Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands
FOCUSING ON ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
The Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands uses data tracking to collaborate with local Omaha schools
Through a data-sharing partnership with local school districts, the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands found that its members had below grade-level reading scores. In response, the Club launched a new program that required a strong data tracking system. With the addition of this new technology, the Club was better able to manage data, drive efficiencies and plan programming.
While these figures should serve as a bold call to action for legislators, educators, parents and other youth-serving organizations, the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands (BGCM) is already on track. As part of its strategic plan for more than 10 years, the Club is focused on helping youth become more academically successful.
“We see as many as 1,500 kids a day,” said Regina Tullos-Williams, BGCM’s Director of Strategic Program Development. “When you have that many kids in your building, we recognized a prime opportunity to involve them in academic support that will enable them to achieve their ultimate outcome—whether that’s continued education, military or work. We want our youth to have a choice and are preparing them to be successful at pursuing any number of life goals.”
Launching Readers to Leaders
With six club locations and two middle school sites in the Omaha/Council Bluffs region, BGCM annually helps more than 5,700 kids between the ages of six and 18 receive vital direction and educational support. For the past five years, BGCM has worked with local school districts to collect report card data for the youth in its programs. Through this effort, the organization discovered that many of its members were reading at below-average levels.
“Studies show that if children are not reading at grade level by third grade, they have a tremendous obstacle to overcome and are more likely to drop out of school. Intervention is critical. Our Readers to Leaders initiative provides our seven- to eight-year-olds with extra reading help every day after school,” said Nancy Williams, BGCM’s Chief Information Officer.
BGCM launched its Readers to Leaders program, which is unique to its organization, in June 2012. To stay on top of its participants’ performance, BGCM relies on KidTrax, a comprehensive nonprofit performance measurement system from nFocus Solutions, the leader in software for nonprofits.
“KidTrax enables us to monitor how our kids are improving their grades as a result of our programs,” said Williams. “United Way was so impressed with the outcomes from our six-week Readers to Leaders pilot that we received additional funding to continue and expand our program. Our next goal is to target middle school youth.”
“If it’s Not in KidTrax, it Didn’t Happen”
BGCM is an early adopter of KidTrax, having implemented it in the late 1990s. Over the years, as nFocus enhanced its software and released new versions, BGCM kept the pace to ensure it was leveraging the latest capabilities.
“Our motto is, ‘if it’s not in KidTrax, it didn’t happen’,” Tullos-Williams explained. “With the data that we collect on our members, KidTrax enables us to be more accountable to our parents, community, donors and board. We’ve eliminated disparate spreadsheets and paper-based processes to improve consistency and accuracy across sites while increasing staff productivity.”
KidTrax also provides the data that BGCM needs to ensure reimbursement from the USDA for its Childcare Food Program.
“Our North Club alone served over 47,000 meals last year, so just imagine the amount of time it would take for us to generate 100 percent accurate reports for all six locations,” said Tullos-Williams. “It used to take us days and now our reporting takes us two to three hours with KidTrax enabling us to scan at the point of service.”
Letting Data Drive Decision Making
The insight that BGCM gleams from KidTrax also enables the organization to better target its programming.
“We rely on data from KidTrax to drive our decision making. We use that information for our annual program and budget planning, as well as for day-to-day intervention,” Williams added
KidTrax revealed the need for BGCM to offer unique “tween” programs for youth aged 10 to 12. While BGCM had separate areas designated for youth younger than 13 and those in their teenage years, KidTrax data showed that the 10- to 12-year-olds were not participating in the structured activities for youth under 13.
“We discovered that an 11-year-old doesn’t want to be with nine-year-olds,” Tullos-Williams said. “They were hanging out instead of going into more beneficial, age-appropriate activities.”
Staff can also see a longitudinal history of each member’s activities and programs within KidTrax. If a child is demonstrating inappropriate behaviors, staff can see what programs he or she completed and which ones may be beneficial to get him or her back on track.
“Likewise, if we have an alumnus later elected to Congress or becomes successful in the community, we can see in KidTrax a history of our programs that helped foster that success,” Tullos-Williams added.
Streamlining Financial Processes
In addition to being power users of KidTrax at all locations, BGCM uses the nonprofit software provider’s VolunteerTrax, MoneyTrax and Case Management applications at two locations. VolunteerTrax enables the organization to better manage its diverse volunteer base. After volunteers successfully complete thorough background checks and orientation, the Club enters that data into VolunteerTrax and provides each volunteer with a picture identification card for scanning.
“Staff can easily track and monitor detailed information such as volunteer hours, demographics, reviews and any warning signs,” Williams said. “Rather than filing all this critical information away, it’s readily visible in VolunteerTrax to any authorized user for better decision making and faster reporting.”
Case Management, a leading social services case management software tool, helps the organization better monitor and structure coordinated programs for at-risk youth. BGCM also uses MoneyTrax to manage fees, track payments, run invoicing and enable online registration.
Williams noted, “We have successfully streamlined our financial processes and ensured every location follows the same secure and highly accountable procedures with the support of nFocus. Since MoneyTrax has built-in accounting principles, we can now better satisfy our finance and auditing requirements.”
BGCM staff has even completed nFocus training and become certified on the solutions.
“If you ensure good data goes into the system, then great outcomes will come out as a result,” said Williams. “Having our staff complete nFocus training and certification helps them do their jobs better so we can maximize our investment in our TraxSolutions software and have more time for serving our youth.”