Community Voice Mail Foundation: Community Technology Institute

Tom Boland (
Thu, 18 Mar 1999 19:17:14 -0800 (PST)

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FWD  Last updated: 11 March 1999


     Chicago Community Voice Mail Launched

     by Kevin Taglang

On March 10, the Chicago Community Voice Mail (CMV) system was
launched by The Employment Project, the Mayor's Office of Workforce
Development and the Community Technology Institute at a press
conference on the city's west side. With support from the Chicago
Community Trust, CMV will offer 500 (and eventually 2,400) people will
personal voice mail numbers retrievable toll free from any touchtone
phone, 24 hours a day.

Shannon Stewart, executive director of The Employment Project (TEP),
kicked off the event. Since 1993, TEP has been helping homeless men and
women gain stability through a dynamic combination of job opportunities
and social services such as pre-employment training, personal and career
counseling, referrals for education and job training, job search support,
and volunteer mentors. 57% of the people who graduate from TEP's
4-week training program find employment. CMV is another tool to help
transition people out of homelessness by providing a basic necessity of
almost every job searcher -- a phone number.

Commissioner Jackie Edens of the Mayor's Office of Workforce
Development highlighted the importance of CVM. Shelters and services
for the homeless only go so far, Ms. Edens said, the ultimate solution is
employment. At a time that many people are transitioning from welfare to
work, CVM will be indispensable to make sure people do not fall through
the cracks.

Chicago CVM is part of a national network, the CVM Federation, headed
by the Community Technology Institute (CTI). The pilot program began in
Seattle in 1991 and was recognized through a Harvard Ford-Foundation
Innovations in Government Award in 1993. The award provided
$100,000 to form CTI and to replicate the CVM model. The Chicago
launch marked the 27th community to install a CVM system (see list

Some 6% of households in the US are phoneless and another 2 million
people spent some portion of 1998 homeless. CVM offers these people th
next best thing to dial tone. The system can eliminate phonelessness as a
barrier to employment and social services; it also reduces the time that the
hardest-to-serve clients spend in social service systems. Nationally,
10,000 of these people are connected through CVM everyday. More than
1,000 human and social service agencies participate in a local CVM

During the event, CTI Project Manager David Averill demonstrated the
ease of the system by enrolling the first Chicago CVM user. The 36
year-old mother of three was connected in less than five minutes. She will
use the system to find employment as a machinist having just completing a
job readiness program and currently participating in an intern program at
the Chicago Manufacturing Institute.

CVM is a community-owned and operated system. The Employment
Project is collaborating with 18 Chicago agencies. The system is flexible
for users, providing connections to possible employers as well as health
services and helping parents to connect with teachers.

For more information on Chicago CVM, contact Shannon Stewart at The
Employment Project at 312-913-2048 (1255 S Wabash).

For more information on the CVM Federation (, contact
the Community Technology Institute at 206-441-7872 (PO Box 61385
Seattle, WA 98121). CVM is supported, in part, by Active Voice
Corporation of Seattle.

                    CVM Federation (Operating)

                           Bellingham, WA
                           Seattle, WA
                           Spokane, WA
                           Yakima, WA
                           Vancouver, WA
                           Portland, OR
                           Salem, OR
                           Eugene, OR
                           San Francisco, CA
                           San Jose, CA
                           Los Angeles, CA
                           San Diego, CA
                           Phoenix, AZ
                           Minn-St Paul, MN
                           Houston, TX
                           Memphis, TN
                           Chattanooga, TN
                           New Orleans, LA
                           Detroit, MI
                           Atlanta, GA
                           St Petersburg, FL
                           Albany, NY
                           Boston, MA
                           New York, NY
                           Hampton Roads, VA
                           Raleigh, NC

                    CVM Federation (On the Launch Pad)

                           Chicago, IL
                           Cleveland, OH
                           Philadelphia, PA
                           Wilmington, DE

                    CVM Federation (Planning)

                           Toledo, OH
                           Baltimore, MD
                           Washington, DC
                           Miami, FL

Benton Foundation


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