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Community Voice Mail uses communications technology to connect people living in poverty and homelessness to information and resources they can use to help themselves.
Community Voice Mail (CVM) was born in 1991 from a seemingly simple idea that had an unpredictably potent impact.
A boilermaker entered the Seattle Worker Center looking for a job. There were no leads that day, but he was personable, qualified and friendly.
Two weeks later, the Center got a call from an employer: "I need a good boilermaker." Now they had a worker and a job. But there was a problem. Their boilermaker was qualified, but had no phone and could not be reached.
The big idea
A big idea was born. Give unemployed and phoneless people a telephone number that stays constant even if they can't. The theory: they'll find work much faster.
Our founders brought this idea to a Seattle-based voice mail company called Active Voice in 1992. The company responded by donating a voice mail system. Staff distributed voice mail numbers to 145 phoneless, unemployed, mostly homeless people. An astounding 70% found jobs within two months.
It turned out that these extraordinary results were repeatable. Each year, CVM measures outcomes for CVM users - consistently, 70% of CVM users measured achieve one or more of their goals within 6 months. It also turned out that this innovative tool had a range of applications that were yet to be explored and deployed.
Our national network
Since its initial spark, Community Voice Mail has grown into a national human and telecommunications network serving more than 41,000 people annually, plus an additional 11,000 dependents of CVM clients.
CVM services are provided through strategic alliances with 45 community-based social service host sites around the country under the umbrella of a central national office based in Seattle, WA.
Through these strategic alliances, CVM is distributed via more than 2000 agencies in more than 400 cities and towns.
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