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Strengthening Collaboration and Innovation

Sept. 9, 2015, 12:41 p.m. · 0 comments

Simon Solutions Inc. is expanding our commitment to collaboration and innovation and would like to introduce you to our newest staff member, Krista Petty. Krista is serving in a newly developed role of Community Connector and Editor. She will be connecting with many of our networks and writing case studies and profiles. You might be hearing from her soon as she researches the great work Charity Tracker and Oasis Insight networks are doing in their communities.

Through these studies and profiles, we hope to glean principles and best practices that our various networks and community collaborations have in common. We also want to learn of the unique ways some of you are solving problems and collectively having impact. Our goal is to share what we learn as to strengthen the capacity of us all. We believe what we learn will also aid in the development and implementation of forming new collaborations for community benefit and transformation.

Krista is no stranger to our team. We have been collaborating with her on various special projects for several years. If your collaborative network is doing something groundbreaking, feel free to reach out and share your story. Contact Krista directly at krista@simonsolutions.com

"Collaboration is the backbone for innovation success."

-Sarah Miller Caldicott, great grandneice of Thomas Edison

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Celebrating 9 years!!!

May 29, 2015, 1:32 p.m. · 0 comments

The month of May marks the 9th year of business for Simon Solutions, Inc.

It’s hard to believe that our solutions, CharityTracker and Oasis Insight, are now helping people in 871 cities.

Our staff continues to grow as does our passion for the work that we do.

We would like to thank the many agencies and administrators who have guided our company in building better solutions.

We have big things in store for the future and we trust that you will be with us for the next 9 years. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!!!!!!

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Congratulations to Jeffrey Allen!

May 18, 2015, 11:13 a.m. · 0 comments

Simon Solutions is proud to congratulate our intern, Jeffrey Allen, on his recent graduation from the University of North Alabama where he majored in computer science and minored in mathematics.

Originally from Orlando, FL, Jeffrey is pictured above with his wonderful mother, Hannah.

Jeffrey has been a part-time member of the our team for a year and a half and will now be joining us full-time.

He says that he appreciates the opportunity to work with people who care to make a difference in communities, and we certainly appreciate Jeffrey and his hard work.

Jeffrey is a bright young man with an even brighter future. We are lucky to have him!

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The Sanford Herald, Jan. 11th 2015

Jan. 11, 2015, noon · 0 comments

‘Serve more and serve better’

Charity Tracker to be rolled out at month’s end

Jan. 11, 2015 @ 05:01 AM

Sanford, North Carolina

Kathryn Trogdon

United Way of Lee County will roll out a new database later this month as a way to connect local nonprofits and churches to better assist those in need by keeping more detailed records on clients and eliminating redundancies.

United Way of Lee County will hold an information session about Charity Tracker, a database that connects local charities to maximize their efficiency, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Jan. 27 at Trinity Lutheran Church at 525 Carthage St. in Sanford. United Way Executive Director Jan Hayes said any Lee County nonprofit or church interested in the program is invited to attend, but she encouraged an RSVP to United Way at (919) 776-5823 beforehand.

“What we anticipate on this is that it will be just an incredible resource for our organization, because we know there is redundancies in services,” Hayes said. “The bottom line is serving as many people that we can in the community.”

As administrators of the site, United Way has been piloting Charity Tracker with two of its partner agencies, the Salvation Army of Lee County and Christians United Outreach Center, primarily testing the program during the holidays. Salvation Army, CUOC, N.C. Treasure Chest and Toys for Tots for Lee County tested the new system by making sure every family received toys for Christmas from only one of the organizations.

“It helps us to be better stewards of the donations that we get,” Christians United Outreach Center Executive Director Teresa Kelly said. “And making sure the families that we are helping are the ones that are most in need of the services.”

After the rollout of the program, Charity Tracker Basic would be available to local nonprofits and churches for $15 a month and Charity Tracker Plus would be available for $25 a month. New and interested persons or organizations would also be eligible for a 14 day free trial.

Charity Tracker Basic would provide organizations with basic information, including client data, bulletins and a directory of all the agencies in the network, while Charity Tracker Plus, includes requests, referrals and outcomes.

Kelly said Charity Tracker Plus would be useful to CUOC if someone came in for assistance but also needed help with a light bill. She said if the organization couldn’t help with the full amount, she could send a request to the Salvation Army to assist.

“It’s a way for nonprofits to communicate back and forth about the clients,” she said.

Charity Tracker Plus could also track the outcomes of clients, Kelly said. For example, if CUOC shared information about Job Seekers with a client that was unemployed, staff at the next agency that client visits will see that information and can ask the client if they followed up.

“It kind of just allows all the nonprofits to know what we’re communicating with the families,” she said.

Hayes said the database could also assist clients in other areas of their lives. For example, she said organizations would be able to suggest other services in the community that are available to the client like taking a financial management class or getting their GED, which could lead to getting a job.

