5 Things to Know about 211 - United Ways of California

5 Things to Know about 211

Monday, February 12, 2024

Read time: 3 minutes

February 11 (2/11) is National 211 Day, a celebration of 211 call center teams and their tireless work connecting their communities to services and resources. 

At United Ways of California, 211 is so integral to our work, our network’s impact, and the communities we serve that we decided to continue the celebration beyond just the day – we’re celebrating 211 Week! Later this month, Senator Josh Newman of Orange County will also be introducing a resolution to declare February 11 as 211 Day and the month of February as 211 Month in California. So, we thought we’d take the opportunity to share some information about 211.

You may know of 211 as a call center for people in crisis. Did you know it can provide a wealth of resources beyond just major, pressing needs?

211 provides vetted information and curates databases of 1.5 million programs across the nation to support community members through crises as well as in finding support resources of all kinds – from housing to child care to health care to free tax prep to computer classes.

Here are five things you might be surprised to learn about 211.

1. Whenever and however you need it, 211 is there. 

211 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In addition to being accessible by phone and online search, many 211 centers have other contact options such as text, email, and web chat. 211 is available to anyone, and many resources they provide do not have income eligibility requirements.

2. 211 connects people to the resources they ask for – and beyond. 

No matter the situation, 211 specialists listen, identify underlying problems, and connect people in need with resources and services in their community that improve their lives. 211 specialists are trained to identify and address root causes of a client’s problem – and connect them with a wide range of available resources that meet all the underlying needs, not just the one that prompted the call, text, or email.

3. 211 is a lifeline in times of disaster. 

During disasters affecting large numbers of people — such as recent wildfires and flooding across the state — 211 can relieve pressure on 911 and emergency response teams by providing an easy-to-remember phone number for non-rescue needs. It can also help get people the information and resources they need fast. When a disaster of any size strikes an individual or family, 211 can support them by providing resources that address both immediate and long-term needs.

4. 211 is more than just a call center or resource hub. 

Many 211 providers have additional initiatives to meet community needs. For example, at the Inland SoCal United Way, the 211 Careers program provides employment services, customized job coaching, work readiness skills, resume writing help, interview techniques workshops, referrals for training and support services, and job placement assistance.

5. 211 provides real-time insight into what our communities need and the biggest challenges people are facing. 

The 211 network responds to approximately 50,000 requests every day across America and connects millions of individuals and families to critical social and human services each year. Knowing what people are requesting from 211 can help shed light on what is happening at a national, state, and even county level. There is no other network in the country that has a similar pulse on America’s needs.

211 exemplifies United Way’s fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community.

California United Ways operate 211 programs serving 25 counties and provide funding to most other 211 programs across the state. United Ways of California and our California United Way members are dedicated to advocating for policies to help ensure 211’s efficiency and effectiveness – such as strengthening the 211 infrastructure – to help support Californians in ensuring they have the opportunity to live their best life, get an education, and be healthy and financially stable.

Continue to celebrate 211 Week by texting 211DAY to 211-211 for a fun, interactive quiz! Community members who take the quiz will be entered to win 211 swag.

Want to get a look at how 211 works? Watch this video for a behind-the-scenes look:




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