007 - Can You Do It?

This is not your typical government contract
 

the story

This is the sixth episode of One Billion. In this part of the 100&Change grant application, we are asked "Can you do it?" We navigate questions around our previous performance and organizational capacity - both challenges for an organization that is only nine months old. 

In Episode 6, we introduce you to Greg Gershman, the Co-founder and CEO of AdHoc. Ad Hoc is a small software engineering company that came out of the successful effort to rescue HealthCare.gov after its disastrous initial launch in 2013. Greg and Paul, Ad Hoc’s cofounders and principals, were part of the original team of 5 folks from outside of government who were brought in to fix it.  You'll hear about their journey to stabilize the site and help enroll millions of Americans in affordable health coverage. Through this story Greg demonstrates the power of small teams - revealing how the much can be accomplished by a collection of inspired and talented individuals. 

relevant links

credits

Special thanks to Greg Gershman for sharing his story with us.

Adam Selzer recorded, edited, and mixed the episode. He also wrote & recorded the music. 

Lena Selzer got the show notes up & running.

006 - What's the Evidence?

the lust for certainty
 

the story

This is the sixth episode of One Billion. In this part of the 100&Change grant application, we are asked to articulate "What's the evidence?" We discuss the challenge of providing definitive evidence, risk assessments, and evaluation metrics for a project that is emergent and focused on bringing about change in new ways. 

In our conversations, we introduce you to Gabriela Dorantes - Civilla's resident grant expert who gives us insight into the process and challenges behind the traditional grant making process. You'll hear her discuss the results of crafting applications that promise certainty from the outset. You'll also be introduced to Fred Wagner - Civilla's newest teammate who walks us through the intersection of quantitative and qualitative research - shedding light on the approach that we will need to take in order to build a case that benefits both people and the system at hand. 

relevant links

credits

Special thanks to Gabriela Dorantes and Fred Wagner for interviewing and sharing their experiences with us.

Adam Selzer recorded, edited, and mixed the episode. He also wrote & recorded the music. 

Lena Selzer got the show notes up & running.

005 - The Problem, Part 2

It is usually the long shots that change the world
 

THE STORY

This is the fifth episode of One Billion. In this part of the 100&Change grant application, we are asked to articulate "What is the Problem?" In our line of work, we believe deeply that problems are best defined through the stories and perspectives of those who are closest to them. In this case, that is the story of residents who are interfacing with the public benefit system and those who are working to lead/operate that system in the State of Michigan.

In Episode 5, we introduce you to Tim Becker - the Chief Deputy Director at Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. You'll travel into his office in Lansing as he brings us through the challenges and complexities involved with leading a major government bureaucracy. Through this story, he walks us into the experience of linking arms with Civilla to take on Project Re:form - shedding light on why the project is important and reflecting the level of courage that will be required to see innovation all the way through. 

Tim Becker, Chief Deputy Director at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Michael Brennan, CEO of Civilla, at the MDHHS headquarters in Lansing.

Tim Becker, Chief Deputy Director at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Michael Brennan, CEO of Civilla, at the MDHHS headquarters in Lansing.

 
A Federal Funds Chart depicting the benefits and services ecosystem for low-income Americans. 80+ programs accounting for $1 Trillion per year. This chart is hanging up in Tim's office and continues to remind us of how big, complex, and hard to navigate these systems are.

A Federal Funds Chart depicting the benefits and services ecosystem for low-income Americans. 80+ programs accounting for $1 Trillion per year. This chart is hanging up in Tim's office and continues to remind us of how big, complex, and hard to navigate these systems are.

relevant links

credits

Special thanks to Tim Becker for taking the time to interview and share his story with us.

Michael Brennan conducted the interview.

Adam Selzer recorded, edited, and mixed the episode. He also wrote & recorded the music. 

Lena Selzer got the show notes up & running.

004 - The Problem

I keep coming back to the term “public benefit.” We are the public. We all are the public.

the story

This is the fourth episode of One Billion. In this part of the 100&Change grant application, we are asked to articulate "What is the Problem?" In our line of work, we believe deeply that problems are best defined through the stories and perspectives of those who are closest to them. In this case, that is the story of residents who are interfacing with the public benefit system in the State of Michigan.

In Episode 4, we introduce you to Dr. Latina Denson - an extraordinary woman whose input, guidance, and participation has guided our team's work since Day 1. You'll travel into her living room as she brings us through the arc of her life. You'll hear of her childhood, the journey to attaining her PhD, and the story of an ordinary day that ended up changing the course of her life. Through this story, she walks us through the experience of accessing public benefits - revealing how the system ends up feeling to those who are in the midst of a deeply personal time in their lives. 

Dr. Latina Denson. Portrait by Marisol Dorantes.

Dr. Latina Denson. Portrait by Marisol Dorantes.

relevant links

credits

Special thanks to Dr. Latina Denson for opening her home and sharing her story with us.

Adam Selzer recorded, edited, and mixed the episode. He also wrote & recorded the music. 

Lena Selzer got the show notes up & running.

Shout out to Bruce Boyd at the Stanford d.school for lending us audio gear in the 11th hour.

