The problem we solve: The power of social work lies in connections and in learning from others. Currently, social workers don't have their own presence online. There are other places around the web where we can connect with each other, such as Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn. But these networks are not meant for collaboration and they do not offer one network where social workers can all come together. I believe in the power of collaboration and groups. Too often, social workers operate in isolation. For example, many social work students begin school not knowing much about the school, their internships or the social work community. Many students also move from other states to begin their studies and don't know all the local resources and agencies that can best help clients. Once out of school, social workers are left out on their own and have trouble connecting with like-minded people, or those working in related fields of work. SocialWorkr aims to bridge that gap and create communities of information.Progress to date:
Currently have a beta website where social workers can go and register to become a member and collaborate with others. Inviting friends, colleagues and other social work technology professionals to use the platform and discuss
Creator: Jose Alvear, LMSW
Location: New York
Education: New York University
Bio: Jose Alvear, LMSW, is a bilingual social worker interested in mental health, social justice and social work technology. Previously, Alvear worked as a writer and research analyst in the tech industry for about 20 years. He is now excited to enter a new career where he can bring together his intensely personal struggles into the world of social work in order to advocate for those who have no voice. He is a long-time blogger and recent started a podcast focusing on Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). Alvear recently founded SocialWorkr, the social network for social workers.
Advanced Degree(s): MSW
While SocialWorkr is a professional social network for social workers, the ultimate beneficiaries are our clients. Social workers abide by a professional code of ethics that embody competence, integrity and service to clients who may be vulnerable and needing help. Social workers' primary responsibility is to respect the well-being of clients" and to "promote the right of clients to self-determination and assist clients in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals". By bringing social workers together to collaborate across multiple disciplines, like homelessness, child welfare, mental health, addiction, LGBTQI, social justice and elder care, we can promote better outcomes for all.
SocialWorkr provides a social network so social workers can connect with each other professionally and solve problems. It will consist of a website and mobile application so that social workers can be connected and in touch with colleagues and share resources in real time. Currently, social workers may be connected via Facebook or LinkedIn, but they are not connected geographically or across interest groups. There is also limited functionality on Facebook. The network will encourage social workers to create groups and share information from different locations (country-wide, major cities), various topics (mental health, homelessness, foster care, etc.) and organizations (schools, organizations, agencies, etc.). The site will also have news and events that are critical to the success of social workers all over the U.S. Users will also be able to earn CE credits online and track their credits on the platform. For macro social workers, they can use SocialWorkr to publish their own blog posts and share their experiences. Social work students can collaborate as huge cohorts across classes, social work topics and other interests. In the future, SocialWorkr will also have a dedicated job board which will make it easy to upload resumes, apply for jobs and network across organizations and get recommendations.
Hospitals and other large institutions can benefit from SocialWorkr because social workers will be collaborating and sharing resources to improve the outcomes of their clients. If a social worker has a question about a referral, for example, they can ask others in the community or look for published resources that have already been shared online. Social workers will be able to collect, publish and organize all kinds of referral information, community resources and other events that benefit clients and their families.
Social service organizations, hospitals and other agencies can use SocialWorkr to create regional directories so that social workers better understand all resources available in a certain geographic area. Partnerships can be beneficial for clients so that they get the best services and outcomes possible. Social workers will be able to better identify partner agencies and referrals. An online referral system can also be generated by social workers.
Key Milestones Achieved and Planned
Currently, SocialWorkr is in alpha stage and has few users testing out the website and creating groups. Because it is a social network, the growth will occur quickly once the proper social workers begin using the platform in earnest. We estimate that over 1,000 social workers will be using the system in the next six months. In addition, SocialWorkr will roll out mobile apps to help the adoption in 12 months. Development on revenue generation will be a priority, which will include site sponsorships, job board and CE training. In the future, SocialWorkr can be licensed by social work schools to become their defacto social network to improve collaboration across students and alumni.
Our Competitive Advantages
Competition comes primarily from LinkedIn and Facebook because they already have a social network of users. However they do not have specific groups and collaborative features for social workers. There is currently no social network for social workers at this time so SocialWorkr will be first to market. Already there are very successful social networks for physicians and healthcare providers, Doximity and Sermo, which have recived millions in funding. Sermo was recently acquired for $35 milllion, in fact. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the primary affiliation for social workers in the U.S. but it does not have a social networking website or app and no way to form groups and collaborate.
Barriers to Entry
SocialWorkr will be trademarked and patents will be investigated in the future. Competitors may decide to launch after SocialWorkr, however the market will not sustain more than one social network. In addition, the long term vision of SocialWorkr is to create a platform that can be licensed to social work schools and universities to act as their network for students, faculty and alumni.
Traction, Funding and Partners
Currently, SocialWorkr is self funded by the founder/CEO Jose Alvear. The company is seeking financing of up to $10,000 in the short term to bring the platform to market fully and to create mobile applications. Stage two will involve additional funding to support new features such as CE online learning system, jobs boards and licensing of the platorm to universities.
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