Catholic Schools Center of Excellence
CSCOE Supports Student Achievement at Scale
In 2015, Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE) was founded with the dual mission of growing enrollment and increasing the standard of excellence for students. Serving 79 preschool-8th grade elementary schools across the greater Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, CSCOE envisions a future in which students achieve their full and unique potential. “We firmly believe that every child is designed for greatness,” says Mike Halloran, CSCOE’s Vice President of Development and Operations. “And we accompany that child, their teacher, their parents and their school on his or her journey towards realizing that greatness.”
CSCOE directly invests in the schools and in student success, via grants and program support ranging from preschool programs, comprehensive literacy initiatives, STEM Lending Library, Latino enrollment efforts and investments in technology. It also operates an innovative principal mentorship program in which experienced school leaders help new principals navigate their schools and student bodies. Additionally, CSCOE provides critical resources to improve teacher quality, including educator academies for professional development and grants for teacher recruitment efforts. Halloran describes his organization’s role in supporting a large Catholic school network: “We listen to our schools and identify their greatest needs; find the best solution to address their needs; then provide the resources and support to help them meet their needs.”
Increasing Enrollment and Engagement
In the decade prior to CSCOE’s formation, enrollment in the dozens of schools it serves had declined by a third. “It was like this precious gift was falling through our fingertips,” says Halloran. Even though the schools in CSCOE’s network outperformed state and national medians in academic performance, their academic standing alone wasn’t reversing the trend of declining enrollment–and the attendant loss of funding.
CSCOE rose to the challenge by helping stabilize enrollment so that families could have more options for an excellent education. It assisted each school with its marketing and fundraising efforts, and worked to improve lines of communication between schools and their prospective students, parents, and alumni. As it did so, CSCOE realized the schools they serve needed an integrated marketing system, a more robust database in the cloud, and better ways to engage alumni–all grounded in a centralized relationship management tool. The need for this kind of CRM platform was palpable–incomplete and outdated constituent data was exacerbated by the reality that very few alumni were being digitally engaged.
Implementing and Customizing a Robust Platform
To address these varied needs, CSCOE tapped the experience of Salesforce.org Premium Implementation Partner, Cloud for Good. “The Salesforce initiative is a great example of investing in our schools,” Halloran explains. “We talked to many principals who made their challenges clear. Thus began our partnership with Salesforce and with Cloud for Good.” Informed by these school-level insights, CSCOE identified key overlapping needs–notably in the areas of technology and alumni relations.
Many of the CSCOE schools needed to improve communication with their alumni, and to make outreach to prospective students and parents more engaging. Most of each school’s alumni data was being stored in a patchwork of spreadsheets, which made it increasingly difficult to track specific donations and interactions. CSCOE used Salesforce to help centralize alumni data as well as improve data integrity, removing duplicates and keeping more up-to-date records.
CSCOE also built additional customizations to Salesforce Sales Cloud that encompassed its unique needs as a non-profit engaged with thousands of students, teachers, and parents across many schools–in many ways operating similar to a school district or charter management network. “Salesforce allowed us to customize more than our former system allowed us to,” says Doug Lieser, Development Director for Community of Saints Regional Catholic School. Lieser also notes that the ability to easily tailor the system to meet each school’s unique needs was a key selling point: “That’s why we were excited to move to Salesforce from our old system.” Salesforce also offered CSCOE Help Desk support, data migration through the Cloud for Good partnership, and a Development Toolkit on best practices for growing its annual fund.
Telling the CSCOE Story to a Broader Audience
Salesforce also gave CSCOE a platform to improve broader awareness in the communities of the schools it serves. Their previous CRM system did not allow for seamless personalization by school or by community member. Low visibility in local communities meant that potential students and families were not aware of CSCOE’s elementary school offerings. Each school needed to raise awareness, which required digital marketing techniques such as targeted email and social media to build their contact databases. “We’ve assisted almost every single school on this,” says Halloran. “We’ve invested in upgrades to websites, short videos, and helping schools maximize their whole social media presence.”
CSCOE also seeks to nurture its entire community of students, parents, teachers, and alumni. Intentionally and proactively engaging alumni creates a virtuous cycle to strengthen the network. “With over three hundred thousand living alums,” Halloran predicts, “the ability to tell the story of why the schools are there, what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it is going to be a big deal in the future.” Once a student graduates from a school that CSCOE serves, they will not only have had an excellent academic experience but will also be a lifelong member of an increasingly supportive and engaged community.
The schools themselves are enthusiastically embracing the changes and have expressed their appreciation for the Salesforce platform.
“We’ve received feedback that this is the best thing since sliced bread,” Halloran adds. “Salesforce helps us deliver value so quickly to all the schools, students, and families we serve.”