Program management

Empowering low-literacy and immigrant adults

This post was originally published on on September 7, 2018

International Literacy Day, celebrated on September 8, is a great time to celebrate the work of nonprofits and K-12 schools advancing literacy. The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 has as one of its targets ensuring all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that adults who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them. Indeed, now more than ever, literacy matters in a digital world for STEM skills and preparing youth to be future ready for careers.

One leader in this area is the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV).

By teaching adults the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English, the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia empowers low-literacy and immigrant adults to participate more fully and equitably in their communities. Established in 1962, LCNV provides low-cost English language and literacy classes and prepares students for workforce entry through classroom, small group, and tutorial instruction. The organization relies heavily on its volunteer instructors who act as classroom teachers, class aides, and tutors, as well as student assessment specialists.

In years past, LCNV utilized an outdated database to record daily tasks for all literacy services. Database limitation caused significant amounts of duplicate data, which hindered data clarity and reporting. Volunteer instructors tracked student details (attendance, goals, progress, etc.) by paper thus requiring manual data entry. Reliance on manually entered data is risky: LCNV found that the ability to manage volunteers, track students, teachers, and volunteers’ history, and monitor donors and fundraising efforts were negatively impacted.

Working with partner, Fíonta, LCNV used the Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA), along with elements of the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) to accommodate services and cultivation and meet their tracking needs. Custom objects were created for known languages, income, course hours, student goals, and student test scores to meet unique LCNV requirements. Additionally, donations are now tied to the appropriate entity, enabling a clear view of an organization’s or individual’s donation history, cumulative reporting, and donor cultivation.

By using Salesforce Communities as a portal for staff and teachers, LCNV was able to say goodbye to paper, while providing an easy way for volunteer teachers to add, track, and view course hours, test scores, and goals for each student. As LCNV relies heavily on its volunteer team, improvements to the volunteer recruitment, onboarding, and ongoing scheduling process were a large part of the project supported by Volunteers for Salesforce.

Many other Apps were integrated to improve workflow, donor tracking, and more, including Declarative Lookup Rollup Summary (DLRS), GridBuddy, iATS, Drawloop, DemandTools, DupeBlocker, and Matching Gifts.

Following the move to Salesforce for Nonprofits and Education Cloud, LCNV found that they were able to beat a previously tight and challenging state deadline as the mandated data was easy to curate, and reports could be generated on the fly. In a recent semester, 418 students were enrolled in classes. The process used to be that teachers recorded class attendance in a Google Doc and then this data was re-recorded into their existing database. Now teachers enter information weekly through Salesforce Communities. With either two or three classes per week, and 418 students, the new process saves 5,016 data entries per 12-week semester!

After implementing Salesforce, the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, has decreased the time it has to spend on recording and reporting tasks and freed up resources like staff, teachers, and volunteers to focus on the mission of empowering low literacy and immigrant adults.

Learn more about the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia here, and if you’re local to the Northern Virginia area, consider interested in volunteering.

Fionta is a Premium Partner specializing in the implementation of Salesforce specifically for associations and other nonprofits. Members of our executive team will be at Dreamforce ‘18 in the Lodge.

Can’t make it to Dreamforce? Stay up-to-date on the latest information about how nonprofits are using technology to advance their missions, with the latest benchmarks in the Nonprofit Trends Report from Salesforce Research.

Download the Research