9 Things You Didn’t Know About 211

Everyone knows about 9-1-1. But fewer people know about 211, the nationwide service for non-emergency life challenges. The kind everyone faces at some point in their lives when they have no idea where to turn but sure could use some extra help.

Funded in part by United Way of the Mohawk Valley, 211 is a vital service connecting millions of people each year to help their communities. 211 is a free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service connecting Mohawk Valley residents with support for health and human services. Anyone needing help or information can call 1-844-342-5211 to reach a trained 211 specialist. An easy-to-remember three-digit phone number also connects New Yorkers to help by dialing 2-1-1.

Here are 9 things you might not know about 211:

1. We can help with complex challenges, whatever they may be. 211 connects people to resources like:

  • Employment and job training
  • Health and mental health assistance
  • Childcare and after-school programs
  • Financial coaching
  • Addiction treatment
  • Transportation
  • Affordable housing and rent assistance
  • Legal services
  • Disaster recovery
  • Utility assistance
  • Disability resources
  • Veteran services
  • Tax preparation

2. 211 is for anyone.

Everyone faces challenges. Job loss, illness, natural disasters, and other events can upend anyone’s life. In those moments, 211 is a good resource to have in your back pocket. Best of all, the service is available to everyone, regardless of income level. Spread the word to your friends, family, and co-workers so they are prepared when things take a turn for the worse.

3. 211 is available 24/7/365.

That’s every day, every hour, every minute of the year. And if you don’t feel like calling, you can text or use the website. Check unitedwaymv.org/211 to find your local texting number and website. 

4. You can access 211 for yourself, friends, and family across the United States.

Starting on Feb 11, 2023, 99% of the U.S. population has access to 211. Virtually Canadians also have access to the service.

5. 211 helps tens of millions each year.

In 2022, 211 made almost 24 million connections between people in need and local help. That’s in addition to millions of website searches! 

6. You’ll talk to a real person.

A trained, expert specialist answers the call, helps identify the root causes of your problem, and connects you to local resources.

7. Translation is available in 180 languages!

That makes the service available to millions more people than would otherwise have access to it.

8. 211 changes lives.

Lives a local man right here in the Mohawk Valley. A man searching for his biological mother expressed his gratitude to a 211 call center counselor who provided the caller with a solid resource to successfully connect with his relative, thanks to 211 and the counselor who helped. He stated that 211’s help changed his entire life and was grateful for the service going “the extra mile” to help. This may seem like an above-and-beyond service for those in need of help. However, it is the level of personal help individuals can expect when calling 211.

9. The benefits United Way MV’s 211 brings to the community are more profound than connecting those to help.

With 211, United Way MV can best understand our community's most pressing needs and challenges. The abilities that 211 can bring span even further. United Way MV is leading the charge to bring a “closed-loop referral” system to better serve those seeking help and those providing it. This means when 211 refers a caller to a community service, the service will receive a notification that a referral was made to them. Programs and organizations that sign on with United Way MV’s 211 can “close the loop” by letting 211 know the outcome of the referral. Through this step, 211 then learns the result of the referral. 

The ability to track referrals with the closed-loop system will enhance United Way MV’s ability to refine the referrals made and identify barriers and unmet needs within the Mohawk Valley. The community's most marginalized and vulnerable populations would then get the help they need instead of just being connected to a service. The closed-loop referral system will benefit clients, patients, local government agencies, and the community at large.

Need help?

United Way of the Mohawk Valley leads and powers 211 locally. Shortly after United Way of the Mohawk Valley launched 211 locally in 2016, the organization grew the ways to access help with 211. Those seeking services can call, text, or search the database directly to find the help they need. 

Get connected to help faster with 211 by dialing 211 or 1-844-342-5211, visiting unitedwaymv.org/211, or texting your zip code to 898-211. Help is available 24/7 in 180 languages.