Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2-1-1 Colorado and Lafayette's Foothills United Way Expand Services for Immigrants & Refugees

2-1-1 Colorado, which provides information and referrals to immigrants and refugees on resources such as citizenship classes, English as a second language programs, legal services and others, are supporting the expansion of the program. Read more about the expansion of this program by clicking the link.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Free Christmas Tornadoes Home Cleanup Hotline Available Now


Call 1-800-451-1954 for free help from local relief agencies in Texas, Miss., and other states.

BOULDER, Colo.[or your location] – Dec. 29, 2015  From now through January 15, 2016, Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (www.ITDRC.org) and VisionLink (www.VisionLink.org), are staffing and supporting a free hotline for debris removal and home cleanup after the recent tornadoes affecting several southern states. This hotline will connect survivors with reputable and vetted relief agencies that will assist in debris removal, tapping, and cleaning up homes, as they are able. All services are free, but service is not guaranteed due to the overwhelming need.

Voluntary relief agencies play a vital role in whole community recovery. The police and fire departments are there for emergencies, but they don’t have the time or resources to clean out homes. This partnership helps connect survivors with local relief agencies working in the area,” said Al Benson, Central Division Director with ITDRC whose volunteers are staffing the hotlines.

We are offering this service through January 15th to help facilitate rapid solutions by the various aid agencies standing by to assist those affected by the tornadoes," says Doug Zimmerman, CEO of VisionLink.  This hotline will alert multiple relief agencies that survivors need help. All services are free and performed by vetted and reputable relief agencies and members of VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), response times will vary so we ask residents their patience while the teams receive and organize their response to help.

Survivors needing assistance with home cleanup may call: 1-800-451-1954.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

3 Things Every Boss Should Be Doing With Their Employees Before Thanksgiving

Like it or not, holiday dinners with the in-laws and extended family are fast approaching. While overeating and over imbibing are often givens, so are the inevitable and contrived questions concerning your job:

So, how’s work going?”

Do you like what you are doing?”

Did you get that raise your were looking for?”

More often than not, these types of questions are answered with a default grimace and retort, “my job is O.K.”


Wouldn’t it be great if this year you had an answer that not only made you proud of what you are doing, but one that also made everyone at the table take note of how cool your company really is?


So, why am I just ‘O.K’ with my job?

This is a very tricky and complex question. If you are not happy with your job, you may want to consider looking for another. But, if you don’t know how to describe to your extended family how your work and company is awesome, the problem and blame may fall on your boss.

It is your bosses’ responsibility to engage and empower.


Research shows millennials are seeking work for companies with a purpose. The need by many is to find meaning in their jobs. Working 40+ hours a week without believing that your hard work is helping the greater good is as rewarding as a holiday dinner for one (without booze). Studies have also shown that monetary rewards aren’t necessarily the silver bullet in maintaining sustainability while decreasing turnover. The key is to engage and empower your employees.

Three keys to engage and empower your employees:

1) Empowered Management


First off, does your team know your company’s values and mission? Can they rattle it off to you before you finish pouring your first cup of coffee in the break room? It’s fine if your company has yet to establish set values and a mission. In fact, it is a good idea to construct these core ideas with input from everyone in the company—both old and new. Value alignment is integral in producing engagement in all departments. When a company’s employees understand what the organization truly stands for, they are more confident and less likely to respond, “My job is O.K.’” when asked at the dinner table. Why? Their work now has meaning and purpose. They understand and believe in their marching orders. They are more passionate, creative, and productive.

2) Focused Transparency

Everything a company does should clearly reinforce and align with the company’s core values. A value is a principal that guides behavior. An all-staff meeting that does not clearly illustrate how company goals and impact reflect the company’s values, will inevitably fail to give employees a shared sense of purpose they desire in their job. A transparent culture based on shared company values will create trust, loyalty, and passion among all employees.

3) Choice and Collaboration

Once you have created and are clearly supporting your company’s unique values, invite your employees to participate and engage with your company’s efforts. Promote value by encouraging and incentivizing your employees to collaborate with your company’s marketing and communication efforts. Invite your employees to share, like, and comment on your company’s content. Even better, empower you employers to write their own content supporting your company’s value. Expand your company’s network by encouraging (and rewarding) your employees to share your company via their own networks.

