Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $1,999,979)
The purpose of this award, funded under the OVC FY 2019 Advancing the Use of Technology to Assist Victims of Crime, is to support organizations that demonstrate innovative strategies to create, expand, or enhance the use of technology initiatives on a national scale or that can be replicated nationally to improve response, services, and access for victims of crime.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) will use this $1,999,979 award to serve thousands of sexual assault victims currently unable to access help by expanding the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline (NSAOH) staffing and volunteer hours, and creating a new core technology for the NSAOH: a chatbot, powered by human training and machine learning, that will provide immediate answers to visitors' queries. RAINN will also create a new hotline queueing and notification feature, available through SMS texting. With this funding, RAINN will provide nearly 30,000 new staffing hours and 7,500 volunteer hours
annually, delivering crisis assistance and referral services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to NSAOH visitors. Finally, RAINN will reduce the burden on visitors waiting to chat with staff by creating an SMS-based queueing and notification feature to the NSAOH. This system will give users the flexibility to be notified via a text message when their private chat is ready to begin. RAINN will ensure the goals set in this proposal will be met in order to serve more survivors, provide them with appropriate and innovative services, and broaden their reach to include thousands of additional users who have not yet received the support they need and deserve.