Transforming the American Safety Net. Together.

Benefits Data Trust 2023 Impact Report

Too many people in this country go without — not for a lack of resources, but a lack of access to them.

More than $80 billion in available public assistance goes untapped every year. Money that could put food on the table. Provide healthcare. Make college more affordable. Benefits Data Trust (BDT) works with public servants, communities, and institutions across the country to close this gap — and ensure a brighter, more equitable future for all.

Benefits access is a solvable problem. And we can solve it, together.

Americans spend 9B+ hours a year completing paperwork just to receive government services.

A woman focus on paperwork.

That’s over 26 hours per person, per year.

Our 10-Year Moonshot

America deserves a better, more effective benefits system. That’s why we’re embarking on a 10-year moonshot to ensure that by 2033, everyone can quickly and easily receive the benefits they’re eligible for, when they need them.

Defining Mission Success...

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    Everyone who qualifies can apply for benefitsin 20 minutes or less...

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    Enroll in all qualifying benefits they wantin 24 hours or less...

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    Continue receiving benefitsas long as they are eligible and want them...

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    Is treated withdignity and respect.

"

When we strip away unnecessary barriers to the public safety net, we reduce inefficiency and help more people in need. More eligible Americans receive healthcare. More people eat. These things are not part of a blue or red agenda; they are an integral part of America’s promise. We must take care of our safety net if we expect it to take care of us.

Headshot of Trooper Sanders, CEO

Trooper Sanders

CEO, Benefits Data Trust

In 2023, we laid the foundation to achieve this goal.

By the Numbers

Our 2023 Impact

2023 was a pivotal year for the American safety net. BDT was there, connecting people to assistance now and strengthening the safety net for tomorrow.

Helping people today$182 Million+in assistance secured through our outreach efforts and Benefits Centers, helping nearly 120,000 people meet urgent needs

Modernizing systems for tomorrow$13 Billion+in available benefits made more accessible, helping as many as 3.5M people

For every dollar received in 2023, BDT helped unlock $450 in public assistance.

Program Highlights

Meeting the Moment

Day in and day out, public servants work hard to connect people to assistance programs. This year, they faced additional challenges, as the need for these programs increased. BDT and our partners met these challenges with timely, innovative solutions.

Medicaid Unwinding

A pandemic-era provision that kept millions of families automatically enrolled in Medicaid without requiring annual renewal paperwork ended in 2023. At least 15 million people lost coverage as a result, according to KFF (formerly Kaiser Family Foundation) — most for procedural reasons like an outdated mailing address, not because they were ineligible.

Our Medicaid Churn Learning Collaborative brought together leaders from six states to share strategies to reduce instances of people losing Medicaid for reasons other than ineligibility. The learnings from this collaborative were shared in our newly updated Medicaid Churn Toolkit.

A baby at the doctors office.
  • North Dakota

    Helped the Department of Human Services eliminate unnecessary hoops for applicants to jump through when self-attested and verified income do not match, but both are below the eligibility threshold.

  • Rhode Island

    Worked with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to streamline automatic renewals for people with disabilities and older adults.

  • Washington

    Supported the Washington State Health Care Authority’s efforts to implement text outreach to Medicaid participants who don’t return their annual renewals on time.

  • Nearly 2.4M people impacted

Read More
A baby at the doctors office.

FAFSA Crunch

For many young people, especially those from low-income backgrounds or first-generation college applicants, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the gateway to financial aid for college. Last year brought the most significant update in decades to streamline the application form, but this update pushed back the release of the form by nearly three months, leaving students with less time to apply and new terms and processes to understand.

Enter Wyatt, our AI-powered digital FAFSA advisor, fully updated in 2023 to provide instant answers to students’ questions — 24/7, right on their phones.

Read More from USA Today
Wyatt uses generative AI to help student complete the fafsa.
Smiling cartoon avatar of Wyatt: a blue square-shaped character with big eyes.
$40M in federal grant aid unlocked for students using Wyatt

Where We Work

Ensuring Eligible Households Get the Help They Need

In 2023, BDT worked in 14 states, offering direct support to those applying for public assistance, working with government leaders to make benefits access more efficient and equitable, and helping colleges, healthcare organizations, and other nonprofits connect communities disproportionately impacted by poverty to the assistance they need.

