Single Stop USA will create a new technology platform to take its proven service model to its most ambitious scale. Mobilizing all sectors, this first-of-its-kind technology will link low-income individuals to resources that can help them achieve their educational goals and move up the economic ladder. Building on its highly successful benefits screening and case management technology utilized by expert coordinators, Single Stop's new platform draws inspiration from consumer-focused products to connect students to available resources allowing them to 'self-serve.' The platform will automatically pair benefits and financial aid screening with comprehensive referral services. Also, designed through the lens of the individual seeking aid, instead of the organization providing aid, it will make the search for and coordination of resources more user-friendly and intuitive for students. This platform will not be a one-time resource, as automated reminders, behavioral prompts, and incentives will provide guidance and follow-up care as needed.
The new platform will be initially implemented at Single Stop sites. Through intensive outreach efforts by partners and other service providers, this platform will become widely available to people anywhere from the streets to the classrooms and will help create unparalleled efficiencies in the social service and government infrastructures, providing unprecedented access to a college degree for millions of Americans.
Similarly, Single Stop's platform will activate a broad network of colleges and community-based organizations to create efficiency and scalability by removing administrative barriers and triaging clients to service providers that can best meet their needs. Also, just as one may use tax preparation software to complete a straightforward tax return or hire an accountant to solve more complex tax issues, Single Stop's platform will effectively funnel users who need additional/intensive in-person care to experts at existing colleges and community-based organizations who can provide it. The tool will also include features to improve ease of reporting and client tracking for partnering social service providers.
The build is divided into phases, as detailed below, with the following target schedule:
Fall 2014: The pilot version of Single Stop's platform will be created and tested at sites. Functionalities will include the ability to create user profiles, screen for essential benefits, connect to referral partners within Single Stop's closed network, and automate reminders ('nudges') to complete applications. The goal is to secure most of the funding in 2014 to 2015.
Spring 2015: The second version of the platform will be developed, adding key features including an algorithm-generated recommender tool, enhanced benefits screening and referrals, along with tools for client follow-up and tracking. Additional features will give administrators and sites the ability to manage user accounts, select benefits and services, and generate customized performance and demographic reports. The platform will be deployed at additional Single Stop partner sites, and additional funding to complete the core build will be secured.
Fall 2015: The core version of the new platform, including self-screener and administrative tools, will launch in states within Single Stop's footprint. A total of 21 community college campuses in eight states will be the first users of this platform.
Fall 2015 to 2018: Additional states will be built-out as funding becomes available. Annual goals for clients served through the platform are as follows: 610,000 by 2016, 990,000 by 2017, and 1.2 million by 2018.
2018-Beyond - Additional state-specific programs, local resources and specialized services for specific populations (e.g. veterans, seniors, etc.).
Single Stop projects being able to connect 200,000 households to approximately .2 billion of resources and services annually by 2018. This calculation is based on a conservative estimate of connecting 40% of the 200,000 households served at Single Stop sites to resources, plus 10% of the 1.2 million platform users connecting themselves to resources and services, then multiplied by the average drawn down amount of ,000 per household, which yields .2 billion. Current data indicate that Single Stop clients, who are eligible for aid and services, access resources valued in the ,400 and ,500 range.
80,000 (40% of 200,000 households served at Single Stop sites)
+ 120,000 (10% of 1.2 million households served through the platform)
200,000 households connected to resources and services
200,000 total households served x ,000 on average draw down = .2 billion
Forty-three percent of newly available jobs demand, at minimum, a post-secondary degree. However, national data show that only one third of students at community colleges, which provide the training for many of these high skilled jobs, will complete their education, primarily because of financial barriers: the rising cost of college and the decreasing availability of traditional financial aid.
Surprisingly a significant number of low-income students, especially amongst first generation college-goers, do not know about existing government programs, both traditional financial aid and a safety net (tax benefits and other government assistance) worth billion annually, that can help them overcome economic barriers. Also, as aid programs can be difficult to find, application processes confusing to navigate, and services hard to coordinate, these inefficiencies contribute to the unfortunate paradox of millions of high-skill jobs remaining unfilled and nearly 11 million Americans being unemployed. Connecting students to these resources is a problem of logistics, and solving it means moving millions towards a college degree and economic mobility.
Single Stop has a proven track record in creating economic mobility for low-income populations, having since 2007 connected 886,000 households in eight states to .5 billion of existing resources, services, and programs from government agencies and nonprofits.
To trigger financial stability and mobility, Single Stop combines the power of technology to remove barriers in access and information with the ingenuity of community partners to provide comprehensive benefits screening, social service counseling, tax preparation, and financial and legal consultation. Current data show that Single Stop students are able to access additional funds, effectively doubling the maximum value of the need-based Pell Grant. These resources have been shown to increase retention rates by as many as 17% since the implementation of Single Stop services.
Additionally, about 60% of clients whom Single Stop currently serves are women. A post-secondary degree has been shown to boost annual earnings by as much as ,000 for women compared with ,000 for men. This Single Stop initiative helps to empower women economically through providing access to higher education. Single Stop currently has sites in CA, FL, LA, MA, MI, NJ, NY, and PA.
Single Stop is seeking financial resources to support the initial deployment and continued iterative development of our new, client-facing technology platform. These resources will help to underwrite Single Stop's delivery of training, technical assistance, and strategic planning to our community college partners as they integrate our evolved, self-screening model into their existing efforts to serve low-income students. An investment would also support Single Stop's software developers as they continue to build out the technology, both fixing issues identified during testing and adding new resources to the platform. New features may include screening for additional public programs, a client dashboard to manage next steps for benefits applications, a data analytics and reporting platform, and an automated notification and messaging system to assist clients as they interface with the tool.