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By Natalia Carrasco                   Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                 Facebook    Twitter         Blog
September 8, 2016                        
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One Degree website photo
A screen grab from the One Degree website


Orlando Pineda, an East Palo Alto resident and Eastside College Preparatory graduate, feels good everyday when he rides the train to his job at One Degree in San Francisco. A software engineer, he’s directed his career helping others in need by developing innovative technologies that challenge poverty, because he believes poverty doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Orlando's work now impacts his own community of East Palo Alto, because One Degree is now available in San Mateo County!

One Degree (www.1deg.org), a technology-driven nonprofit organization that makes it easy for low-income and at-risk people to access social services, launched in San Mateo County in August. Since One Degree is accessible on computers, tablets and smartphones, anyone can research and review over 1,000 currently available opportunities within San Mateo County in English and Spanish. They can also manage, save and track their findings. Users can add ratings and reviews just like in Yelp -the restaurant and service search platform- and share their findings with friends and family by email and text message.

For the past six months, the One Degree team has been getting to know the East Palo Alto community by working with the Ravenswood Family Health Center, the San Mateo County Family Health Division and other community organizations. The team has attended health fairs, farmers markets and other neighborhood events to listen to resident’s needs, understand the gaps in service areas, meet local social service agencies for the purpose of tailoring the One Degree free web platform to best serve families in East Palo Alto and throughout the county.

In East Palo Alto, where 45 percent of the city’s 30,000 residents live below the federal poverty line, many residents welcome One Degree as a much needed tool where they can easily find resources, such as affordable housing, employment opportunities, health clinics, child care and other vital services on one website. With its modern online search platform and robust eligibility engine, One Degree reduces the time it takes to research, find, and travel to multiple agencies to get the services residents need. Each program listed on One Degree has a clear “next step” for people to follow if they want to access it.

Rey Faustino, CEO and founder of One Degree, started the online service in 2012 to help families overcome poverty. As a Filipino immigrant, growing up in Los Angeles with limited means, Faustino wished his family had a way to access immigration and legal help, as well as after school care and health services.

For Faustino, “One Degree empowers people to quickly and easily find the best and most relevant life-saving resources for them. It has been a demonstrated model in San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties. Now over 91,000 households across San Mateo County will benefit from having 24-hour access to services in San Mateo County.”

“I’m excited to see how people will use One Degree to discover organizations or resources that they are eligible for that they didn’t even know existed. Not a lot of people know about some of the awesome organizations out there that provide resources to the community,” said Pineda., who thinks struggling families in his community can find support through the platform.

 “I really hope that One Degree helps connect the community with the champions they need to help them overcome whatever situation that they may be in,” Pineda said.

Natalia Carrasco, the head of Community Growth and Marketing at One Degree, will be training individuals and social work practitioners throughout San Mateo County over the next few months on the power of One Degree. Many local organizations, including Catholic Charities, College Track and Ravenswood Family Health Center have already benefited from trainings for their staff this month. Families and individuals will also have a chance to learn more about One Degree via community trainings, like the upcoming demos at the Catholic Charities Youth Club Parent Orientation nights.

For more information about One Degree, go to www.1deg.org or email Rey Faustino at rey@1deg.org