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We Need This: One Degree, A Non-Profit Search Engine for Social Services

onedegreelogoThe internet is an amazing place where you can get access to loads of information and resources. But there’s no doubt that the bulk of the web is geared toward the more privileged of us.

This is why I was so happy to read about One Degree, a new start-up in San Francisco that has created a site — more of a search engine, really — that is designed to help the less privileged get the help they need.

On their About page, One Degree directly addresses the problem they are trying to fix:

“Low-income families aren’t getting services they need because the social safety net is fragmented and confusing to navigate. Opportunities for help remain unknown and unused. In addition to the difficulty of finding the right resources, nonprofit clients have little or no ability to provide feedback to help improve the organizations which serve them.”

Founder Rey Faustino discussed his reasons for creating the startup in TechCrunch:

“As a child, Faustino remembers that individual social workers had all of this information in their heads about the best programs to route families and low-income workers to. But there wasn’t a scalable, single destination where anybody could go to find whatever they needed, whether it was low-cost medical care or free after-school programs.”

I love this idea. My mother was a single mom and we were dirt poor when I was a kid, and I remember the worst part for my mom was asking for help. She was deeply ashamed about our poverty, and often ended up paying more because she didn’t know where to turn for assistance, such as the time the hospital billed her twice for my broken arm. She had no resources to turn to get help negotiating with the hospital; instead, she paid the bill — painfully — twice.

I know it’s only available in San Francisco and the Bay Area right now, but here’s hoping they expand soon because there is no doubt this service is desperately needed. What a great idea.

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