Checks. Datebooks. “While you were out” memo pads. These are relics in today’s office; paper just isn’t our go-to tool these days. But paper still ruled at the Bennie E. Goodwin After School Academic Program. Staff members were using paper methods to keep track of a variety of details encompassing the entire scope of their program — and it just wasn’t working anymore.
“They came in to help us with specific areas,” says Terry Liggins, executive director of the Goodwin Program. “We were a big pen-and-paper-type group, and not so much a technology one.”
SVP, represented by a team of Denver Active 20-30 Children’s Foundation members, and the Goodwin Program identified a number of projects they could collaborate on to help the after-school program move forward. After a couple of months, they zeroed in on two: Moving documents to the cloud, and gaining improved functionality from a computerized attendance program.
Now, the days of pen and paper are largely behind the Goodwin Program. Putting information in the cloud dramatically changed the way the organization operated.
“I don’t have to sit in the office and wait for a document to come to us,” Liggins says. “I don’t have to run to the office and pick up something. I’m able to do it off-site. It really streamlined our documents, and it helped with communication and with time management. I can get something to our bookkeeper or receive something from our grant writer pretty quickly.”
Gone are the days when each staff member had a different version of a document on his or her computer. Now, everyone has complete and easy access to the most current documents through the cloud, and can take care of routine updates without being tied to their desks.
Not only that, but the meetings with SVP were so effective that the Goodwin Program staff adopted the weekly debrief meeting schedule to keep one another updated on progress.
“We saw what technology could do for us,” Liggins says, noting that staff members now use their time more efficiently and communicate more regularly. “We bring our computers to our meetings. We are in the cloud at the same time working on documents. When we sit together, we started realizing everything that was going on and how that affects each of us.”
SVP also helped the Goodwin Program get increased functionality out of its computerized attendance system. The system, which the program had used for years, let staff members access online training, but that only went so far. With support from SVP, the program was able to unlock many components of the attendance system that will strengthen the organization’s demographic data and enhance its ability to tell its story.
Robust data will help the Goodwin Program compare program performance over time in a way it couldn’t do with paper-based records. The enhanced features of the attendance system will also enable staff to pull data for charts and graphs that will lead to more vibrant presentations to donors and partners, making the story of the Goodwin Program more visual and easier to understand. These facts and figures may even prove helpful in grant writing.
The steps taken with technology even have staff looking at ways to better implement technology for the students they serve. The organization’s first foray into tech offerings for their students was not as effective as the staff had hoped. But the students are using technology ever more frequently at school, including for testing, so their after-school program needs to have technology available for practice.
“These updates have heightened our sense of connection between technology and education,” Liggins says. “We’re literally evaluating our whole program because of this project.”
Visit Bennie E. Goodwin After School Academic Program for more information on the organization and their wonderful work.
Written by SVP Partner Carrie Jordan