Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions.  If you have a question not listed here, please contact us at info@singlestopusa.org.

What is Single Stop USA?

Single Stop USA is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping financially vulnerable families and students gain economic mobility by connecting them to existing benefits and services intended for them.

How did it get started?

Single Stop was launched as a program by the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City, where its offices were set up starting in 2001 within existing, trusted community-based organizations. By 2006, it had grown into a large and successful antipoverty effort that served over 70,000 households. Then, with support from Atlantic Philanthropies, it was rolled out nationally in 2007.  Today, Single Stop operates in seven states – New York,  California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Florida, Louisiana, and Massachusetts.

How does the Single Stop program work?

When a person or a family visits a Single Stop office, they meet with a trained, experienced counselor. Using a Web-based software program called Benefits Enrollment Network (BEN, for short), a counselor can, in as little as 15 minutes, outline the benefits for which the family is eligible. We own BEN and have customized it to provide exactly the information we need. These benefits include food stamps, health insurance, child-care subsidies, tax credits, energy assistance, public assistance, and housing assistance. Counselors then guide people through the application processes. For those who have legal, financial or credit issues, and/or who need their tax returns done, the counselor arranges an appointment for them to see one of our trained specialists. If someone urgently needs assistance for food or transportation, our staffers know how to speed up the process; sometimes a participant can wind up with a Metrocard and food stamps within just a few days.

What is its mission?

Single Stop USA is dedicated to helping low-income individuals and families in America achieve financial stability. To this end, we offer an innovative model that combines two essential components: customizable technology that simplifies screening for, and access to, a wide range of government resources and cost-free legal, financial and tax preparation expertise – all in one location in each of the communities we serve.

How large is the Single Stop staff?

At our national headquarters in New York’s East Harlem, we have a staff of about 35 people. A much smaller staff works out of our satellite office in San Francisco. At each site, Single Stop helps pay and support a staff of at least one, these staffers are employed and supervised by the community based organization or community colleges.  This fosters the best integration of Single Stop into the organization.

Is Single Stop connected to local and state government agencies?

We have good working relationships with key personnel at the local and national level but we are an independent not-for-profit organization. We do receive funding from established government programs such as the White House Social Innovation Fund.

How can an organization or community college become a Single Stop site?

To begin the process, an administrator can send an email to info@singlestopusa.org, and one of our staff members will contact you.

What will Single Stop look like in 5 years?

CEO Elisabeth Mason likes to say that her dream is for Single Stop to put itself out of business. We are piloting a model that ideally could be institutionalized in community colleges and other sites by the government. Realistically, in five years we hope to  ultimately take on a role that is more supportive, providing technical assistance and training to organizations that provide these services.

How many families does Single Stop serve annually?

In 2013 alone, Single Stop USA served over 177,000 households, connecting them with over $526 million in benefits and services.  For more details on the families see our results.

What are the most important benefits it connects people with?

SNAP/food stamps, publicly funded health insurance (Medicaid and SCHIP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), emergency cash assistance, federal housing subsidies and rent supports, child care assistance, help paying electric and gas bills, help paying phone bills, Head Start (for children), transportation cost assistance, and the earned income tax credit.  Learn more here.

What specific services does it provide beyond benefits screenings?

Free financial counseling, free legal advice on issues such as eviction and immigration, and free tax return preparation.  Learn more here.

How can I become a Single Stop client?

Visit the closest Single Stop office in your neighborhood, or, if you are a community college student, see the Single Stop administrators at your school.  Find a Single Stop near you.

Why the name “Single Stop”?

The idea behind the program was to create a facility where a person could get all the help s/he needed to combat poverty in a single centralized location, rather than be required to visit separate federal, state or municipal sites set up to aid those in need. Today, with the help of Single Stop’s proprietary BEN software, an experienced case worker can begin the process of determining a person’s eligibility for help in as little as 15 minutes. A client may need to return more than once to consult benefits, financial or legal experts, but the entire suite of services is available in a single location -hence the name Single Stop.

Who does Single Stop help?

Single Stop helps low-income individuals and families at trusted neighborhood community organizations, food pantries, hospitals and New York’s Rikers Island jail. We also help community college students by using various grants, including the pioneering White House Social Innovation Fund, to open offices at leading public community colleges. Learn more about our community based organization and community college work.

Why have you chosen community college students?

Community college students are among those hardest hit by the economic downturn in recent years but are also a group with great potential for economic mobility. Also, as little as $300 can be the boost a student needs to stay in school and get a degree or certificate. Finally, a single office in a single college is an efficient, scalable method for serving thousands of low-income strivers who represent one of the best hopes for climbing the ladder to the middle class in a single generation.

What states are Single Stop offices located in?

New York, New Jersey, California, New Mexico, Florida, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Louisiana.  Find a location near you.

Why did you choose those states?

Single Stop began under the auspices of Robin Hood in New York City. Central to our choice of other states is the availability of specific grants and interested foundations as well as strong potential community partners. For community colleges, Single Stop has formed a partnership with the Association of Community College Trustees to identify sites with the greatest potential for impact.

Where does the funding come from?

Single Stop USA is supported mainly by large grants from foundations, charitable organizations such as Robin Hood, and federal grants. We also have obtained smaller grants from regional and family foundations and corporations, as well as individuals.  See our full list of supporters.

How can I connect with BEN Support?

If you are Benefits Enrollment Network (BEN) user and need to reach BEN User Support please contact:
Hotline: 877-410-6590 
Email: bensupport@singlestopusa.org