Click on a state to see highlights of BDT's work in that state.

Worked with the California Department of Health Care Services to protect health coverage for eligible families during the Medicaid unwinding.

Read more

Piloted a SNAP recertification text message campaign that contributed to the Colorado Department of Human Services’ decision to conduct statewide text outreach.

Colorado Benefits Center

  • 6,882 individuals applied for SNAP
  • $2,077 in benefits secured per household enrolled (avg)

Teamed up with the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance to provide FAFSA support to the state’s 30,000+ graduating high school seniors.

Collaborated with a coalition of community organizations, led by Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, to assist patients of the University of Maryland Medical System in applying for benefits.

Maryland Benefits Center

  • 12 benefits supported
  • 16,881 individuals applied
  • $3,849 in benefits secured per household enrolled (avg)

In partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, launched text outreach to young adults aging out of the foster care system, connecting them to food assistance.

Michigan Benefits Center

  • 7,959 individuals applied for SNAP
  • $1,905 in benefits secured per household enrolled (avg)

Supported efforts by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to match data across SNAP, WIC, and Medicaid to identify families enrolled in one benefit and likely eligible for others.

Read more

North Carolina Benefits Center

  • 13,024 individuals applied for SNAP
  • $1,990 in benefits secured per household enrolled (avg)

Worked with the North Dakota Department of Human Services to protect health coverage for eligible families during the Medicaid unwinding.

Read more

Supported the Trenton Health Team's grassroots campaign to keep eligible New Jersey residents covered after the Medicaid unwinding.

Launched a partnership with SUNY (State University of New York) to identify community college students impacted by food insecurity and help them apply for benefits like SNAP.

New York City Benefits Center

  • 14 benefits supported
  • 12,909 individuals applied
  • $5,550 in benefits secured per household enrolled (avg)

Worked with the School District of Philadelphia to deliver emails and text messages notifying families of benefit programs they might be eligible for.

Pennsylvania Benefits Center

  • 23 benefits supported
  • 79,164 individuals applied
  • $5,356 in benefits secured per household enrolled (avg)

Helped the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services streamline the Medicaid renewal process for older adults and those with disabilities.

Read more

Worked with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to send renewal texts to Medicaid enrollees.

South Carolina Benefits Center

  • 1,252 individuals ages 60+ applied for SNAP
  • $2,241 in benefits secured per household enrolled (avg)

Launched a partnership with the City of Dallas to build a comprehensive benefits access system so seniors, children, and other residents can connect to public assistance more easily.

Read more

Supported the Washington State Health & Human Services Coalition’s analysis of several benefits programs, which identified 155 redundant questions and will help them streamline their application processes.

Read more

Highlights

Click for more details about Texas

Direct Assistance

Serving Families in Need

To enroll in just one public assistance program, you’ll have to sift through dozens of questions, submit multiple documents proving your identity, and possibly miss work to travel to the nearest government office. If you need other forms of assistance, you’ll likely have to repeat these steps all over again.

Getting help is hard... but it doesn’t have to be.

Every day, our caring, trained outreach specialists field hundreds of calls from those trying to navigate the public benefits system. We take time to understand each person’s situation, screen them for eligibility — often for multiple benefits at once — and, if eligible, apply on their behalf.

A woman with a disability speaks over the phone.

Our Benefits Centers in 2023

  • 3.5M text messages

    and nearly 1.2M pieces of mail delivered to those likely eligible for assistance

  • 112,202 households

    screened by our outreach specialists

  • 148,834 applications

    submitted on behalf of families and individuals

  • $3,893

    average benefits secured per household

Two image bubbles connected by a dotted line: a woman holding her baby speaks on the phone and a BDT Benefits Outreach specialist works on a computer wearing a headset.
A woman holding her baby speaks on the phone.
Bee Line Connects Caller to Benefits Outreach Specialist
A BDT Benefits Outreach specialist works on a computer wearing a headset.

Equipping Those on the Front Lines of Benefits Access

In 2023, BDT built and piloted a new digital platform to help our outreach specialists screen and apply callers more quickly, allowing them to focus even more of their tremendous training and empathy on the needs of individual callers.

