Sophia Johnson, Feedback Labs | May 23, 2023
Located in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, Congreso de Latinos Unidos (Congreso) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to enable individuals and families in predominantly Latino neighborhoods to achieve economic self-sufficiency and wellbeing. The agency has 40+ programs operating over 5 programmatic divisions namely Education, Employment and Training, Health and Safety, Housing, and Family & Parenting. As Congreso offers a wide range of services and programs, it is crucial to establish communication channels both internally (staff orientated) and externally (first time Congreso clients). Consequently, Congreso has been developing the Referral App through which staff and clients will ideally be able to refer to the needed programs.
Congreso divided the exploration and build out of the app into two phases: internal consisting of staff members and external that includes the first time Congreso clients or community members. In the LabStorm, Congreso presented to the audience to explore features needed for the external side of the app. With the goal that clients would be able to see the list of Congreso programs and their description, self-refer to programs as they see fit, and receive status updates on the referral itself, Congreso aims to incorporate the client’s voice and needs into the app before moving forward. As it is critical to involve clients in building a client-facing portal, the LabStorm participants brainstormed strategies to reach out to the clients to elicit their feedback.
Reaching out to the community. Attendees brainstormed ideas on getting the word out so that the community is aware of what Congreso is looking to do. Getting people to give feedback into the design or presenting a prototype to the clients can elevate the interaction with the app and change the response rate from the community. Congreso was recommended on setting a deadline to exhaust all the strategies, and complete the app so that development does not get prolonged due to outreach challenges. Furthermore, partnering with existing emergency services, leaving flyers and brochures at reentry centers or food pantry centers where there is an overlap of people who are connected to Congreso could expand the outreach pool. Leaving informational materials with social workers can be crucial as they are meeting people at crisis points and they can refer resources at Congreso after addressing the immediate needs. Having a bunch of free swag to drop off at the offices would also encourage people to get the survey link filled out.
Equity design in feedback. Attendees stressed the importance for embedding equity and paying people for their time for the feedback processes. Consequently, Congreso could focus more on quality feedback than the number of people giving the feedback. Having an iterative process of a handful of people at a time would help ensure quality feedback while carrying an equitable approach. Furthermore, it could be the case that people lack the time to test the app and hence engaging them in specific problems that Congreso is trying to solve with the app could be more effective. Attendees reminded that communicating the work is half the battle and that the process should be leveraged for the challenges that people are facing in general and positing the app to address those.
Building trust in the community. The discussion in the LabStorm reminded everyone that feedback can be fun and engaging, and they can be a trust building exercise. Planning how Congreso would close the loop and share the feedback they got from the community can underline the importance of feedback to the community. Moreover, celebrating the value that Congreso got from the feedback exercise would help convey the importance of community voice to Congreso and contribute to a trust based relationship. Participants also stressed that once Congreso is out in the community and has made people aware of what they do, even if people don’t give feedback, they will know that they can make use of Congreso’s programs and it would be a win-win situation either way.
As the engaging LabStorm came to an end, attendees concluded by transferring the success of the staff feedback to the client feedback process. Highlighting feedback success from the patterns found from the staff feedback would have a significant leverage for Congreso to gather feedback from the clients as they aim to have a more community-driven input in their app development.
Learn More About LabStorms
LabStorms are collaborative problem-solving sessions designed to help organizations tackle feedback-related challenges or share what’s working well in their practice.
Presenters leave the experience with honest, actionable feedback and suggestions to improve their feedback processes and tools.
To learn more about participating in a virtual LabStorm, please visit feedbacklabs.org/labstorms.