Organization: United Way of Freeborn County
Location: Albert Lea, Minnesota
Contact: Ann Austin, Director
We serve Freeborn County, which is in southern Minnesota on the border of Iowa with a population of about 31,000 people. Our organization supports a variety of programs, from healthy family home visits for parents of newborns to services for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. In total, we fund 16 organizations and 24 different programs. One of the things we’ve been looking at for years is that as a small community, we don’t have a lot of options to gather data. It’s just me now on staff, with some part-time staff doing emergency response since fall. We’re short on resources and we don’t have deep pockets. We were limited with what we could invest in, but effective data collection was something our board wanted to focus on. With our social services, there is always a perception of duplication, so we want to create a means for those organizations to effectively communicate. We tend to serve a lot of the same clients because their needs overlap, but we don’t have a good way to coordinate those services.
What attracted you to MPOWR?
We were getting courted by a few programs, but MPOWR referred us to other groups that were using its software. We could call and check in on its usefulness, what those groups were measuring, how it was functioning in those communities. That’s what got our board members on board. We’re hoping the system can help us create instant connections, identify the right resources quickly and help people faster. That will help us move from survival/emergency mode to the planning and goal-setting that MPOWR is focused on.
When did you implement MPOWR? Summer 2017
How are you using MPOWR to support your organization?
We chose to first focus on three areas: housing, transportation and employment. Those are the three that we want to measure across the board. We want to connect with the groups providing these services, fit in the mental health piece, the financial literacy piece, etc. There are 16 total aspects to this system that really do address all the different support networks in place to help people be successful. The thing I really love about MPOWR is that it’s very asset-focused, rather than just looking at the deficits that individuals need to address.