Nicholas House: Keeping Homeless Families Together [#BetterTogether]

TechBridge Blog   Angie Wynne   January 26, 2017   


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About TechBridge’s #BetterTogether Campaign

TechBridge is proud to have assisted so many organizations on the front lines of social change in our communities— alleviating homelessness, fighting poverty, helping kids do better in school, making sure seniors get proper meals, and so much more. We provide technology solutions that build the capacity of nonprofits to achieve better results and to form community-based collaboratives that drive measurable and sustainable change.

 We created the #BetterTogether campaign so that we can showcase some of the important efforts of the nonprofits we’ve worked with. We feel that these stories exemplify the transformational work that can happen when organizations and individuals work hard— together— towards a common goal. We hope that hearing these stories is as inspirational to you as it is to us. 

Nicholas House: Keeping Homeless Families Together

TechBridge recently checked in on one of the homeless shelters we've worked with in the past couple of years to see how things were coming along. When we walked into Nicholas House in Grant Park on a gray December afternoon we were struck by how cozy it was. The shelter, located in a century-old foursquare, is warm and inviting. Staff members were piling donated holiday gifts around the tree. A tween was heating his lunch in the kitchen. Bright walls and fun paintings show that the staff at Nicholas House are people who want to make families feel welcome. IMG_4375-1.jpg

Nicholas House operates the shelter itself plus several transitional family apartments in the area. It's one of the rare Atlanta homeless shelters that provides housing for families regardless of makeup. Homeless families make up about 30% of the homeless population in the U.S, and more than 1,200 families in Atlanta are homeless on any given night. Most homeless families who seek shelter are often split up according to age and/or gender. Not here.

Another thing that makes the thirty-four year old shelter unique is how outcome-oriented it is. Nicholas House knows that providing a safe place to sleep and food to eat isn't enough to ensure that a family doesn't become homeless again, so they also work to address the root causes of homelessness for the families they serve. 

IMG_4363.jpgResidents are offered counseling, skills training, medical care, and other targeted support services via partner organizations while they're at the facility. Kids have access to tutoring, after school programs and mentors.

And the support continues even after they leave. Case managers check in with families for two years after they exit the program. Success at Nicholas House is measured not by the number of beds filled, but by whether a family is able to maintain its self-sufficiency.

Nicholas House is always working to make its programs even better, so tracking data and being able to quantify results is incredibly important. As they grew, they reached a point where their current technology solutions just weren't cutting it.

A few years ago, Nicholas House was using spreadsheets and accounting software to manage volunteer, donor, financial, and client data, but these solutions just weren't robust enough. They wanted to be able to run reports that would allow them to interpret their data in a meaningful way, so they reached out to TechBridge.

Thanks to generous support from NCR, TechBridge helped Nicholas House implement SalesForce to enable them to manage their data. This allows them to meaningfully track and measure data, come up with strategic campaigns, and take advantage of time-sensitive donor opportunities. Says volunteer and marketing coordinator Norma V. Nyhoff, "SalesForce has been an incredible gift." 

Now that Nicholas House is able to track their outcomes more effectively, they've found that eighty percent of the families that graduate from their services are able to maintain their own housing for a year or more after exiting the program.

 We are grateful for the vital work that the folks at Nicholas House are doing to alleviate homelessness in Atlanta, and we feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to help them implement technology to help them serve more families in need.

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