Conclusion

Increased employee satisfaction, productivity, retention, recruitment, and innovation are all potential benefits of strong employee engagement programs. An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work. Management that empowers and rallies employees around company goals that reflect shared values, creates trust, loyalty, and passion among all employees. Creating channels in which employees can collaborate and share their company’s values, further engages and inspires the employee.

Before the holiday season starts, take a moment and ask yourself how your team will be answering the unavoidable question of, “How’s work going?” Then ask yourself if you have adequately covered these three keys to better engage and empower your employee.

Is your team engaged? What benefits does your company see in having an engaged workforce? Are you an employee that does not feel engaged?

Comment and let me know!


Jason Fowler is the Director of Marketing at VisionLink, a community inspired and designed software and  company based in Boulder, CO.

To contact Jason directly, please email: fowler@visionlink.org

Thursday, November 19, 2015

VisionLink’s Strategic Advantage Consulting is Proud to support the Complete College America Strategic Planning Academy



VisionLink’s unique Strategic Advantage consulting department is proud to be supporting the Complete College America Strategic Planning Academy (CCA). This is the 15th CCA-affiliated Academy that Lois Ann Porter, Visionlink’s Sr. Vice President, has helped design and implement. The Academy format is based on Lois Ann’s Institute design. 

The CCA’s “Scaling Corequisite” initiative is a 3-year effort funded primarily by the Lumina Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and with supplemental support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation of New York, to dramatically increase the number of states and postsecondary institutions scaling corequisite academic support for students who would have otherwise been placed in traditional remedial education sequences.

Participating states will develop work plans for the development and implementation of corequisite instructional models, develop multiple gateway math pathways for students aligned to programs of study, and develop an intake process for guiding students into appropriate gateway courses either with or without additional corequisite academic support.

States participating in the Complete College America Strategic Planning Academy are:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • West Virginia

VisionLink is proud to partner with the Complete College America and believe that “We all work better by working together”. 

For questions about our work with the CCA, please contact:


porter@visionlink.org

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Everything You Wanted to Know About LinkedIn, But Were Too Afraid to Ask...

How Do You and Your Organization Use LinkedIn? 


For some, LinkedIn is a necessary evil. But why not use LinkedIn to your advantage? Do you know how LinkedIn content can drastically increase your company's SEO ranking? Improve your social media marketing? Improve your brand visibility and employee satisfaction? If you are not using these suggestions, you are hindering your own professional online presence, as well as your company's.


Please click the link below to learn more about how you and your organization could be benefiting from properly using LinkedIn.




Want to know more about LinkedIn? 

I would love to show you. 

Please email me directly at:

fowler@visionlink.org

Friday, October 16, 2015

West Virginia VOAD Receives the Governor’s Service Award



VisionLink would like to congratulate the Member Agencies of the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) on receiving the Governor’s Service Award. The award honors WV VOAD’s dedication to service and acknowledges their commitment to volunteerism throughout West Virginia.

The West Virginia VOAD connects various organizations enabling them to work together during disaster, providing response, relief, and recovery.

Below is a copy of the speech and video introducing WV VOAD for the award:



To learn more about the WV VOAD, please visit their website:

www.WVVOAD.org

As a national NVOAD partner, VisionLink is proud to provide an online presence for every state VOAD, as well as the enterprise system behind the scenes to integrate and unify these state sites into a cohesive national system.

To learn more about VisionLink and our work with both the national and state VOADs, please visit our website:

www.VisionLink.org

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Free South Carolina Disaster Home Cleanup Hotline Available Now

Call 1-800-451-1954 for free help from local relief agencies

BOULDER, Colo. – Oct. 7, 2015 – From now through October 31st, Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (www.ITDRC.org), Humanity Road (www.HumanityRoad.org), and VisionLink (www.VisionLink.org), are staffing and supporting a free hotline for the survivors of the South Carolina floods. This hotline will connect survivors with reputable and vetted relief agencies that will assist in cleaning and mucking out homes. All services are free.

“Voluntary relief agencies play a vital role in whole community recovery. The police and fire department can save your life in an emergency, but they do not have the time or resources to help you clean out your home,” said Dr. Douglas Zimmerman, president and CEO of VisionLink. “This partnership helps connect survivors with local relief agencies in your area,” said Joe Hillis, operations Director with ITDRC who along with Humanity Road is providing volunteers to staff the hotlines.

