Our Model: Systems Change

As a systems change agency, we are developing a more efficient and dignified “leg up” approach to meeting the basic needs of low-income children and families.

Currently, many public agencies addressing unmet material needs for people receiving welfare benefits provide supplemental cash aid for retail purchase, reimburse receipts, or provide vouchers – each of which requires agencies to pay retail price or higher, despite the substantial volume of materials. Under these current systems, the government forfeits market power and several benefits for convenience.

Diaper assistance programs provide just one example of how a “supply bank” model could drastically cut costs and serve more people in need.

Example: Diaper Procurement

The chart above compares the price per diaper paid by government agencies that provide welfare clients with vouchers, public agencies that procure diapers, other community-based organizations (CBOs) that procure diapers and SupplyBank.Org.

The same reasons that all levels of government support food banks instead of reimbursing grocery store receipts are why a supply banking system would be a better investment of precious public resources. The supply bank model can serve twice as many people with the same investment.

 

As with food banks, scalability, market power, centralization of resources and modernized logistics drive our business approach, while the respectful “leg up” distribution model (free of welfare lines), the same quality control a consumer would expect for everything we distribute, and deep community collaboration frame our approach to service delivery.

We distribute nearly all of our materials through 450 partnering agencies’ programs that provide pathways to self-sufficiency. These agencies range from school districts for school supplies and other materials for K-12 students, First 5 Family Resource Centers and WIC sites for Diaper Kits, community college districts for laptops, and similar structures for other programs. These entities already means test for low-income, so we can ensure we are reaching those in need and make our distributions part of preexisting programs. We also distribute to more than 75 domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters and refugee centers.