California Office of Emergency Services, Listos California - Social Bridging Project
Ward Circle Strategies helped conceive of, and quickly stand up, a first-in-the-nation initiative, the “Social Bridging Project”, to reach vulnerable people one-on-one by phone and connect them with life-changing and lifesaving government and nonprofit resources throughout the state of California during COVID.
COVID-19 wellness calls and texts connected low-income older adults with food, mental health and other resources, and break through social isolation. Disaster readiness calls and texts helped Californians least likely to be prepared for natural disasters to get emergency alerts and plan safe evacuations. Equally important, the project’s callers, known as Bridgers, provided a caring touch, chatting with the people on the other end of the lines, asking about their interests, their emotional well-being, their lives.
These engagements were accomplished remotely in English, Spanish, and Tagalog by volunteers and staff across the state and nation, during the coronavirus pandemic and California’s catastrophic wildfire seasons.
In the early days of the pandemic, the project shared data on common vaccine concerns and misinformation that residents shared in these conversations with government stakeholders and provided data on crucial needs and service gaps throughout.
COVID-19 posed a unique challenge for targeted community outreach to deliver life-saving resources across the state and with audiences that had been missed by other methods. Working with the State of California, we needed to develop new outreach methods to make sure older Californians, farmworkers, isolated rural residents, and other vulnerable people knew that “they were not alone” and were helped with warm handoff connections to resources like food banks, friendship lines, vaccine and testing clinics, and an array of other services.