For nonprofits looking to scale their efforts and support more people and communities in times of crisis, technology is a tremendous asset to maximize their impact. That is why in August 2019 at Twilio’s SIGNAL conference, Twilio.org announced its Crisis Response and Prevention Initiative. The initiative set out to enhance the communications efforts of nonprofits who are supporting individuals and communities in the following areas:
- Abuse (physical, sexual, technological, financial, verbal, psychological, cultural)
- Substance abuse
- Sexual assault
- Suicide prevention and mental health
- Natural disasters
Additional funding can also help nonprofits expand their use of communications technology to reach as many people as possible. Therefore, as part of the Crisis Response and Prevention Initiative, Twilio.org pledged to donate $5 million by the end of 2019 to United States and internationally-based nonprofits focused on crisis response to help them expand their ability to respond to the needs of the people they support.
The nonprofits will use the grants for projects such as expanding the technical development of their communications infrastructure, hiring additional personnel to support increased client caseload, integrating chatbots and communications channels like SMS, developing new client-facing applications, and implementing GPS location tools to quickly distribute resources to people in crisis. In August, an initial round of approximately $1.3 million in funding was awarded in varying amounts to the following recipients:
- Child Helpline International
- International Rescue Committee
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
- Save the Children
- The Trevor Project
Photo: The Trevor Project
26 Additional Grants to Support Crisis Response
Today, we announced the recipients of the remaining amount of nearly $3.7 million in grants to the following 26 nonprofits who operate in the U.S. and internationally to help mitigate crisis situations.
- 211 Maryland - 2-1-1 Maryland works to connect people with access to health and human services resources through 24/7 support via a hotline, text or chat. Twilio’s grant will help 2-1-1 Maryland support people dealing with opioid addiction via a supportive text platform.
- Africa’s Voices - Africa's Voices deploys novel mixed methods to engage citizens in large-scale discussions while applying tailored technology for scaling that allows local and international organizations to put citizens' voices at the core of their work and enhance their impact. Twilio’s grant will help Africa’s Voices deploy life-saving resources through a two-way SMS platform.
- Atma Connect - Atma Connect aims to empower vulnerable communities on the front lines of disaster with communication and tools to prepare for, respond to, and prevent disasters. Twilio’s grant will help Atma Connect expand early warning SMS disaster alerts to populations in Indonesia.
- Beyond Conflict - Beyond Conflict is revolutionizing the fields of conflict resolution, reconciliation and positive social change through the application of brain and behavioral science.Twilio’s grant will enhance the use of Beyond Conflict’s SMS and Whatsapp-based platform to increase the mental wellbeing of Syrian refugees.
- CARE - CARE works globally to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice, through programs in humanitarian crisis response, women’s empowerment, food and nutrition security, and sexual and reproductive health. Twilio’s grant will help CARE expand the operations of its emergency helpline to aid additional countries in Africa by sharing life-saving disaster resources.
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia - Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the nation's first hospital devoted exclusively to the care of children, seeks to foster discoveries that improve pediatric healthcare and save children’s lives. Twilio’s grant will help Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia develop a chatbot to screen children for suicide risk in a more efficient and scalable manner.
- Crisis Response Network - Crisis Response Network is dedicated to helping individuals in crisis by providing services, including crisis call center support, mobile emergency dispatch, and rapid response stabilization. With Twilio’s grant, Crisis Response Network will be able to expand the dispatch capability for crisis responders serving people in crisis.
- ETR - ETR (Education, Training and Research) advances health equity by designing science-based solutions to support youth, families and communities. Twilio’s grant will enhance ETR’s efforts to provide 24/7 crisis support to Honduran youth who are at risk for facing gender based violence.
- ISeeChange - ISeeChange’s platform and community pilots empower residents to track and understand local weather and climate to adapt to change. Twilio’s grant will strengthen ISeeChange’s ability to provide natural disaster information to underserved communities via their SMS/MMS based platform.
- Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing - myPlan, launched by Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, expands access to safety planning for people experiencing abuse from an intimate partner by providing a web and mobile resource to privately assess the health and safety of a relationship, get personalized information to make decisions about safety, and connect to resources.Twilio’s grant will expand Johns Hopkins School of Nursing’s use of their platform to reach additional teens dealing with intimate partner violence.
- National Center for Victims of Crime - The National Center for Victims of Crime works to help victims of crime rebuild their lives by building trusted resources for victims and advocating on their behalf. Twilio’s grant will help the National Center for Victims of Crime to expand the use of its contact center to reach victims of crime.
- notOK - notOK App's mission is to make it easier for people to reach out when they’re not okay by taking the guesswork out of asking for help. Twilio’s grant will help notOK expand its digital panic app that is used to alert trusted confidants of a victim when that person is in crisis.
