Supporting a faith and community-based non-profit in its mission to help prevent at-risk youth detention and incarceration with comprehensive case management

 

 

The Challenge

The Urban Youth Alliance (UYA) is a faith and community based organization dedicated to building communities, transforming lives, and nurturing and sustaining both. It does so through several programs and organizations, including BronxConnect, founded in 1999 to address the epidemic of youth incarceration. BronxConnect works to keep young people out of jail by providing alternatives to detention and incarceration through case management and employment. The organization uses asset-based mentoring to connect high-risk youth and young adults with positive local community resources and violence prevention.

BronxConnect Urban Youth AllianceLike many non-profit organizations, BronxConnect suffered from the lack of modern and customizable non-profit case management software. BronxConnect had adopted makeshift, short-term solutions to meet immediate needs, but the technology was inadequate for serving the organization long-term.

For example, after visiting with clients in the field, BronxConnect staff transferred handwritten case notes onto forms. Client data was stored in a patchwork of disconnected systems comprised of separate databases, spreadsheets, and the hand-written notes. These systems maintained the data in silos, so staff had no visibility into many of the organization’s programs that could help their clients, from employment readiness training to violence interruption.

“We didn’t have one common truth in our data,” said Felicia Lemons, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Urban Youth Alliance/BronxConnect. “That meant that it took a series of emails, phone calls, and conversations to learn if a client was participating in multiple programs.”

The staff at BronxConnect also wanted to focus more of their time doing more than routine administrative paperwork. They were looking to provide more mentorship, employment services, gun violence prevention, leadership training, and justice system alternatives. In short, they wanted to meet the organization’s main goal: to keep young people out of jail.

UYA identified the requirements of the system they needed, including:

  • Have a single, unified view of participants and interactions/engagements across different programs
  • Provide mobile access capabilities and mobility to improve accessibility
  • Eliminate as much manual data processing as possible to improve processes around reporting, contract management, and program execution while proactively managing programs and participants
  • Develop processes that would avoid duplication of effort with data entry to reduce issues with data quality
  • Provide better visibility into and management of funding and donation efforts and partners

Ideally, the solution would also scale to meet the requirements of other organizations and programs like PhillyConnect and ManhattanConnect.

The Solution

HSO was introduced to Urban Youth Alliance, and specifically BronxConnect, through another client that had struggled with the same legacy case management system.

In turn, HSO nominated BronxConnect for Microsoft’s Nonprofit Tech Acceleration (NTA) for Black and African American Communities, a program through which Microsoft utilizes their technology and partnerships to provide minority-focused non-profits with critical services and support at a local level. The NTA program increases technology support for non-profits that serve people of color offers a range of services depending on need.

With knowledge of and experience with Microsoft’s offerings, HSO recommended implementing a comprehensive case management system over three phases, working with Felicia and her team to build the best possible solution for their needs that included the Microsoft Nonprofit Accelerator, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and the Microsoft Power Platform.

“Once we knew HSO understood how non-profit organizations collect data and how CRMs work for non-profits,” said Felicia, “it was just a win-win.”

The Results

With the support of the new solution, case managers can work more efficiently to support their clients. With all the information in one place—including case notes and progress—they can provide the right services at the right time and have more time to spend on their clients and cases versus hunting for information or dealing with paperwork.

As a cloud-based solution, it also offers game-changing secure, remote access, enabling case managers to access sensitive information in the field, like social security cards and birth certificates. And they can now do their jobs from anywhere, with the ability to meet clients where they are, which improves participation and outcomes as well as outreach.

BronxConnect Urban Youth AllianceIn addition to case management, BronxConnect is now able to use the data the case managers are collecting every day as they work with their clients to identify trends and gain insights that will help them understand how to make more of an impact with their services and advance their mission.

Asked what the solution means to BronxConnect now, Felicia said, “BronxConnect will see big improvement in the management of activity, participant, donor, vendor, and funding organization. Access to critical data will be much easier with views, dashboards, and reports to ensure goals and milestone tracking for a unified view across all our programs.”

Based on the experience with BronxConnect, Felicia is excited about how other UYA programs can benefit: “Once we have the system in place, it is much easier to go to a new city and deploy a similar program. You can start up a lot quicker because you’ve already got the framework that’s built in the system. You’ve got the reports, you’ve got the different roles, you’ve got the different jobs for the roles defined. We identify the secret sauce as it relates to BronxConnect for Urban Youth Alliance and make sure we are replicating that, not just in Philadelphia, but in other cities as well. So, this solution will help us with our nationwide vision.”

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