Thanks to a $29,000 grant from the Helene and Bertram Bernhardt Foundation, JCS will be able to begin implementing the first phase of a costly, multi-phased process to upgrade and streamline its computer IT and network services.
The outward-facing elements of the May 2018 merger of Jewish Family Service and Jewish Seniors Agency into Jewish Collaborative Services (JCS) have been completed – the creation of a new board, renovating and moving into the agency’s new headquarters at 1165 North Main Street in Providence, and nurturing a unified, collaborative team of employees. But more work remains to be done behind the scenes, including streamlining, upgrading, and integrating the computer hardware and software systems for Shalom Apartments, Tamarisk Assisted Living Residence, and JCS headquarters.
“The three sites are all on separate networks and have different email systems,” said Chief Financial Officer Renee St. John. “We retained Computer Specialists, Inc., [a firm with offices in Lincoln, RI and Hauppage, New York] to review and evaluate all of our systems and then recommend what is needed to improve our systems, get us on one server and harden our security.”
The multi-phased process, which will take a couple of years to complete, is budgeted to cost $150,000. The $10,000 fee for consulting services for the network and IT assessment recommendations were paid for separately, and the Bernhardt Foundation’s $29,000 grant will enable the creation of one network covering all three locations – JCS headquarters, Tamarisk, and Shalom.
With the first project out for bid, JCS expects to choose a vendor soon and get the project started sometime in July.
“We are so grateful to the Helene and Bertram Bernhardt Foundation for its ongoing support to JCS,” said St. John. “Over the past year, hackers have disrupted major computer systems across the country, so the need for security is greater than ever. The Foundation’s generosity enables JCS to begin this critically important project which, once fully implemented, will make JCS’ operations and systems more efficient, secure and streamlined.”
Once the upgrades are completed, employees who work at JCS but live near Tamarisk – as does St. John – will be able to use any computer at Tamarisk or work from home and accomplish tasks as easily as if they were in their office on North Main Street. JCS and Shalom staff emails end in “jfsri.org,” and those of Tamarisk staff end in “tamariskri.org,” This upgrade will allow us to be more consistent, changing them to all to emails ending in “JCSRI.org”.
Unlike the beautiful gardens, new building headquarters, and the streamlined programs JCS offers to the community – which visitors and clients of JCS can see firsthand – most of these improvements will be invisible to clients, visitors, and even many staff members. Nevertheless, just as the new building’s structures must be strong, secure, and regularly maintained to ensure the building’s longevity, the agency’s computer systems and processes must be strong, secure, and regularly maintained. To that end, Chief Development Officer Sara Ades Goodwin said, “This is a big project. We look forward to being able to secure the remaining funds needed for the entirety of this project and to see it through to completion.”
For funding opportunities, Goodwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.