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Orange County United Way Collaborates With Amazon Web Services On New App To Help Deliver Financial Assistance To People On The Verge Of Homelessness

Orange County United Way Collaborates with Amazon Web Services on New App to Help Deliver Financial Assistance to People on the Verge of Homelessness

AssistOC App Helps Manage Referrals and Fund Approval Process for Orange County Community Members Seeking $500 Emergency Debit Cards Amid COVID-19

Irvine, CA (June 15, 2020) – Orange County United Way collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world’s leading cloud services provider, to build AssistOC, a highly-secure mobile and web-enabled app that allows individuals to submit requests for financial assistance to the nonprofit’s Homelessness Prevention Program via a smartphone or personal computer.

With limits on staff and resources, Orange County United Way needed a platform to manage the application-to-approval-to-fund process that would not inundate a call center or create lengthy queue times, and would allow financial relief to arrive in a timely manner to those who need it the most. Over the course of two weeks, Orange County United Way built and launched an application that automates this process and allows people in Orange County to receive financial assistance faster and more efficiently. AWS provided critical technical support and cloud services to help the team quickly achieve this result.

“We’re so grateful for this unique and cutting-edge collaboration with AWS,” said Susan B. Parks, President and CEO of Orange County United Way. “There are many individuals and families who have lost their jobs or now have reduced income due to COVID-19, and they could really benefit from financial assistance to make monthly rent and utility payments. With the new AssistOC app built on AWS, eligible individuals will be able to more easily and quickly apply for emergency funds.”

Here’s how the AssistOC app works:

  • Step 1: Orange County residents can call 2-1-1 OC (Dial 2-1-1) where they are identified as a possible candidate for the program, then scheduled into an available appointment time slot. Residents will also soon be able to use a chatbot on Facebook Messenger, built on AWS, to schedule an appointment as an alternative to calling 2-1-1.
  • Step 2: AssistOC hotline staff will call the resident at the appointment time. They will ask some qualifying questions and create the resident’s account.
  • Step 3: The resident completes his or her application online through the new account profile created at AssistOC. They can upload eligibility documentation simply with a phone camera if they lack access to a scanner or other technology.
  • Step 4: AssistOC will verify and approve the resident’s application and supporting documents.
  • Step 5: AssistOC informs Bank of America to release relief funds in the form of a $500 debit card to approved applicants.

Service provider partners can also use a website, hosted on AWS, to refer individuals or families directly.

Orange County United Way’s Homelessness Prevention Program is supported by the Pandemic Relief Fund, created to assist low-income individuals and families at imminent risk of homelessness, the current Orange County population experiencing homelessness, and vital social and human services.

In the last five weeks, this Homelessness Prevention Program has been initiated and executed, utilizing a portion of Orange County United Way’s Pandemic Relief Fund donations. Since moving to the cloud and launching the AssistOC app, Orange County United Way has worked with more than 33 service provider partners to distribute $500 emergency debit cards to more than 3,000 families on the brink of homelessness.

“AWS is proud to support Orange County United Way’s efforts and help them deliver on their mission with cloud technology,” said Dave Levy, Vice President, U.S. Government and Nonprofits, Worldwide Public Sector at AWS. “We look forward to seeing the meaningful impact their work makes on the individuals and families in their community, and hope that the AssistOC app helps even more individuals who are on the verge of homelessness.”

Last month, Orange County United Way launched its ‘OC Family to Family’ fundraising campaign, dedicated solely to homelessness prevention efforts to help an additional 2,000 families who need financial assistance with rent, utilities, food, or other basic needs during the pandemic. There is also a new opportunity to help an additional 400 families thanks to a generous $100k dollar-for-dollar match from Homeful Foundation. Donations of any size are currently being accepted, and will be immediately put toward more $500 debit cards.

To make a donation to the ‘OC Family to Family’ Campaign, please visit UnitedWayOC.org/Family or text ‘Family2Family’ to 51555.


Today’s Orange County United Way is doing more for the Education, Health, Housing and Financial Stability of every person in Orange County. More than a fundraiser, we’re hands-on, delivering more than 50 Community Impact programs countywide. We focus on long-term solutions to the most critical interconnected challenges facing local children and families. United Way is doing more to make long-term measurable difference in the lives of children and families right here in Orange County. To learn more or do more with us, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.


Media Contact: Annie Noebel, anoebel@cornerstonecomms.com, (949) 525-7024

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