United Way Be a Middle School Mentor volunteers.

Last year, The Forbes Funds created the UpPrize competition to find tech solutions that benefit nonprofits. Now one of the finalists, the East Pittsburgh-based software company Application Verification, has partnered with the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania to find a more efficient way to connect volunteers with vulnerable populations.

Application Verification and the United Way announced the launch of a one-year pilot program meant to streamline the background screening process for volunteers and enable agencies to better manage clearance records. United Way will use Application Verification’s cloud-based ProVerify system to quickly and efficiently check volunteers for the nonprofit’s Free Tax Prep and Be a Middle School Mentor programs.

The pilot is part of United Way’s Good Neighbor Center for Volunteering Criminal Clearance Automation Project, which supports and enhances volunteerism in the community.

Application Verification originally received funding to further develop ProVerify with input from United Way. The product allows volunteers to fill out background check forms online using a designated link. Once clearances come through, the data is saved securely in the cloud. The system gives nonprofits quick, easy access to clearance information and provides notifications when a volunteer needs to re-certify.

In a statement, Forbes Funds president and UpPrize host Kate Dewey said the partnership “shows the extraordinary value of entrepreneurs and nonprofits working together to solve real problems facing our community.”

Kate Dewey (left) at the 2015 UpPrize networking event.

Lois Mufuka Martin, chief volunteer engagement officer at United Way, says it was Dewey who introduced her organization to Application Verification.

“The Forbes Funds is a great people-connector in terms of knowing who will see a project through,” she says.

The first phase of the pilot will clear about 1,000 volunteers with United Way’s Free Tax Prep program, which offers tax preparation to low-income populations at no cost. The second phase will unfold from January through December 2017 and focuses on using ProVerify to approve volunteers for Be a Middle School Mentor, a program that serves approximately 16 area schools.

That ProVerify was originally designed for child protective criminal background clearances is especially important for Pennsylvania, a state where Mufuka Martin says child protective laws have become stronger.

So far, Mufuka Martin says Application Verification has been responsive in helping the United Way address the needs of the people they serve.

“They understand our way of working, which is to be collaborative, to be a convener, and to always think about our agencies and the programs and the vulnerable populations,” says Mufuka Martin. “We’re always thinking about those three things to make sure we are accommodating everybody.”

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.