“We are offering this service for the month of October to help facilitate rapid solutions by the various aid agencies standing by to assist those impacted by the floods,” said Cat Graham, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Humanity Road.  This hotline will alert multiple relief agencies that survivors need help. All services are free and performed by vetted and reputable relief agencies and members of the South Carolina VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), response times will vary so we ask the citizens of South Caroline for their patience while the teams receive and organize their response to help.

Survivors needing assistance with home cleanup in South Carolina may call: 1-800-451-1954

About VisionLink

VisionLink has been supporting communities since 1991. VisionLink manages millions of client records for our customers, who in turn manage information about human service providers, government agencies, volunteers and donors, and schools and employers in 8,000 communities across the United States and in more than 100 countries around the world.

It is reassuring to know that VisionLink software has been tested like no other. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, VisionLink became the nation's system of record for millions of people and thousands of shelters. VisionLink now provides mission critical systems for the American Red Cross (National Shelter System, the Coordinated Assistance Network, and Safe & Well), United Ways, agencies supporting aging adults, federal and state government departments, international pharmaceutical and medical equipment donors, as well as many large and small nonprofit organizations across the nation and around the world.

More information about VisionLink can be found at http://www.VisionLink.org.

Media Contact:
Aaron Titus
303.402.0170x118
titus@visionlink.org


Monday, October 5, 2015

Geo-Tagged Map Shows Impact of Hurricane Joaquin in Real Time


Map illustrates damage reports as hurricane hits North Carolina.


BOULDER, Colo. — Oct. 5, 2015— VisionLink, a community inspired software and consulting company, has developed a free, shareable, real-time, geo-tagged map depicting actual damage reports produced by Hurricane Joaquin.

VisionLink is partnering with local churches and community groups to poll between 2,000-3,000 people throughout North Carolina. The goal is to provide the public, media outlets and participating organizations with locally vetted information about the hurricane’s impact from those living in the storm's path.

“Todays technology allows us to gather information like never before and in this case, directly from those impacted by the hurricane to improve situational awareness, and promote whole-community recovery. This tool allows anyone in the country to track the impact of this major weather event,” said Dr. Douglas Zimmerman, president and CEO of VisionLink.

VisionLink encourages local and national media to share and embed this unique map on their websites to better educate their audience on the hurricane’s progress and impact. For instructions to view, share or add the map to your own site, please visit: www.HurricaneJoaquinMap.com












About VisionLink

VisionLink has been supporting communities since 1991. VisionLink manages millions of client records for our customers, who in turn manage information about human service providers, government agencies, volunteers and donors, and schools and employers in 8,000 communities across the United States and in more than 100 countries around the world.

It is reassuring to know that VisionLink software has been tested like no other. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, VisionLink became the nation's system of record for millions of people and thousands of shelters. VisionLink now provides mission critical systems for the American Red Cross (National Shelter System, the Client Assistance Network, and Safe & Well), United Ways, agencies supporting aging adults, federal and state government departments, international pharmaceutical and medical equipment donors, as well as many large and small nonprofit organizations across the nation and around the world.

More information about VisionLink can be found at http://www.VisionLink.org

Media Contact: 
Ray Thompson
Aaron Titus
303.402.0170x2

Monday, September 28, 2015

Is Your Software Really 508 Compliant? Three Things You Should Know.















Each day we find ourselves more and more reliant on technology. Our dependence on computers and smart phones has naturally produced some major advancement in technology. Though both exciting and liberating, major advancements in technology have also produced some unforeseen consequences. People with disabilities, for example, have increasingly faced barriers to access and enjoy the same technology we often take for granted every day. In 1998, the US Congress sought to alleviate this problem by amending the Rehabilitation Act. Specifically, Congress enacted Section 508, requiring federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.

Fast-forward 17 years and it is easy to forget what it means exactly to be 508 compliant. For example, who has to be 508 compliant? Does it only extend to federal agencies? Who ensures that tech companies adhere to 508 standards? What should I be looking for in a 508 compliant software vendor?

Fortunately, 508 compliance is a topic easily found and discussed ad nauseam across the Internet. In fact, you can find all of the Section 508 standards neatly listed HERE.

Instead of reviewing each of the many 508 standards, this article covers the three biggest misconceptions and myths concerning 508 compliance:

Only federal agencies have to be 508 compliant.

