It’s that time of the month again! It’s time to showcase local HOPEsters of the month! This month I present to you a Q & A with Andre Gibson, of Gibson Technologies. With over 15 years of professional experience in information technology, Gibson has shown the community the importance of its intersection with community development. Enjoy the Q & A!
1) Tell me a little about yourself?
I’m a fellow of Leadership Newark, a 2-year fellowship program for qualified professionals committed to the Greater Newark community. The program provides a forum for emerging leaders to debate and discuss public policy issues as they move towards developing solutions and potential programs which could better the community.
I also a fellow of the NJ Social Innovation Institute, a new program offered through a partnership between Rutgers University and PSEG. This program was ran by Dr. Jeffrey Robinson who developed this program to encourage non-profit organizations and innovative individuals who want to solve problems and create jobs at the same time.
2) What impact does your profession, product, or service (whether employed and/or self-employed) have on the future of communities and/ or organizations that help communities?
I worked in the non-profit sector for approximately 13+ years. I’ve witnessed firsthand on a daily basis the frustrations and difficulties individuals encountered while applying for various government services. This motivated me to create a cloud-based system called Tollo Community System™ that makes it easier for individuals to apply for services. Tollo Community System™ is an online resource that will assist in connecting anyone seeking social or financial assistance to programs and/or services within their community. These services include employment, financial assistance, re-entry after prison, housing and other social service needs. Organizations and government agencies operate with enormous information blind spots. These blind spots keep them from finding those who are truly in need of their services. They also keep them from providing additional aid to those they are already serving. For example, a single mother with an 8-year-old child with an annual income of less than $24,000 is eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Section 8 Housing, child care services and Medicare. However, she may not be aware that she also qualifies for a mentoring program for her child, $10 only Internet Access, free legal services, free cell phone service, free tax preparation, energy assistance and credit score repair services.
3) Do you have hope for cities? Why?
Absolutely. Without hope there wouldn’t be any social changes in the world. To a degree most people should think back to when they were younger about that one person in their community who was not only vocal about change in the community, they put action behind their conviction. Change always starts small and eventually becomes bigger if your voice becomes louder.
4) What advice would you give to an up-and-coming “HOPEster” who wants to bring change to her/his community? (see blog entry: https://hope4cities.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/im-a-hopesternot-a-hipster/)
It starts with knowledge. It starts with knowing your community and/or your mission.
Gordon Moore – Co-Founder of Intel once said “People with the power are the ones that have the understanding of what’s going on, not necessarily the ones on top. And it’s very important that those people that have the knowledge are the ones that make the decision”
A lot of this can be achieved by asking the right questions. A quality question gets a quality answer.
Issues: “Accountants say the numbers are bad.”
Ask: “How do you know?” “How are the numbers bad?” “The numbers are bad compared to what?”
Issues: “It’s going to be impossible to do it by Friday?
Ask: What prevents it from being possible? “What happens if you find a way to do it by Friday?”
Issues: “I want you and Andre to talk about the new Project?
Ask: “What specifically do you want?” “What will having that do for you?” “What resource do we have?”
5) Is there anything you’d like to share with other HOPEsters around the world?
Strategic partnerships are important. When you decide to start your cause there may be a period were you may feel like you’re not making an impact due to your size of our organization. That’s when finding the right partner will be helpful for your growth and to keep the momentum going.
That’s one of the reasons I created Tollo. So many great causes have been started in communities and they become limited on how far they can reach due to their size or financial constraints. Tollo was designed to address those issues by getting the word out to not only a bigger audience but the right audience.
It’s completely free to enroll a Non-Profit organization and the use.
Our mission is “Improving the community one app at a time”
Learn more by going to the website http://www.tollosystem.com