Each year, MyVest embarks on an ambitious Summer of Giving program. Our program began in 2020 to drive COVID-19 relief and combat racial injustice. This year the theme was focused on volunteerism. Each MyVestor was encouraged to use five days of volunteer time off to support organizations that mean something to them. Our goal is to make a positive impact on our communities and the world at large, and to spark a stronger sense of philanthropy and action-oriented outreach among MyVestors.
One of the most supported organizations by MyVestors is ShelterTech. ShelterTech was formed in 2016 to provide internet access to the nearly 28,000 people experiencing homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area, by making it easier to connect with resources that can help them address their challenges. The core technology platform that powers ShelterTech was built in part through countless volunteer development hours from the talented tech team at MyVest. Since those early days, MyVest continues to be a proud supporter of ShelterTech through volunteer hours and funding. ShelterTech is close to home for MyVestors, as it was co-founded by our own Joe Freund, MyVest senior director of platform engineering. He sits on the board of ShelterTech and is an active rabble rouser for recruiting and motivating volunteers.
“Homelessness is one of the most serious problems facing San Francisco. It’s too big for any one person to solve. It’s very rewarding for us to be able to put the skills we built in our careers toward helping address that problem,” said Joe.
Projects led or contributed to by MyVest members include:
- Development and deployment of the first version of sfserviceguide.org, ShelterTech’s flagship product.
- Buildout of the production infrastructure in Google Cloud.
- Redesign of sheltertech.org, the corporate site.
- Distribution of portable battery chargers to people in need.
- Ongoing feature enhancements to sfserviceguide.org.
- This year, the team built out “breaking news” functionality used to alert users of changes to service providers and provide other timely information that may be of use to them.
MyVest has supplied much of the manpower to get ShelterTech off the ground. As a result of active MyVest volunteerism, it continues to run as a thriving nonprofit that helps the San Francisco homeless population. Here are the ways ShelterTech helps:
Being based out of San Francisco, tech professionals comprise the bulk of their volunteer base and work together to improve the digital infrastructure powering the services designated for underserved residents.
Research & Community Development
No two experiences of people facing housing insecurity are the same. ShelterTech has a dedicated team working alongside individuals who have experienced homelessness learning how best to serve the diverse challenges faced by those facing housing insecurity.
Partnerships & Communications
ShelterTech works with government agencies, nonprofits, and local businesses to strengthen the city’s social services ecosystem. via discourse and knowledge sharing between organizations that align with their mission.
Digital equity can be achieved!
Residents can use free wifi and hardware at shelters and transitional housing facilities. In addition to providing internet connectivity, ShelterTech also provides a San Francisco Service Guide, a platform designed to connect people who are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity to needed services in San Francisco. Anyone with access to a smartphone, tablet, or computer can utilize this online directory of human services provided in San Francisco. These programs are supported by Community Representatives to inform work from their lived experiences and rely on volunteers to continuously update the resources (See: https://sfserviceguide.org/).
In June, ShelterTech hosted the first in-person Datathon events since the pandemic began in 2020! After hosting remotely for two years, they learned that the hybrid style event of in-person and remote volunteers is highly successful. This combination allows those in-person volunteers the experience of camaraderie with colleagues, reintegrates Community Representatives into this program, and maximizes the accessibility of each event by allowing more volunteers to join from different locations.
Here are some of the impacts of ShelterTech programs:
- Over 1,600 people have daily internet access in local shelters and resource centers.
- 5,000 unique monthly visitors, including both caseworkers and those experiencing homelessness.
- 72,000 users a year, 463 organizations represented.
- The Mission Hotel, the biggest single-room occupancy shelter (SRO) in San Francisco now provides free wifi and hardware to hundreds of people.
- 100% volunteer run with 40 volunteers doing everything from programming to searching out current information on resources.
- The SF Service Guide platform is provided for other organizations to use on their own websites. ShelterTech has worked closely with SF Families and Link-SF to provide a custom experience catered to their users’ needs, leveraging their data curation pipeline to keep that information accurate and up to date.
The ThinkAdvisor Luminaries awards recognizes the dynamic and inclusive ways individuals and organizations have shown they are producing meaningful, innovative and replicable results in the areas that matter most to advisors: Community Impact; Executive Leadership; Innovation; and Thought Leadership. Meet all of the esteemed finalists and winners at ThinkAdvisor.com.