Rey, the founder of an innovative online platform for profiling non-profit and social services, wants to get the social service sector out of the Internet dark ages. An entrepreneur and advocate for educational equity and economic security for all families, Rey launched One Degree with the mission of ensuring that all families have access to services they need to overcome poverty. Premised on the idea that those who reside in a community and have the greatest need for social services are in the best position to be the experts on services provided to their communities, One Degree’s web platform aggregates and organizes information about non-profit and social services so that anyone can overcome bureaucratic impediments and easily search for life-saving services.
Rey believes that the social sector needs to evolve and explains: “We have a good problem on our hands. In some cities across the country, we have an overwhelming abundance of services for low-income families. But why can’t everyone be the expert of these community resources? Navigating the social safety net is notoriously difficult even for professionals like social workers, counselors and case managers. How can we expect people to do this on their own when the current system isn’t even easy or accessible for the professionals? We launched One Degree to shift this paradigm.”
Among One Degree’s many accomplishments, Rey is particularly proud of one. He tells the story of a grandmother caring for her small grandchildren because her daughter struggled with addiction. After losing custody of her grandchildren to Child Protective Services and finding out she was diagnosed with cancer (treatment for which she was unable to afford), her life was veritably in pieces. She didn’t know where to turn to start finding help. By using One Degree, Rey explains, this grandmother she was able to connect to an affordable health plan and to counsel to begin the process of reuniting her family.
Growing up as an undocumented immigrant who was nearly deported in his teens because of a mistake made by ICE, Rey was inspired to help others like him, and he has worked to promote educational equity and college access for over a decade.
One Degree is the culmination of Rey’s own experiences and frustrations that families too often don’t have access to the services they need to overcome poverty. Rey has rejected sponsorship and funding offers to the tech-savvy One Degree project that have not comported with his poverty-fighting agenda. Rey aims to give families real-time, real-world tools they need to hold service providers accountable to meeting human needs by building the equivalent of a “Yelp” for non-profits. In doing so, he also hopes to elevate the effective but under-funded work of non-profits led by women, people of color and immigrants.