TRUE
. Contrary to what you may read on the Internet and what vendors might tell you, 508 compliance does not directly apply to the private sector. In fact, 508 compliance does not generally extend to agencies or groups using federal funds. I know what you are thinking, “why have these standards in the first place?” For starters, federal agencies represent a tremendous purchasing power and by uniformly defining and adhering to “accessible” technology they are setting a standard for the rest to follow.  Consequently, if two companies are bidding for a (for a?) government contract and one is 508 compliant, then this company is likely to win the contract.

There is a “508 certificate” proving Section 508 compliance.

FALSE. Although some software vendors will make you think they are 508 certified via some third party certification process, a real Section 508 certificate does not exist. The onus to determine whether a product or a service is 508 compliant is on the buyer and not the seller. When you are looking to take on a new vendor, request to see their 508 Evaluation Template to verify whether they meet your company’s particular compliance needs.

508 compliant websites are ugly and difficult to implement.

FALSE. First of all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we do not need to look far to see many elegant and beautiful sites that follow accessibility standards. For example, WhiteHouse.gov follows the Section 508 compliance standards and according to OneUpWeb has one of the best user experiences on the web.  On the private sector side, one only has to look at Apple’s acclaimed website to fully appreciate how modern and chic can be accessible to all.  With regards to implementation, best design and development practices already align with accessibility compliance (e.g. ALT tags for images).  Though additional considerations should be considered before building a 508 compliant site, these are all easily incorporated into the overall workflow of website design and construction.

CONCLUSION

Although there are various requirements in being 508 compliant, the key take away is to understand these requirements and ensure your software vendor or website design team knows what is needed before starting your next project.

I have the pleasure of working for VisionLink, a software and consulting company who holds itself to be 508 compliant. VisionLink customers manage millions of client and resource records for more than 6,000 communities across the United States and the world. From Meals On Wheels programs to 2-1-1 Information & Referral Centers and everything in-between, VisionLink has been providing communities with humanitarian inspired software and consulting solutions since 1991. For our systems to work and track outcomes for the people that our clients serve, we are proud to provide accessible and navigable software and websites for all.

For further questions about 508 compliance or to learn more about VisionLink, please contact me directly at:



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Medical Surplus Alliance Connects With Guatemalan Hospital With Help From Boulder Based Software Company & Acclaimed Photographer

Acclaimed photographer and visual engineer, Ben Von Wong, is working with Avencera Partners, VisionLink, Inc. and the MedSurplus Alliance to create a groundbreaking video for an upcoming social media fundraising campaign. Medical Bridges, a Houston based Medical Surplus Recovery Organization and their Guatemalan partners Amigos Pro Obras Sociales organized the difficult and complex film settings that included hospitals, clinics, patient homes and the surrounding community. The team also visited Obras Sociales Del Santo Hermano Pedro, hospital and clinic in Antigua, Guatemala to interview patients, staff and volunteers regarding how quality medical donations are saving lives and why more are desperately needed.

The MedSurplus Alliance was created to promote medical product donations standards and practices to help ensure that quality medical donations reach people in the developing world.


In the above photo the Von Wong team is interviewing Linda Esposta the Director of Program and Logistics for Surgicorps to learn more about how their volunteer surgical teams rely on donated medical products from Pittsburgh based Brother’s Brother Foundation, Global Links and other Medical Surplus Recovery Organizations to create operating rooms and equip local medical teams.

The team enjoying some local Guatemalan cuisine.
Bottom Left:  Pili Mejia (Amigos de Obras), Ryan Zimmerman (Photographer, VisionLink), Pat Black (Pat Black Photography), Lori Warrens (Senior Director, Community Solutions, VisionLink), Al Curasco (Medical Bridges), Regina Villeda (Amigos de Obras), Anna Tenne (Anna Tenne Photography), Ben Von Wong (Von Wong Photography).

VisionLink is proud to be partnering with these great organizations and firmly believes that by working together, we can make a difference. 

To learn more about the great work these groups are doing, please click the following links:

VisionLink — www.visionlink.org

Medical Surplus Alliance — www.medsurplusalliance.org

Obras Sociales Del Santo Hermano — www.obrashermanopedro.org/

Ben Von Wong Photography — http://www.vonwong.com/





About VisionLink:
VisionLink has been providing communities with humanitarian inspired software and consulting solutions since 1991. VisionLink customers manage millions of client and resource records for more than 8,000 communities across the United States and in more than 100 countries around the world.