- Organization Name:211info
- Address:PO Box 11830
Portland, OR 97211
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211info connects the people of Oregon and Southwest Washington with the community resources they need.
2-1-1 is the number anybody can dial for a free, live and confidential referral to a health or social service provider. The service connects people in need with local and statewide agencies that can help them. It’s now available statewide 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. During those hours, people can also receive a referral via text message. To start a text message, they send their ZIP code to “898211.” Information on community resources is also available at the website, 211info.org, and via a weekly e-newsletter. Nonprofit 211info operates the service for all of Oregon and Southwest Washington.
People call with a range of needs, including help paying rent and energy bills, low-cost medical and dental care, food, shelter, counseling, support groups, senior and aging resources, and more. When people call, the community information specialist searches a database of thousands of local and state resources to find help. In addition to addresses and phone numbers for agencies, the specialist provides a description of service, fees, eligibility, service hours, documents needed, geographic area served and more. Often, the specialists help people problem-solve, telling them about resources they never knew existed. For example, if a caller doesn’t qualify for heating bill payment assistance, he or she may qualify for other financial assistance, such as food stamps, reducing that person’s expenses and helping them pay their electricity or gas bill.
211info has agreements and works collaboratively with existing specialized hotlines such as domestic violence, mental health crisis, suicide prevention, child abuse and elder abuse services. Frequently, people calling 211 for one purpose, such as securing foreclosure prevention counseling, will reveal information that leads to a warm-transfer to one of the specialized hotlines.
During times of disaster or other emergency, 211 plays an important role distributing crucial yet non-emergency information to the public. Examples could include the locations of vaccination sites, shelters or sandbag distribution sites. Already, 211info operates a tsunami information line to provide information to members of the public who encounter debris from the Japanese tsunami on Oregon beaches. 211info also operates other specialized lines, including a foreclosure prevention line and a line aimed at helping veterans and active-duty military personnel find resources.
The benefits of 211 include helping people find assistance they may not otherwise find, relieving the burden on agency staff to provide referrals themselves, and reducing number of unnecessary calls to 9-1-1 for nonemergency purposes. 211info also regularly collects data on callers needs – both met and unmet – and demographics. The data, which is available to the public at 211info.org/reports, provides a real-time picture of met and unmet needs in any given community, helping foundations, nonprofits and governments when they’re trying to decide how to best fill gaps in the social service network.
211 was first launched by United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta in 1997. In July 2000, the Federal Communications Commission reserved the 211 dialing code for community information and referral services. “The FCC intended the 211 code as an easy-to remember and universally recognizable number that would enable a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies,” according to an FCC fact sheet. Every state now has some level of 211 service.
211info operates the 211 referral service for the state of Oregon and two Southwest Washington counties. The nonprofit began operating as a crisis line in the Portland metro area in 1980 and became a 211 service in 2004. The 211info Board of Directors launched a recently completed statewide expansion in 2009.The independent nonprofit operates a centralized call center and administrative office in Portland and has regional hub offices around Oregon. The regional hub staff include 211info staff and people who work for partner agencies and provide outreach and resource-gathering activities as in-kind support. The organizational model builds on the efficiencies of a central office and the local relationships and knowledge of regional hub offices.
A $366,000 grant from the Ford Family Foundation paid 70 percent of the costs of extending 211 service to 18 Oregon counties, including Douglas and Josephine counties. Thanks to that grant, every Oregon county now has access to 211. The Ford Family Foundation grant requires a 30 percent match to sustain 211 service. This request for funding from The Lawrence Foundation would help with the local match.
In the meantime, 211info is working on partnerships to ensure long-term financial viability. The organization has requested $750,000 per year from the state of Oregon, funding that would ensure access 24 hours per day, seven days per week for every Oregon county. A smaller state contribution of $400,000 per year would sustain the service at its current level – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday – for the entire state.
- Year established:1980
- Organization type:Grantseeker
- Country of registration:United States
- Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
- IRS Section:501(c)(3)
- IRS Subsection:None
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