The Full Circle Effect: Idea Jamathon Edition

One year ago this weekend, our Rising Leaders hosted the Inaugural Idea Jamathon to engage the broader community and organizations outside of our 2013 Grant Portfolio in an interactive and exciting day of collaboration. The Rising Leaders developed this avenue to lend their time, talent and skills to impact meaningful initiatives with timely challenges, inspire the community to get involved, and create lasting change.

The Jamathon model has been such a success that we've decided to make this a recurring event! This year, our Rising Leaders will be hosting our 2nd Annual Idea Jamathon on Saturday, June 28th at in SF. We're currently opening applications up for local organizations to apply by the 6/9 deadline, and are inviting guests to attend to participate!

Date: Sat., 6/28 | 2 - 6p

Location:, 383 Rhode Island St, Ste. 300 in SF

We also recently caught up with Julia Wilson, Executive Director of last year's Idea Jamathon winner, OneJustice. Here, she shares her experience, learnings, and the impact the event has had one OneJustice one year later. Not only did OneJustice take away key learnings, but they've implemented several ideas from just one day of engagement! Talk about a short engagement with lasting impact.

Thank you, OneJustice, for providing insight into your experience -- we're glad it was a positive one!

FCF: How did you learn about the Idea Jamathon, and why did OneJustice decide to apply?OneJustice: OneJustice heard about the Idea Jamathon through the Full Circle Fund newsletter (which we strongly encourage nonprofits to sign up for!). And we know immediately that we wanted to apply for help thinking both analytically and deeply about how the use of technology might be used to support our goal of stretching urban pro bono (volunteer) resources to serve rural Califonrians facing pressing legal problems.

FCF: What did you know about our work prior to the Idea Jamathon, and what were your expectations going into the Jamathon once you were selected to participate by the Rising Leaders? What did you hope to gain?

OneJustice: We actually didn’t know that much about Full Circle Fund going into the Idea Jamathon. We were excited about the sense we had that Full Circle Fund is able to marshall both the intellectual and financial capital of a large group of committed and thoughtful people. We hoped that this group would also be excited about helping us thinking 360 degrees about the lack of legal help in rural parts of California and how to significantly move the needle on the issue of rural justice.

FCF: What was the “challenge” or question you posed to the group? Why was it relevant to the work OneJustice was doing at the time?

OneJustice: OneJustice’s mission is to bring life-changing legal assistance to Californias in need. Because we work on statewide basis, we are acutely aware of the lack of legal assistance for folks living in isolated communities. Because the vast majority of both attorneys and law students are based in urban areas, there simply aren’t sufficient resources in rural areas to serve those in need. So for the past 5 years, OneJustice’s “Justice Bus Project” has been literally bringing teams of attorney and law student volunteers to set up mobile legal clinics in isolated communities. While the Justice Bus is making a difference for those in need, it’s time and resource intensive and it’s been difficult to scale to the level needed to reach thousands instead of hundreds of rural residents. We had hoped that the use of technology could bolster the impact of the Justice Bus Project - but we were at a loss about how to even dig in.

FCF: Can you describe what the brainstorming session was like and what your team learned?

OneJustice: The brainstorming session with our Rising Leaders and Full Circle Fund team was simply breathtaking. We started by covering the entire white board with a process map of every step that takes place in an in-person Justice Bus Clinic - from beginning to end. Then the group examined every step and identified where and how various online technology tools could positively disrupt the in-person structure. By the end, we had designed a detailed plan for a completely virtual Rural Justice Clinic, and we had articulated a concrete list of next steps needed to actually implement the idea. I have to say, we were totally blown away by this result. We had assumed that we’d just spend the day brainstorming with our team and that we’d walk away with some general feedback and advice about things to consider. We never imagined that it would be possible to generate the entire project design and implementation plan in just one day. That result was an incredible gift to OneJustice.

FCF: What was the outcome of the session and event?

OneJustice: We were so fortunate, because our team’s project design and plan for a Virtual Rural Justice Clinic won the Jamathon - and so we received $5,000 in seed funding to launch the project. Our Board of Directors was so impressed by the Rising Leaders and Full Circle Fund’s work and approach that they matched the $5,000, to provide a total $10,000 in seed funding for implementation.

FCF: A year later, how has the Jamathon played a role in OneJustice’s work?

OneJustice: I am so pleased to report that with the Jamathon’s project design and implementation plan - plus the seed funding - we were immediately able to start working on making the Virtual Rural Justice Clinic a reality. And in April of this year, we conducted the inaugural fully virtual clinic, where we connected 15 immigrant youth in Humboldt County with volunteers at a computer lab at University of San Francisco School of Law. The pilot clinic was extremely successful, and we now are testing adding virtual services components to all of our projects within our Rural Justice Initiative, including the Justice Bus Project. We think this development - thanks to the Rising Leaders and Full Circle Fund - has the potential to significantly change the state’s legal services delivery system and ensure that geographic barriers no longer limit access to justice.

FCF: What words of wisdom would you lend to nonprofits who want to apply, but don’t know what to expect?

OneJustice: I think the most important thing to know is that nonprofits really don’t need to know the answers when you are applying for the Jamathon. This is not a “hide the ball” situation, where the nonprofits actually need to be able to answer the questions already on their own. The most wonderfully refreshing thing about Full Circle Fund is that they authentically want to help frame, understand, and jointly brainstorm answers to the most pressing questions facing nonprofits. You can trust Full Circle Fund with your messiest, thorniest, most complicated questions - and they will help you analyze the issues and find a terrific path forward!

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