Nonprofit Upgrades Technology to Help Veterans

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2017-03-28 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tech helps veterans

RP/6, a nonprofit organization that helps service members and veterans, embarked on a major technology upgrade, including a dashboard and a dedicated app.

Military veterans face many challenges when they return to civilian life. These include finding meaningful work, weighing education options, locating housing, and seeking out health and wellness programs. One organization that's focused on aiding service members, National Guard and reservists, and veterans as they navigate this complex maze is RP/6, a Lakewood, Wash., nonprofit that serves more than 12,000 people.

The organization, which goes by the military moniker Rally Point 6 (a physical point where people assemble to meet objectives, and 6 stands for "I've got your back"), aims to serve as a one-stop shop for military families. RP/6 officially opened its doors in September 2014 and joined forced with the USO the following January.

"Veterans desperately needed a holistic framework to streamline processes and make a more seamless transition to civilian life," says Anne Sprute, founder and CEO for the organization.

RP/6 offers personalized counseling to help service members and veterans and their families identify goals and tasks, which may involve numerous steps and encompass major events like moving from one city to another. The counselor, known as a scout, assesses an individual's situation from a menu of options. All of this becomes a checklist and an individualized action plan.

However, "In the past, information was siloed," Sprute recalls. "It was difficult to access and use because it mostly resided in spreadsheets." In addition, individuals relied on printouts. If a person misplaced or lost the checklist, it was gone permanently.

Embarking on a Major Technology Upgrade

In late 2015, RP/6 embarked on a major technology upgrade, including the addition of a dedicated app. The organization turned to Salesforce.org, the arm of Salesforce that works with nonprofits, to facilitate the process.

"We wanted to advance the spreadsheet to the 21st century," says Kylee Durant, chief operating officer and the IT decision-maker for the organization. "We didn't require any new ideas. We just wanted technology to support the framework we had already created."

The organization introduced the app, which was built on the Heroku cloud platform, in April 2016 and updated it in October.

Service members and veterans view their checklist and their progress through a built-in dashboard that works on computers as well as on mobile devices. (The organization does not use a dedicated mobile app.) As participants accomplish various tasks and check them off, they're able to view the results graphically.

The Salesforce application, which COO Durant refers to as "the central nervous system," ensures that all the information and user data is current, and that different people within RP/6 have access to it and can act on it.

The organization currently has 10 locations around the United States, and it plans to add another 10 this year. It also provides service members with their scout's name, phone number and email address. They can chat within the app at any time.

"Our goal is to help veterans and their families take charge of their transition and make sure they are in control of their plan," Sprute explains. "The military culture is very checklist-oriented, so this is a good fit. …We are helping make an overwhelming process simpler and far more seamless."



 
 
 
 
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
 
 
 
 
 



















 
 
 
 
 
 

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