October 2012 Hero

FC2S Staff | October 1st, 2012

Our October 2012 Foster Care Hero is Jon Larsen of Richweb, Inc.

Many things make Foster Care to Success an extraordinary organization: first and foremost, of course, our students and graduates, as well as our volunteers, our sponsors, and our staff. But we also have a hidden treasure, an individual the impact of whose back-end work on behalf of our students is immeasurable. Jon Larsen, the father of four children between the ages of six and 14, has never been in foster care and is not a foster parent, social worker or educator. So what could possibly compel our Executive Director, Eileen McCaffrey, to say about him, “It’s an understatement to say that he is our partner in this work. Jon brought vision to the design and structure of the very sophisticated database system he built for us. This was years ago, before most programs were talking about outcomes and metrics. Jon has always guided us to look ahead and imagine how good information can be used to change lives.”

Larsen is the co-founder of a Richmond, Virginia based IT company called Richweb which has designed and managed most of the data-collection and IT systems that Foster Care to Success uses. In the 10 years since Larsen was introduced to the nonprofit — then known as the Orphan Foundation of America — he has grown to see it as much more than a client. “I used to go to their summer picnics and I was so impressed by how mature the young people were,” he recalls. “On the systems side, we deal with collecting data that is used to identify the problems kids have. It’s good to know we’re helping students who had difficult lives start to succeed.” Of the organization, he says, “The mission made sense to me immediately; it wasn’t fuzzy at all. And I realized how mobile former foster youth are and hard to keep track of. I was happy to be working for such a good cause.”

Today FC2S is his biggest client and one of his programmers is dedicated to working fulltime on the account. But it’s clear that this goes well beyond business: “We’ve had 10 years of working together, which is a really long time in IT years,” laughs Larsen. It is likely that the relationship has endured because Larsen and Richweb have taken the time to develop solutions for IT challenges such as mentor matching and rigorous record-keeping for the ETV (Education Training Voucher) program. And, of course, because Larsen – who coaches his sons’ baseball teams – has found that sweet spot where technology and a nonprofit’s mission meet. “Jon has not only designed our amazing data collection system, but he’s contributed his true head and heart to our program development,” says Eileen McCaffrey. “It’s because of Jon and his team that we’re able to track and support 5,000 students a year.”




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