“We’re hoping that because we share in these resources we’ll be able to identify other areas where [the clients] need help and provide that assistance as well,” she said. “This is a big picture.”

While she understood cost may be a factor for some organizations, Hayes said she would encourage every group involved to get Charity Tracker Plus.

“It would really be better if everyone involved got the plus so we could all share [information],” she said.

But organizations that get the basic version of Charity Tracker won’t be disconnected from the other agencies, Kelly said, because organizations with Charity Tracker Basic can see messages via the bulletin board.

“This enables member organizations to track their clients, the assistance they receive, where and when they receive it and what they receive,” Anri Flickinger, United Way project coordinator, said. “In turn, this creates transparency between agencies that enables them to serve more and serve better.”

Here's a link to the original article.

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From our family to yours....

Dec. 23, 2014, 1:52 p.m. · 0 comments

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Myrtle Beach Sun News, October 28, 2014

Oct. 28, 2014, noon · 0 comments

Conway Group Fights to Feed Those in Need


Strand Notebook, October 28, 2014

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

On Monday, 100 people in need went to the Churches Assisting People (CAP) offices in Conway for food. About midday Tuesday, Director Gail LaSalle said it appeared the number was going to be about the same for that day.

The economy may be better for some people, but for many others, it has not improved, she said.

CAP is struggling to keep enough food on the shelves to give to the hungry that come to them. “We desperately need food,” LaSalle said. “It comes in, and it goes right out.”

Who are the people going to CAP for help?

They are not people who go from charity to charity, trying to take advantage. Many charities, including CAP, use Charity Tracker on their computers, and they know if a person has been to another charity and what the person has gotten from another charity or from theirs.

LaSalle said they are people of all ages, including many seniors living on fixed incomes who are a little above the amount that would allow them to get food stamps or maybe have incomes low enough to get only about $15 worth. And the price of food is going up.

“That’s what’s happening. Food is expensive, especially meat,” LaSalle said.

Many seniors who worked most of their lives only get about $600 or $700 per month in Social Security to live on. “It’s a struggle,” LaSalle said.

CAP provides emergency food assistance of three meals per person, per day for three days. In October 2013, CAP provided food to 1,148 families. As of noon on Oct. 28, CAP already had assisted 1,000 households this month. That’s an estimated 2,800 people and about 24,000 to 25,000 meals.

This year, from January through August, a total of 7, 478 families received 165,645 meals.

CAP also helps in other ways, if possible, and in that same time period, it distributed $24,401 to 8,000 families to assist with electric bills, transportation, housing and other basic needs.

On Tuesday, LaSalle was trying to network to help a woman who has been given responsibility for three of someone else’s children and is having to rent beds for them because she can’t afford to buy beds.

“People need stuff, and it’s very hard,” LaSalle said. “She only gets $180 a month to feed all three of them. She can’t afford to go out and buy beds.”

In an effort to assist those in need more efficiently, CAP was started by the Conway Ministerial Association in late 1987 with seven participating churches and has grown to about 33 participating churches and organizations. It has a staff of three.

Without hard-working volunteers, it would be impossible to operate, LaSalle said.

In addition to the daily need of food and donations, CAP, a United Way agency, is working to provide Thanksgiving dinner to families in need.

CAP is at 206 Main St. in Conway. For more information about donating, hosting a food drive, volunteering or helping in other ways, call 488-2277 or visit www.capconway.org.

Here's a link to the original article.

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Springfield News-Leader Oct. 26, 2014

Oct. 26, 2014, 6 a.m. · 0 comments

Rollins: Tracking aid to the poor could change cynical minds

by Jess Rollins, 6 a.m. CDT October 26, 2014

Springfield, Missouri

Are poor people in Springfield just lazy?

Could they get a decent paying job but choose not to?

Are they taking advantage of welfare programs and charities — cashing in on the generosity and taxation of hard-working folks?

On these questions, a lot of people have already made up their minds.

But what if, on a case-by-case basis, there was a way to know what services each poor person in the city received?

What if the ones who needed help could get it?

What if so-called freeloaders wouldn't be able to game the system?

No need for the "what ifs." Such a tracking program exists and is being used, in a limited way, among some local charities. It's called Charity Tracker. For the few food pantries in the city that use it, the system creates a profile of each person or family that receives local services.

The profile can include a full account of services received by an individual, including participation in federal programs like food stamps.

The profile is shared in real time with other agencies on the network.

Mary Zumwalt, of Ozarks Food Harvest, the food bank that administrates the program, said it has been in use about a year. But only 19 charities spread throughout 28 counties have signed on. Only six of those are in Greene County.

The $15 monthly fee and equipment needed — a computer with Internet — have been obstacles for the charities that might like to participate.

Zumwalt said the program helps the charities coordinate and keep from duplicating services.

"What we are really wanting the program to do is make each other aware of the services they provide and to help the clients," Zumwalt said.