- Objective Zero - Objective Zero uses mobile app technology to connect the military community with peer support, wellness, and mental health resources to combat suicide. Twilio’s grant will help Objective Zero provide mental health support to veterans via their integrated communications platform.
- Polaris - Polaris, a leader in the fight to eradicate sex and labor trafficking, responds to immediate needs of victims and survivors and leverages the insight and data from more than 10 years of response to formulate and implement innovation strategies aimed at dismantling the systems that make the crime profitable and possible. Twilio’s grant will help Polaris’ SMS program used to support survivors of human trafficking.
- rAInbow - rAInbow, built by AI for Good, is a smart companion for people at risk of domestic abuse. rAInbow will use the grant from Twilio to provide resources to victims of gender based violence via a targeted app in South Africa and the UK.
- REFUNITE (Refugees United) - Refugees United, the world’s largest missing persons platform for refugees and displaced populations, uses mobile solutions to help refugee families escaping from conflict reconnect with missing loved ones. Twilio’s grant will expand REFUNITE’s ability to add more individual contributors to share crisis alerts via their SMS tool to warn impacted communities.
- Rescue America - Rescue America empowers survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation to exit the life via a 24/7 hotline and emergency assessment program. Twilio’s grant will help Rescue America support sex trafficking victims through hotline support.
- St. James Infirmary - St. James Infirmary is a peer-based occupational health and safety clinic for sex workers of all genders. Twilio’s grant will help St. James Infirmary launch its first hotline for sex workers dealing with trauma.
- The Steve Fund - The Steve Fund supports the mental and emotional health of students of color through multicultural on-campus and virtual mental health service provision. Twilio’s grant will help the Steve Fund provide emotional support to young people of color via their on-demand support platform.
- THORN - Thorn builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse. Twilio’s grant will help Thorn reach and coordinate with additional law enforcement officers to identify child sexual abuse victims via online data sharing and communications tools.
- Translators Without Borders - Translators without Borders innovates to get the world’s most vulnerable people information that they need and want in a language and format they understand. Twilio's grant will be used to help Translators Without Borders expand their glossaries to improve communications with communities, specifically Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
- Trans Lifeline - Trans Lifeline is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive. Twilio’s grant will help Trans Lifeline launch a Spanish language hotline to support trans people in the Latinx community.
- Trek Medics - Trek Medics is dedicated to reducing preventable death and disability by improving access to emergency care for at-risk and vulnerable populations through innovative mobile phone technologies. Twilio’s grant will help Trek Medics save lives by distributing doses of Naloxone to help reverse overdoses.
- Turn2Me - Turn2Me uses technological solutions to provide people with professional mental health support, promote mental wellbeing and prevent suicide. Specifically, Twilio’s grant will support Turn2Me’s efforts to help teens dealing with suicide and self-harm via its mental health support platform.
- Vibrant Emotional Health - Vibrant Emotional Health aims to build a society in which emotional wellness can be a reality for everyone by providing people with emotional support and care when, where, and how they need it. Twilio’s grant will enhance Vibrant Emotional Health’s ability to provide mental health resources via their SMS program to New Yorkers who are at risk of suicide and other crises.
- WeRobotics - WeRobotics enables local experts in 25+ countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America to take leadership roles in the responsible and ethical use of drones, data and AI to solve the most pressing social challenges. Twilio’s grant will help WeRobotics improve its disaster resource deployment by helping to integrate their SMS messaging into drone response systems that deliver post-disaster aid to additional countries.
Photo: Atma Connect
In addition to providing grants, Twilio.org also established the Crisis Response Technology Network (CRTN) to help nonprofits using communications technology to respond to crisis situations. The CRTN brings together organizations that have the greatest capacity for delivering crisis response communications at scale via technology. Members—including engineers and program specialists—help identify barriers and opportunities for nonprofits to utilize technology to improve response times and simultaneously serve more people in crisis. The CRTN also works to make sure that nonprofits are receiving enhancements to and maximizing the functionality of the technology they are currently using.
Twilio.org’s grants program to support the communications efforts of nonprofits supporting individuals in crisis will continue in 2020. Organizations are encouraged to visit Twilio.org/contact to sign up for updates as information becomes available about the next round.
Overall, the Crisis Response and Prevention Initiative—with elements including the CRTN and grants program—reflects Twilio.org’s vision that one day, everyone who is at risk will get the help they need, right when they need it. Our participation in the Pledge 1% initiative and devoting one percent of Twilio’s equity to social impact programs is one of the ways we fund our mission to fuel the communications that provide hope, power, and freedom. If you are a nonprofit or social enterprise interested in expanding your communications infrastructure to reach more people who are in need of help, please visit Twilio.org to find out how we can support your efforts.