This platform, built with input from our staff who use the technology every day, is known throughout BDT as TERRI, in tribute to our former colleague Terry Connolly. A member of our team for 10 years, Terry personally assisted over 10,000 people. He was known for his kindness, humility, and love of learning. Terry passed away in 2022, but through TERRI his legacy at BDT endures.

At the end of the day, I can look myself in the eye and know I have made someone’s life just a little bit better. And that, my friends, is a GREAT THING."

Terry Connolly

Terry raises his arms in celebration.
A single rider sits on a ski lift on a snowy day
Pink roses lay above a child's artwork
Close-up of a hiker's backback as they hike in the mountains.
Paint brushes collected in multiple jars
A dumbell lies on the floor of a gym
Pink roses lay above a child's artwork
A single rider sits on a ski lift on a snowy day

One Client’s Journey

Meet Patricia.

A 61-year-old artist, body builder, skier, hiker, and mom of three. When a work injury put her in a precarious financial situation, BDT was able to help her access the support she needed.

Swipe to read more

Paint brushes collected in multiple jars
Close-up of a hiker's backback as they hike in the mountains.
Close up of a doctor examining a patient's back.

2022

Patricia falls and fractures her back at work. At the hospital, her doctor discovers a thyroid condition leeching calcium from her bones, making her injuries even worse.

"I used to cry all day, every day. That’s how bad [the back pain] was."

Close up of someone holding a stack of overdue bills.

Despite a second fall, plus complications from long COVID, Patricia slowly rebuilds her strength. Due to her injuries, however, she’s unable to work — and her financial situation worsens.

"I was like a fish out of water. I didn’t know where to go or what to do."

A Benefits Outreach Specialist works on a computer.

2023

Using data shared by our partners in the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, BDT identifies Patricia as someone who might be eligible for help buying food, based on her enrollment in Medicaid. (Those who enroll in Medicaid often qualify for other assistance.)

Patricia gets a letter from BDT’s Michigan Benefits Center, informing her she may be eligible for SNAP benefits.

Patricia calls the Michigan Benefits Center, where an outreach specialist determines she likely qualifies for expedited assistance.

Many healthy groceries in a bag and on a kitchen counter.

The outreach specialist applies on Patricia’s behalf. About a week later, Patricia starts receiving $280 a month for groceries, the maximum amount available.

"I already used my benefits for this month — and let me tell you, I got food. I was able to plan out some meals... It’s just been a godsend."

2024 (and beyond)

Patricia is one of hundreds who call our Benefits Centers any given day. We do more than make sure they get the help they need in the moment. Their stories, challenges, and experiences navigating the safety net become the insights and data that shape our efforts to make public benefits work better for all of us.

Read More of Patricia's Story

Policy Change

Advancing Common-Sense Policies to Strengthen the Safety Net

BDT collaborates with federal, state, and city officials to effect systems-level change. From eliminating unnecessary barriers to undertaking comprehensive reform, BDT is a trusted partner among government agencies working to deliver a more equitable, efficient, and effective safety net.

Happy family smiling together

WA, NC Unveil Action Plans to Improve Benefits Access

BDT worked with North Carolina and Washington to develop comprehensive state action plans to increase participation and simplify access to public assistance. North Carolina’s plan includes several strategies to improve nutrition security, while Washington is working to streamline its enrollment process so people can apply for multiple benefits at once, in 20 minutes or less.

Read More
A mother and father shop with their child for groceries

Simplified Reporting Improves SNAP Access for 1M+ in MI

Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services worked with BDT to develop several policy changes, making it easier for more than 1 million eligible Michiganders to stay on SNAP. Previously, participants had to follow complicated rules to report even minor income changes within 10 days, or risk losing their benefits. With simplified reporting, most changes now only have to be reported every six months, reducing the burden on SNAP participants and state workers alike.

Read More

Closing the WIC Enrollment Gap

Facing rising food costs and higher-than-expected participation, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) risked a funding shortfall for the first time in fiscal year 2023. Yet efforts to modernize WIC progressed. BDT and its partners were awarded $10 million from USDA Food and Nutrition Service to streamline WIC enrollment through data matching.

As part of the MORE WIC! Initiative, led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and in collaboration with the National WIC Association, BDT will provide technical support to help state agencies close WIC enrollment gaps, so that infants, children, and pregnant and postpartum individuals get the nutritional support they need.

