The non-profit organization Carver County tries to connect the community with resources with the project Lin-kij | Chanhassen
Connecting to resources in Carver County is in its early stages and is becoming more streamlined than ever as Chanhassen-based non-profit organization A Better Society launches its resource support platform, Project Lin-kij.
Khai and Heather Tran, married couple and co-founders of A Better Society, have partnered with for-profit Unite Us to build a referral network of local organizations and the resources necessary to meet the needs of Carver County residents.
The organization was first founded in 2008 with “one goal in mind — to get involved and build a community,” said Khai Tran in a 2022 press release. With that goal in mind, the concept for Project Linkij was born.
The project brings together those who visit an organization in search of food, shelter, household items or transportation support to express their other needs and be referred to other organizations in a private and consent-based manner. Through this recommendation, organizations that can help in the Linkij project network are then informed of this need and can contact them.
“What we lacked was the ability to efficiently and equitably share the resources in the community and direct them to those in need,” Tran said.
If a person is dealing with food insecurity, chances are they also need career or housing assistance, Tran explained.
Unite Us, a for-profit software company, provides the platform for which A Better Society connects the community with resources.
This platform also allows individuals to self-report their needs through the online form.
“Our partnership with A Better Society aligns with our goal of connecting residents of Carver County and across the state to the critical resources and services they need, no matter the circumstance,” said Allison Alstrin, Unite Us Community Engagement Manager , in a 2022 press release. “Her work and commitment to nonprofit, government, and healthcare organizations in Carver County make her a natural partner for Unite Minnesota.”
Through these meetings they identified three major obstacles to the Linkij project at the time – the monetary cost of a platform that smaller organizations could use, access to quality technology and the difficulty of access, and A Better Society was not a well-known organization in 2008.
Now that A Better Society is more established, technology has advanced and Khai Tran has retired from his corporate life, the project has been restarted in 2021. In conducting a new round of interviews with organizations, they found that the referral process used by organizations was the same as it was in 2008—by word of mouth.
“We’ve been at this for 14 years and we truly believe that with the right focus, with the right organizations and the right people involved, we can make this a success in Carver County,” said Tran.
The project has two main goals, the first is to increase community connectedness “in a way that provides a system, a standard collaborative network, to share the resources that a community already has, but in more efficient ways and more just way to do it”. Tran said.
The second goal is to encourage civic and community engagement, which includes “creating some awareness for everyone in the community to volunteer, donate their resources, be it time, money, or experience, but then also as a community coming together to advocate for the right changes,” Tran said. “We’re not talking about political things, we’re talking about how we’re building a community that’s closer and better.”
The project works by connecting “six units” — nonprofits, schools, the faith community, businesses, government agencies and healthcare — with those who need help through the Unite Us platform through referrals.
Some of the facilities currently part of the Lin-kij project are His House Foundation, Southern Valley Alliance, Carver County Library, Chaska Police Department, Love Inc., Shepherd of the Hill Church, The Humanity Alliance, Southwest Transit and Eastern Carver district schools.
“Ideally, if we combined all of these entity types within a community around a tool, a platform, that they could use to share resources in a standardized way, that would make delivering resources to the right person as efficient as possible,” he said blubber
Organizations identified as suitable for the request’s needs will be notified after referral. After an entity responds to the request, the others are notified.
“When the case is closed, the system automatically sends an update notification to the entity that made the original request,” Tran said.
If a request cannot be satisfied by any entity, the request goes back to the originator to extend the search. Although this may be a database specific to Carver County residents, the goal is to include entities outside of the county that also provide unique resources.
“Maybe it’s not just Carver County, maybe they’re expanding the search to Scott County, maybe Hennepin,” Tran said. “What we need to understand as a community is that we have needs – they continue to evolve and change over time – but there will always be a need. Then we have resources that change over time, sometimes they match perfectly and sometimes they don’t.”
While the project is still in its early stages, Tran says A Better Society “has the tools ready, we have some of the right players, but it’s going to take a while – but we’re in it for the long haul.” ”
In addition to providing resources, Tran is confident that the data collected on community needs and the extent to which specific organizations are able to meet those needs will be helpful in moving “forward” with more preventative measures – without stopping what he is doing called “the downstream efforts”. ”
A Better Society hopes to take Project Linkij and collaborations with others in Carver County to a period of “collective impact” where needs in the community are addressed and met, a concept supported by the National Council of Nonprofits defined as “a conscious way of collaborating” and sharing information to solve a complex problem.”
“All of these organizations need our efforts, our volunteers, our funds because they need to be able to provide their services and their resources to people in need,” Tran said. “Let’s find the right time, right amount of resources and energy, and focus on going upstream to find out why there are people in certain areas who need certain services. Because if we can, we won’t be in a situation where we’re always just reactive.”