003 - Your Team

When you look at any change that has happened on the planet - it rarely ever happens alone
 

the story

This is the third episode of One Billion. In the show, we start to build our dream team. We analyze of our own team's strengths, discuss how to build an Ocean's Eleven team, and attempt to recruit our first three team members: Sarah Stein Greenberg, Michelle Obama, and Latina Denson.

We launch an open search for individuals to join the project, with a particular focus on people who:

  • Are "best in the world" in their particular skill set
  • Are seeking deep meaning in their lives
  • Can do the work that a 10-person team can normally do 
  • Compliment our team's strength mixture

Have someone in mind? Nominate them today!

nomination form

 

our strengths

  • Mike: Futuristic, Individualization, Ideation, Connectedness, Relator
  • Adam: Activator, Futuristic, Individualization, Ideation, Strategic
  • Lena: Arranger, Relator, Self Assurance, Positivity, Strategic
  • Gaby: Discipline, Responsibility, Learner, Achiever, Relator
  • Torrianna: Individualization, Arranger, Developer, Belief, Responsibility

relevant links

credits

Adam Selzer recorded, edited, and mixed the episode. He also wrote & recorded the music. 

Lena Selzer got the show notes up & running.

002 - Executive Summary

The thing about a domino is that it can knock down another. And if we can knock down a domino that is in the service of a public good, then that seems like a really worthy project
 

the story

This is the second episode of One Billion. In the show, we start to develop the Executive Summary for an idea that doesn't quite exist yet. We bring you into Project Re:form - an initiative that was launched by Civilla last Fall to improve access to public benefits in Michigan. 

In the State of Michigan there are over 2.6 million residents that seek public benefits each year - yet over $1 Billion of public benefit is left unclaimed. There are many barriers that prevent residents from achieving assistance, one of which is the long and complex application (DHS-1171). The DHS-1171 application is the longest form of its kind in the United States:

 

This is only one step in a much larger journey. Once an applicant turns that form into the office, this is what happens:

 

There must be a better way.

Episode 2 documents how a small team operating out of a storage closet brought this challenge to the attention of the State's leadership team and initiated action. The State recognized this as a major opportunity for change, and came to the table as an active and engaged partner in the project. Together, the community team & State worked to lift up the stories of residents & caseworkers in order to re-imagine the face of public benefits in Michigan.

The final prototype that emerged was an application that is centered squarely around the needs of residents & caseworkers, while still meeting federal requirements. On the front end - it offers a 90% reduction in length and begins to facilitate a meaningful relationship between applicants & their caseworkers. On the back-end - it offers an estimated cost savings of $40 million annually for MDHHS.

We believe that the work initiated in Michigan has the potential to impact public service delivery organizations across the USA. This episode walks you into our goals for the 100&Change grant - which are to create a clear path to accessing critical assistance programs for residents across the country, humanize that path to ensure residents are empowered to access the supports they need, and to simplify currently complex processes so that the DHS staff and customers can work together in creating positive social impact.

Subscribe to One Billion via iTunes.

community team

This project was put into the world by a group of committed individuals from across Detroit, the USA, and the world.  There were tens and tens of people who contributed to the work, including but not limited to:

  • Mike Brennan
  • Lena Selzer
  • Latina Denson
  • James Paek
  • Claire Jenks
  • Jonty Olliff-Cooper
  • Kacha Azema
  • Alissa Kline
  • Rachel Williams
  • Marisol Dorantes
  • Seth Archambault
  • Janice Cho
  • Gaby Dorantes
  • Ephraim Clark
  • Anna Thoreau
  • Michelle Merriweather
  • Oakland Family Services
  • Tim Becker
  • Terrence Beurer
  • Phillip Bergquist
  • Jeff Cook & the incredible staff at the Hamtramck DHHS office

Huge love and thanks to all those to lent their passion, talent, and time to making the project go.

relevant links

credits

Adam Selzer recorded, edited, and mixed the episode. He also wrote & recorded the music. He also recorded & edited the videos.  

Lena Selzer got the show notes up & running.

001 - Pilot Episode

What happens if we just lift up the hood - at least on one side of it?
 

the story

In Episode 1 we introduce you to the individuals who founded Civilla as we set out on a journey to assemble our very first $100 Million idea. 

Civilla is a Center for Social innovation based in Detroit, Michigan. The grant we are applying for is called 100&Change - a public competition launched by the MacArthur Foundation

The idea surfaced in a flurry of text messages last week. Episode 1 documents our team's back-and-forth conversations about our decision to a) go after this super-sized grant and b) start a podcast that openly shares our journey. You'll hear about the fear of vulnerability and our reflections on the lack transparency that we typically see in philanthropy. 

Subscribe to One Billion via iTunes.

relevant links

credits

Adam Selzer recorded, edited, and mixed the episode. He also wrote & recorded the music. He also created the 100 billion logo.

Lena Selzer got this thing online.

(we're a small and mighty team).

"workout think topic"

At Civilla, we meet at the gym every morning at 9 am. Our first hour of work is a solid workout. This morning, the team woke up to a flurry of texts from Mike - our CEO. Something about 100 million dollars and 1 billion people, but it wasn't about the money it was about the something something...

 

It's currently 11:40 pm, and here we are filing our first blog post right before bed. Over the next 83 days we will be sharing out our very first effort to raise $100 Million (but it's not about the $100 Million).