Read More
The MORE WIC! Initiative was made possible by USDA Food & Nutrition Service, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the National WIC association and Benefits Data Trust.
A man presents data in a conference room

BDT Writes the Playbook on Data Sharing

Data sharing across benefit programs is one of the most effective tools for closing the $80B benefits access gap. That’s because individuals enrolled in one benefit, like Medicaid, are likely eligible for others, such as SNAP. Yet out of 46 states who responded to our survey, fewer than half share data across Medicaid and SNAP to conduct outreach to likely eligible individuals. Based on interviews with dozens of government officials and other experts, BDT developed a playbook to help governments and other organizations conduct effective, responsible data sharing, so more people can access public assistance.

Read More

Artificial Intelligence

Building a Smarter Benefits System

Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform benefits access.

Imagine a world where we can...

  • Proactively identify those who need assistance

  • Anticipate the types of help that will improve economic mobility and health outcomes

  • Automatically enroll those eligible to receive benefits

This system is within reach. But the perils of AI are as real as its promise, which is why a human-centered approach is paramount. In addition to launching Wyatt, an AI-powered digital advisor helping students apply for college financial aid, BDT is helping shape the responsible use of AI in the human services space.

A baby smiling and eating fruit
A doctor in a waiting room speaks with her patient
Two coworkers in an office stand together looking at a tablet

A Collaborative Hub for Responsible AI

Our Trustworthy AI and Human Services Learning Hub will provide a sandbox for collaboration among government, the private sector, academia, labor, civil society, front-line agency workers, and benefits recipients to build a roadmap for the responsible use of AI to deliver efficient, dignified, and equitable benefits access.

Read More

Harnessing AI to Help Front-Line Caseworkers

In collaboration with Nava, an organization at the forefront of reimagining how government serves people, BDT is piloting a new tool using various forms of predictive and generative AI to support caseworkers helping eligible families enroll in public benefits. Soon, the knowledge it might take a benefits expert decades to gain will be available to caseworkers through AI-powered tools, allowing them to spend more of their time providing one-on-one support to those who need it.

Go to AI Video Series page

Putting People at the Center

As part of our effort to help governments, fellow nonprofits, and others explore the role of AI, BDT hosted a series of conversations in 2023 between CEO Trooper Sanders, who is a member of the National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee, and renowned AI experts Afua Bruce, Karen Levy, and Elizabeth Kelly.

Higher Education

Helping Students Focus on School... Instead of Their Next Meal

Millions of college students struggle to meet basic needs like food, healthcare, and internet access, while many aspiring students wonder how they will afford college. This includes a disproportionate number of first-generation students and students of color. Help is available, but not always easily accessible.

BDT is working to close the benefits gap for students, because when they don’t have to worry about meeting basic needs, they are free to focus on their education — and their future.

2M SNAP-eligible college students don’t get the help they need paying for food.

College students experience higher rates of food insecurity than the general population. Yet most eligible students aren't enrolled in SNAP. According to a survey undertaken by BDT and Education Northwest, the two most common barriers to SNAP enrollment among students are "I don't know if I'm eligible" and "I don't know about it."

Read More
A student sits on steps outdoors using her laptop

Benefits go the extra mile for college students

Combining public benefits with a Pell Grant can double a student's financial support for college.

A single student receiving $8,000 per year from other assistance can earn a total of $15,395 per year with $7,395 per year from a pell grant. A student with one child receiving $14,500 per year from other assistance could receive $21,895 per year with the additional $7,395 from a pell grant.A single student receiving $8,000 per year from other assistance can earn a total of $15,395 per year with $7,395 per year from a pell grant. A student with one child receiving $14,500 per year from other assistance could receive $21,895 per year with the additional $7,395 from a pell grant.

BDT Shares Toolkit to Connect Students to Benefits

In February 2023, BDT unveiled a toolkit to help colleges use data they already have to identify students likely eligible for public assistance and conduct outreach to connect them to support.

