Written by: Jorge Blandón
I am excited to share an overview of UpTogether with you and showcase the different ways hard-working FII families are pushing us to rethink how we can use technology to learn from and invest in families. Specifically requested by FII families, UpTogether.org was developed by FII from the ground up thanks to the work of Samer Masry, our Chief Technology Officer. Our guiding principal was to create a safe and trusted space for families to connect with others in the FII community. We partnered with families to imagine a place unlike traditional social networking sites. Today, using UpTogether, FII families can find support in community, leverage one another’s experience and expertise, access dollars to invest in their initiatives, and track progress toward their self-determined goals.
Thanks to the engaged family community in UpTogether, we are deriving important lessons and insights that we use to design and offer direct investments for the entire FII community. The more FII families share, the more we learn. The more we learn, the more features and funding options we add to address family initiatives. The more features and funding options we add, the more value is created for families.
While UpTogether has many tools and features available, two great examples highlight how families can support one another and access dollars in a way that is unique to FII. The Find/Be the Expert feature allows families to crowdsource their own solutions or other community members’ expertise, and the UpTogether Fund offers families access to investment dollars for initiatives of their choosing.
Before sharing more about these two particular features, I want to show you what families see when they access UpTogether. Upon login, family members are invited to discover what others in the community are sharing, view the latest activity in any groups they’ve joined, and explore nearby events that other FII families are hosting or highlighting for the broader community. Members can like or comment on a post, create a post of their own, share an image or create an event for others to attend.
These basic features represent a rich source of information not only for FII families but also for the FII team. David Henderson, our Chief Data Officer, leads our efforts in mining the data for lessons and trends and through the use of topic modeling techniques, he and his team allow us to understand the interests of our families by studying what they are posting and talking about.
Most recently, as you can see in the table above, the majority of postings were related to issues involving children and family. By understanding this, FII can dynamically prioritize a portion of its resources to align with and support initiatives around youth and family such as scholarships, school expense dollars, transportation funds, after school programs and family activities. Because life is never static, the results are subject to change. Thus, the importance of continuous learning and our agility to adjust resource accordingly. Family engagement with UpTogether and strong partnerships with families allow us to do this on an iterative basis.
Now back to the two examples I mentioned above – Find/Be The Expert, and the UpTogether Fund (aka the resource Hub).
Find/Be The Expert
UpTogether recognizes that each of us brings something to the table and that, at some point, we rely on the support of others to accomplish our dreams irrespective of social or economic background. The ‘Find/Be The Expert’ feature is unique to UpTogether.org and was inspired by families that wanted to learn from the journey of other families like their own and families that were proud and willing to share their journey with others. Using this feature, families can search for advice from others in the FII community who share similar interests and experiences rather than seek the assistance of formal services elsewhere. This warehouse of expertise allows for the broad sharing, promotion, and celebration of capacities and knowledge resident in the community and demonstrates the willingness of our families to share their talents in support of one another.
Broad categories of expertise beyond those shown below include Health/Medical Care and Business.
If you know anything at all about FII, you know that our overriding mantra is to trust and invest in families. And family access to the UpTogether Fund (also known as Resource Hub) on UpTogether.org helps to fulfill this mission. FII families go to the UpTogether Fund to review their funding options and access dollars for any number of initiatives ranging from family outings to new home purchases.
Whether it’s the data we receive through family journaling, or the information our families share via all sections of UpTogether.org, these tools are designed to learn from families and ultimately meet and accelerate their self-identified goals. Built on the foundation of trust, UpTogether plays a key role in strengthening communities and imagining a present where technology creates value by investing directly in families.
If you’d like to experience UpTogether.org firsthand, we invite you to visit the UpTogether demo site at https://uptogether-demo.herokuapp.com/users/sign_in and log on using firstname.lastname@example.org for your username and Demo2016FII for your password.
Due to family trust and privacy issues, we are unable to provide you direct access to the live UpTogether.org site. However, the demo site has been designed to provide you with a close facsimile.