Mobile Pathways – Building Trust to Ensure Vaccine Equity

by Suprita Makh September 27, 2022 | 6 min read

Life across the world has settled into a “new normal” as we approach almost three years of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re getting used to waves of variants and we’ve gone back to work, school, weddings, concerts, and holidays. None of this would have been possible without the historic speed at which COVID-19 vaccines were developed. 

As COVID-19 vaccines became available in early 2021, it was widely recognized that vaccine equity—equitable, safe, and trusted access to vaccines—was the only way to end the pandemic. This is why PagerDuty launched a $1M grant fund in 2021 to close the global vaccine equity gap and funded eight organizations working on vaccine equity, access, and distribution. 

A year into our partnership, here’s a spotlight on the work that one of our grantees, Mobile Pathways, led along with the Vaccine Equity Coalition to bring trusted vaccine information and access to under-documented and detained immigrant communities across the United States, with a particular focus on border areas and within ICE detention facilities. Immigrants are among the most marginalized communities in the world and the pandemic has hit them particularly hard. In the U.S., undocumented immigrant communities have often lacked access to vaccines and trusted information about them. 

Mobile Pathways, a pioneer for democratizing justice via technology, supports marginalized immigrants to navigate the complex maze of the U.S. immigration system through trusted mobile technology. As critical components of this support, Mobile Pathways focuses on two primary impact indicators—safety and preparedness. When the pandemic hit, it became clear that both safety and preparedness were especially relevant for marginalized communities impacted by COVID-19. Mobile Pathways formed a coalition of 26 immigration grassroots organizations to combat vaccine misinformation. 

As public health guidance shifted from lockdowns to vaccine distribution, the coalition knew that marginalized immigrants would face multiple hurdles gaining access to vaccines. To address these challenges, the vaccine equity coalition ensured that scientifically accurate and culturally resonant information about vaccines reached the most vulnerable communities. They partnered with local clinics, visited classrooms and workplaces, organized popup vaccine clinics, and set up hotlines accessible in ICE detention centers to combat misinformation and open up easy access to vaccines. 

Leading a coalition for equitable access

With the support of a grant, Mobile Pathways and the Vaccine Equity Coalition have provided accurate vaccine information to three times the number of people than their original goal. “Our coalition of nonprofits informed over 882,000 people about the COVID-19 vaccination via multiple outreach methods, far exceeding our original goal of 256,000. We’ve also vaccinated more than 25,000 people and provided testing kits or proctored tests, required for border crossing and access to shelters, to over 15,000 people. I’m truly floored by our stellar performance and grateful for all partners who made this impact possible,” said Bartlomiej Skorupa, Co-founder of Mobile Pathways. 

This outsized impact was never going to be easy, and it could have been particularly challenging with a diverse group of coalition members and stakeholders. Mobile Pathways played a critical leadership role in bringing together different stakeholders with shared interests, creating a safe space for collaboration and problem-solving, and fundraising. They recognized that with fast moving and often confusing information on COVID-19 variants, vaccine doses, and boosters, the coalition needed to proactively share and communicate with each other to ensure that they were keeping pace with official guidelines. Mobile Pathways set a target for the coalition to build an easy and mobile-friendly progress report that each member organization could fill out in five minutes or less—a goal that all of us funders should aspire to. The easy reporting enabled the coalition to be nimble in sharing findings and empowering coalition members to monitor and track progress on collective and individual goals. 

They have also set the standard in transparency and open-sourced learning by making the coalition’s monthly reflections and learnings calls available to the public. The direct support to the community that the coalition provided is evident from the impact stories shared during each call, like the story Freedom for Immigrants shared of an immigrant mother who was detained at the border and separated from her seven-year-old daughter for a year. Freedom for Immigrants runs a hotline, which the mom called; they were able to bond her out of detention, reunite her with her daughter, and provide them both with the resources to get COVID-19 vaccines. The coalition’s proactive communication was key in its prompt response to the opening of the U.S./Mexico border in November 2021. Crossing the border required proctored COVID-19 tests, a need the coalition partner Global Response Management quickly filled by administering thousands of tests per week so families could be reunited.

The key to the coalition’s success has been three-fold: “A big piece of our success is trust. We relied heavily on our partners’ expertise and networks to inform us of the strategies that will work in their communities. We also reflected regularly, with monthly meetings to share resources, strategies and learn from failures. Finally, our ‘Trust Yet Verify’ strategy helped our partners to digitally transform, enabling them to share and review weekly data, as well as identify trends and areas to improve,” shared Bart.    

What’s next?

The work to support immigrant and refugee communities is far from over. Mobile Pathways will continue to build coalitions with immigration advocates to expand its reach and provide more resources, especially in rural America. Mobile Pathways plans to expand nationally to meet the growing demand for their services and getting more immigration advocate partners involved in coalitions. Mobile Pathways has recently launched Hola Asistente—a free text-based immigration assistant for anyone in immigrant court. The app is powered by vetted immigration attorneys and provides detailed case information, tracks and alerts users about changes to their immigration case, and teaches them the basics of immigration law in multiple languages. 

According to Bart, the support of PagerDuty has been critical in efforts to reach immigrants and improve vaccine equity. “As we celebrate the amazing work of our vaccine coalition’s efforts, we know that our efforts made possible by PagerDuty will resound for decades to come. Like us, PagerDuty embraces the core value of ‘Listen First’. If you really want to team up, then you need to listen to what the other party is saying, always. I believe PagerDuty refers to this as “Run Together.” With the support of PagerDuty, we believe that we can create systemic change and better support the rights of all marginalized immigrants.” 

The work ahead for Mobile Pathways and their partners is not easy. Here’s how you can help them support immigrant communities gain equitable access to resources: 

  • Share the stories of undocumented immigrants affected by COVID-19
  • Learn how Hola Asistente helped Djamal win asylum. 
  • Know someone who could benefit from Hola Asistente? Share the app with them. 

While you’re here, check out our 2021 Impact Report.