  • 12 higher education institutions

    partnered with BDT in 2023 to implement our toolkit to help students get the assistance they need

  • 340+ higher ed leaders from 42 states

    joined our webinar to learn how to identify and help students struggling to meet basic needs

SUNY Launches New Outreach Program

As shared by New York Governor Kathy Hochul and SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr., the nation’s largest comprehensive public university system is working with BDT to implement our toolkit to identify students eligible for public assistance, starting on 5 community college campuses.

As many as 1 in 10 of SUNY’s 363,000 students may be eligible for, but not receiving, food assistance.

Wyatt Lands in Louisiana

The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) teamed up with BDT to make our digital FAFSA advisor Wyatt available to the state’s entire graduating class and solidify Louisiana’s role as a nationwide leader in FAFSA completion.

Read More
30,000 Louisiana high school seniors are expected to complete the FAFSA this year.

Healthcare

Leveraging Public Benefits to Improve Public Health

Safety net programs are not just a financial lifeline. They’re an investment in the health of individuals, families, and whole communities. They reduce hospitalization rates for older adults. They lead to lower healthcare costs. They cut the risk of health problems for children later in life.

In 2023, BDT and our healthcare partners worked to connect their members and patients to vital assistance programs that improve health and put money back in people’s pockets, so they can afford other basic needs.

Our 2023 Impact With UPMC

  • 928 households

    assisted

  • 1,862 applications

    submitted

  • $2.2M

    in public benefits delivered

Addressing Health Needs in Pennsylvania

BDT continued its collaboration with UPMC Health Plan in 2023. UPMC for You refers its Medicaid managed care members eligible for supplemental benefits, then connects them to BDT to apply for programs like SNAP and LIHEAP (the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program).

Read More

Our 2023 Impact With Blue Cross NC

  • 4,425

    applications submitted

  • Nearly $6M

    of food assistance secured

Improving Access to Food for Better Health in North Carolina

Over half a million North Carolinians are likely eligible for, but not receiving, food assistance. Knowing the power of SNAP to improve health and reduce costs, BDT and Blue Cross NC piloted innovative ways to identify members who may qualify for help.

Continuous participation in SNAP is associated with...

Proving Food Is Medicine

A four-year study BDT conducted in collaboration with the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care added new evidence that food security and good health go hand-in-hand. Specifically, continuous participation in SNAP is associated with lower overall health costs and lower pharmacy costs. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal NEJM Catalyst.

Our Partners

Working Together to Close the Benefits Gap

We are proud to work with a coalition of partners to transform the American safety net so families experience a brighter, more promising future.

aarp
ballmer-group
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colorado-department-helth-services
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families-and-workers-fund
gitlab
google
healthshare-exchange
hillman-foundation-logo
leonard-helen-r-stulman
maryland-human-services
michigan-dept-health-human-services
michigan-health-fund
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new-york-hunger-solutions
new-york-office-temp-disability
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pierce
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the-morris-gwendolyn-cafritz-foundation
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united healthcare
united-way
upmc
walmart-foundation
wells-fargo
william-penn-foundation
google
healthshare-exchange
aarp
ballmer-group
bill-gates-foundation
blue-meridian
centri-tech-foundation-logo
city-of-philadelphia
colorado-department-helth-services
comcast-nbc-logo
david-barbara-hirschhorn
families-and-workers-fund
gitlab
google
healthshare-exchange
hillman-foundation-logo
leonard-helen-r-stulman
maryland-human-services
michigan-dept-health-human-services
michigan-health-fund
national-council-aging
new-york-hunger-solutions
new-york-office-temp-disability
no-kid-hungry
north-carolina-ss
open-ai
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pennsylvania-dept-labor-industry
pennsylvannia-dept-human-services
pierce
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the-morris-gwendolyn-cafritz-foundation
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trenton-health-team
united healthcare
united-way
upmc
walmart-foundation
wells-fargo
william-penn-foundation
google
healthshare-exchange

Financials

Making Every Dollar Count

Our work is funded by generous donors and philanthropic organizations, in addition to partnerships with government agencies, educational institutions, healthcare organizations, and others.

Revenue

  • 53%

    Philanthropy

  • 10%

    Healthcare & Higher Education

  • 37%

    Government

For every dollar received in 2023, BDT helped unlock $450 in public assistance.

Donate

Let’s transform the American safety net togetherand ensure everyone gets the help they need, when they need it.