Rasmuson technology grant makes expanded services possible
Over the course of just one year, the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC) doubled its outreach. That means twice the number of victims of domestic violence receiving culturally sensitive advocacy. Twice the number of families finding assistance with court documents and legal representation. Twice the number of men and women being supported as they reenter society after incarceration.
And it means twice the amount of work for ANJC employees. But thanks to an $18,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation, ANJC has new tools to deliver its services to those in need here in Anchorage and beyond.
The funding provides for new technology that allows ANJC’s highly mobile staff to provide services both in the Anchorage office and on the road, as they connect individuals across the state with the support and advocacy they need.
Laptops for Justice
“We’ve significantly ramped up outreach, connecting with people in the community, particularly in the Native community,” described ANJC Director of Program Operations Tammy Ashley. “Over the next three years, we aim to visit 18 communities outside of Anchorage to provide case management and create awareness around what ANJC does.”
But providing case management on the road is impossible if you don’t have the tools. With the Rasmuson funding, ANJC staff is equipped with five Microsoft Surface Pro tablets that provide them with remote access when doing work off-site.
“They’re very convenient because we can take them downstairs for support group or Moral Reconation Therapy,” said Nayade Perez, ANJC Reentry Program Manager. “It’s really convenient and ensures consistency of our services because we can make appointments in person with people instead of dragging ten or twelve participants upstairs or hoping they’ll call us later for follow-up.”
“We know that even relatively small grants can help nonprofits make a big difference. This work by the justice center is so important.” – Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO
Each Surface Pro is outfitted with Windows 10 and the Microsoft Office Suite of programs. In addition to the Surface Pros, Rasmuson funding was used to purchase three desk jet printers, a payroll software package, Adobe Pro packages, and five Think Pad Lenovo laptops.
Rasmuson Foundation awards a number of grants each year for technology projects.
“We know that even relatively small grants can help nonprofits make a big difference,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “Laptops are a simple addition that can help dedicated workers do their jobs better in the field. This work by the justice center is so important.”
While some items will support administrative work at ANJC, items like the Surface Pros and Think Pads make bringing ANJC services to participants who can’t come to the Anchorage office that much easier.
Nayade, for example, can now access participant files or email parole officers as she sits with a client after a group therapy session, rather than returning to the office to do so.
“I use the Surface for everything,” she explained. “It’s a powerful piece of equipment, but the most important part is that it’s portable.”
Let’s Get Talking
“I get distracted easily, so it’s helpful to have a quiet space,” offered Dwayne Elia, who came to ANJC seeking support for his transition out of prison.
Although Dwayne was excited to “learn to instinctively do the right thing” with the help of ANJC, he wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of having to fill out the small stack of paperwork required to get reentry assistance from ANJC. The paperwork was made easier, though, when he learned there was a quiet, private place for him to complete it.
ANJC’s Talking Room has been in use a little over a year, said Reentry Case Manager Benjamin Briggs. Recently, the Rasmuson grant made the space more useful by providing new technology that allows staff to better serve the participants who require a little more privacy or solitude. A new, dedicated inkjet printer and computer allows participants use of the tools they need to fill out complicated paperwork in an environment where they can focus.
The room also provides a quiet place for victims of domestic violence to work with case managers on divorce packets or to make sensitive phone calls that require privacy.
ANJC is hurtling toward the future, expanding in new ways and bringing justice services to those in need far beyond Anchorage. Thanks to Rasmuson Foundation, the agency now has the tools it needs to do so.