Companions Journeying Together: Cloudreach Cares Digital Philanthropy Project

The Background - Cloudreach Cares Digital Philanthropy:

Cloudreach Cares recently launched our Digital Philanthropy initiative. The goal of this program is to provide worthy charitable causes access to our knowledgeable Cloudreach resources at discounted or pro bono rates. This will allow organizations (who may not have the funds) to realize the benefits of cloud technologies and modernize their efforts to achieve their mission.

Jeff Armstrong, one of our lead Cloud Strategists, and I brought this plan to the AWS Non-Profit Team and received positive feedback (read Jeff’s original post here). The next step was to find the right client. In our search we asked AWS to find us causes that would adhere to our values as a business. We were then introduced to Companions Journeying Together.

The Who - Companions Journeying Together:

Companions Journeying Together (CJT) is a Chicago-based organization focused on impacting the emotional, spiritual, and social lives of the incarcerated and their families. They believe a great way to reach this goal is by focusing on communication between inmates and their loved ones.

One of their programs is called Aunt Mary’s Storybook. The CJT staff and trained volunteers bring a selection of books along with audio recorders into various jails and prisons. Each of the participants are then given an opportunity to record him or herself reading the books, along with a personal message they can record for their children. On behalf of the parent, they then send the book and recording to their family at home.

The Problem:

As Aunt Mary’s Storybook gained popularity, it has run into difficulties with scale. The program started using tape recorders and has modernized over the years with the use of CDs and most recently a legacy hosting solution. CJT leadership was looking for ways to expand the program nationally to more correction centers and realized a move to the AWS platform was the best solution for agility and geographic scale.

Additionally, CJT want to utilize an AWS database to collect the information on who is using their program and where books are being shipped. This would help them track successes and continue to improve their efforts. Furthermore, they wish to use the database platform as an earned-income model to offer other charities doing similar work.

With a tight budget and limited availability from staff, a project such as this proved impossible to complete on their own.

The Solution:

With approval from Cloudreach leadership, we deployed a team of 3 individuals: Darpan Shah - Cloud Systems Developer (CSD), Koh Schooley - Cloud Systems Developer (CSD) and Bruno Prentice - Cloud Engagement Manager (CEM) for a total of 10 days.

Our team established an AWS foundation for the CJT organization and setup IAM roles and policies, as well as cost control features.

Our cloud systems developers deconstructed the customer’s application from an infrastructure perspective and split the app, web, and DB tiers into separate servers as part of the modernization effort. We provisioned this modernized infrastructure and shared services into their AWS environment, into which we could then migrate the Storybook application.

With the application now separated out into individual servers by function, CJT has a more robust solution to scale their infrastructure to meet the demand for new users and data. AWS also enabled the organization to retain its data securely for a greater period of time.

The cloud implementation of the application allowed for lower managed costs and enabled the organization to devote more resources for further development and optimization efforts. We were able to get this project completely up and running through the Cloudreach Cares Digital Philanthropy program and provides the service with zero cost to CJT.

Now CJT can focus on what they do best - promoting restorative justice in our communities.

Learn more about Companions Journeying Together and the important work they’re doing.

Read more about the charitable causes Cloudreach is proud to support.

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