Celebrating a Successful Year
It is with a joyful heart that I share my reflections on everything Johego has accomplished over the last twelve months. The 2017 calendar year began with renewed focus: Johego had recently completed our first contract, a $6,052 interdisciplinary research project for Missouri Foundation for Health, and I had just finished a 10-week entrepreneurship training program through Square One at the Center for Emerging Technologies:
Being in the Right Place
Through Missouri Foundation for Health’s “Healthy Communities” program, community organizers and health literacy experts organize coalitions of medical and social service providers around community-led initiatives to improve health outcomes in their region. In January, the Healthy Communities coalition in Hannibal, MO initially decided to focus on increasing awareness of the medical and social services already available in their region, by creating a paper-based directory they could hand out to their colleagues and clients. One of Johego’s allies happened to attend that meeting and told them about the technology Johego had been developing. Intrigued, the coalition invited Johego to give a presentation at their next meeting, ultimately deciding to pay us $4,732.26 to pilot our technology in their community instead of relying on a more traditional, paper-based approach. After several months of design, development, and testing in conjunction with our on-the-ground partners, Johego officially launched our smartphone application on iOS and Android in September, which got picked up by local and regional media:
Earning Institutional Credibility
A few weeks later, based on the success of our pilot program in Hannibal and our robust business plan, Johego was selected as a winner of the prestigious Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition at Washington University in St. Louis, out of an initial field of 154 participants. Meanwhile, we continued to work with our on-the-ground partners to better understand their needs, including at Project Community Connect, my favorite event of the year:
Gaining a Huge Opportunity
Shortly thereafter, I was given the opportunity to present Johego’s vision to senior personnel at Missouri Foundation for Health, an organization that is focused on addressing health issues of underserved Missourians from a systemic perspective. The result of that conversation was a $268,392 contract that will enable Johego to:
- Add 18 additional counties to our coverage area, allowing nearly 1.1 million Missourians to access our services.
- Create a browser-based equivalent of our smartphone application so that anyone can search our directory using their laptop and desktop computers, including police officers in their squad cars.
- Provide information about the hours of operation, financial requirements, and documentation requirements of services listed in our directory, enabling our users to more efficiently obtain the help they need.
Although Johego still has a long way to go in order to actualize our vision of making connecting people in need with medical and social services as easy as finding showtimes for movies, this contract represents a major, if somewhat unbelievable, step forward for us. In the coming weeks and months, I will be introducing you to the newest members of our team, including two additional full-time staff members, and I will be sharing updates about our work as well as opportunities to get involved. In the meantime, I can’t thank you enough for your support.
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