ShelterTech is solving the biggest technology challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness. Founded in 2016 in San Francisco, ShelterTech improves access to the internet, operates an online directory of homeless services and provides digital training and opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. Their programs target three core problems faced by those experiencing homelessness: poor access to the internet, difficulty finding reliable information for homeless services, and the digital divide separating the tech community and underserved communities.
ShelterTech is 100% operated by approximately one hundred volunteers including their Executive Director, Molly Cohen and Founders, Darcel Jackson, Hicham Sair and Derek Fidler. ShelterTech has installed Wi-Fi access in 50% of San Francisco’s main shelters which has impacted 1,000 people experiencing homelessness. ShelterTech wants to expand their wifi service to all shelters and transitional housing in San Francisco and are looking to serve areas beyond San Francisco.
Shelter Tech has 3 main programs: ShelterConnect, AskDarcel and Casey. Shelter Connect works with internet service providers to offer free Wi-Fi in shelters and transitional housing facilities. AskDarcel, a website, allows case managers, city employees, and people experiencing homelessness to find thousands of housing, health, job, education, and other human services nearby and learn how to access them. Utilizing data from AskDarcel and hundreds of research hours and user interviews, Casey provides step-by-step guidance for many of the most common problems faced by people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Casey guides are delivered where they’re needed most; paper guides are available in youth shelters and resource centers, and additional guides are in the works.
Molly is very proud of the impact ShelterTech has had on the homeless community. Delivering world-class technology products has assisted people across San Francisco. The wifi ShelterConnect allows people to apply online for housing and benefits, schedule appointments with doctors and case managers, search for jobs, search for other social services, and stay in touch with family and friends. It’s a lifeline for getting back on their feet.
Molly’s biggest challenge, as with most nonprofits, is to build and maintain institutional knowledge in ways that allow volunteers to do work that is impactful and not administrative. This is why she relies on RINA. “Having RINA as our accountant is invaluable. It’s wonderful to have RINA in our corner and have our backs so we have one less thing to worry about. Charles, Katie & Chris helped us get organized and worked to get our books and accounting in order.”
ShelterTech wants to maintain their model of having all volunteers do the incredible work that is so needed here in our own backyard. They are always in need of volunteers, donors and in-kind donations. They ask that you attend events because the more people get involved, the bigger impact they will have. You can learn more about ShelterTech at www.sheltertech.org or by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.