"It is a really great tool for everyone to work together and not drain each others' resources."

Zumwalt told me the system isn't really meant to catch fraud — mostly because the occurrence of it is actually very low — but it can.

And this, in a cold and calculating way, is valuable.

The ability to tell a cynical community that only the needy — and no one else — is getting help, could help change the conversation when talking about the plight of the poor.

The Springfield poverty commission, a group of business, government and community leaders working on a plan to help lift the city's poor out of poverty, could gain some much-needed community support if the commission members push for this system to be more widely used.

There is another benefit to the program that could aid the commission's work. The system would allow observers to track a poverty-stricken family's progress.

A caseworker could help chart a course for poor individuals and monitor their progress toward getting on their feet.

Each success story could provide a blueprint, an inspiration to others and a scorecard for the efficacy of the city's programs.

I agree, fighting fraud that doesn't really exist is a silly goal.

But if doing so reassures a community that is sometimes hostile toward the poor, the investment would be worth it.

Here's a link to the original article.

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Stillwater CARES Launches CharityTracker

Sept. 25, 2014, 9:42 a.m. · 0 comments

On September 3rd and 4th of 2014, representatives from Simon Solutions conducted CharityTracker training sessions for the Stillwater CARES assistance network in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Executive Director Quinn Schipper was nice enough to talk to us about the reasons why Stillwater CARES chose CharityTracker.

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Press Release, August 26th, 2014

Aug. 26, 2014, 7:41 a.m. · 0 comments


Shoals Software Company to Train New Users in Oklahoma

CharityTracker implemented by Stillwater CARES, Inc.

Florence, AL. August 26th, 2014

Members of the Simon Solutions Team will be present in Stillwater, Oklahoma next week to provide onsite training at the launch of a new CharityTracker network sponsored by the collaborative, Stillwater CARES, Inc. (Community And Resource Empowerment Solutions).

“We have been honored to work with Stillwater Cares Executive Director, Quinn Schipper, to get this going. Quinn has a love for his community and a passion and commitment to help others.” says Joey Yarber, Implementation Specialist, at Simon Solutions, Inc.

Stillwater CARES is presently associated with 30 local churches, 26 agencies and organizations, and many motivated members to provide support and offer practical assistance to caregivers within the Stillwater community.

According to the Stillwater CARES website, 31 local organizations already identify as “early adopters” of the CharityTracker software and the organization says “a coherent system of coordination will help circumvent unnecessary duplication, insufficient services, and needless waste.”

Kyle Minckler of Simon Solutions said, "The collaborative led by Stillwater CARES is doing some amazing work to improve the quality of life of individuals impacted by poverty, and I am so excited to share CharityTracker as part of the solution."

CharityTracker representatives will be on hand to train users, demonstrate new features, and answer any questions new users may have about the shared case management software.

In the coming months, Simon Solutions will introduce CharityTracker updates which will allow users the option to track components of the popular Bridges Out of Poverty community support program and track outcomes and assessments from their Getting Ahead curriculum.

“Stillwater is a ‘Bridges Community’ and several agencies use the Getting Ahead Process in working to help people out of poverty. These new updates will prove to be a great tool for this collaborative and its members.” said Yarber.

CharityTracker was developed in Florence, Alabama by Simon Solutions, Inc. in 2007 in conjunction with the United Way of Northwest Alabama and other charitable agencies and is now being used in 756 communities across the country.

Source: Simon Solutions, Inc.

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Hydrate the Homeless 2014

Aug. 19, 2014, 4:51 p.m. · 4 comments

Pictured: Hydrate the Homeless event in Wilson Park and members of the Simon Solutions Team with this year's donation.

Simon Solutions and CharityTracker would like to salute the Homeless Care Council of Northwest Alabama for organizing the Hydrate the Homeless event in Wilson Park in Florence, AL on Tuesday, August 19th!

Local assistance agencies and volunteers handed out information for resources, free bottled water, fans, sunscreen and other cooling items.

Pictured: Nancy (Safeplace), Beth Haddock (United Way of Northwest Alabama), YaShika Ray (Community Action Agency of Northwest Alabama).

Participating agencies included the Shoals chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Partnership for a Tobacco-Free Shoals, Community Action Agency of Northwest Alabama, Safeplace, United Way of Northwest Alabama, North Alabama Housing Assistance, AIDS Action Coalition Housing Department, and the City of Florence.

Pictured: Myra Childs (211 Director, United Way of Northwest Alabama), Danielle McCullar (UNA Social Work Intern), Skyler Mansell (United Way of Northwest Alabama Intern).

Thanks to Marie Waxel, from WAFF 48 News, for covering the event. Please check out the links below.

Providing Heat Relief to the Homeless

Volunteers Supply Homeless with Ways to Beat the Heat

Also, a special thanks to Melanie Dickens, Lyndsey Borden, and Beth Haddock for all of their help!

Great Job Everyone!

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