Using Communities to make kindness commonplace
Stand for Children (Stand) does anything but stand still when it sees young people experiencing a problem. In early 2017, the nonprofit knew it needed to act quickly to address the measurable rise in bullying in schools, the consequences of which are heartbreaking and often permanent.
So, in partnership with content experts, Stand created the “Middle School Kindness Challenge”. By teaching students skills in kindness, compassion and empathy, the program aimed to address bullying and harassment through positive skill-building, and create more welcoming schools, through a rigorous but flexible program that aligned with social-emotional learning. To distribute the program, Stand used Experience Cloud for Nonprofits and brought like-minded people from across the country – quite literally – into a community. One year in, Stand for Children had made kindness commonplace.
Finding the right Salesforce solution…
Stand had a pretty audacious vision for the challenge – to create a minimum viable product within four months, to distribute it at low cost and to go beyond the nonprofit’s existing footprint, to schools across the country. The small five-person team knew they needed to identify a platform that would:
- enable distribution of the program as an app, for attractive visuals and easy access to content in the classroom;
- allow for individual access by educator, and the opportunity to group educators into schools, and schools into districts, for operational management;
- have performance management functionality, to make good data-driven decisions;
- be cost effective at scale.
Stand had been building its expertise in Salesforce over six years. With the help of an implementation partner, the nonprofit started by using CRM as a system of record. It then added the Nonprofit Success Pack for fundraising, volunteer management and performance management of its work in 10 US states and 17 different school districts. Today, around 100 staff across the country use the platform as part of their regular work.
So, it made sense for Stand to look to the Salesforce ecosystem to innovate. “The power of this enterprise ecosystem allows us to solve really complex programs with simple solutions”, says Nevin.
In Experience Cloud for Nonprofits, the team recognized an opportunity to create a digital community, and empower individual educators and schools, with the tools and progress metrics they needed to ensure successful completion of the challenge. Stand was also able to connect Communities to existing master data and use the Lightning Design System to customize the user interface for the specifics of their program.
…to innovate for a new challenge
The challenge is composed of three parts. The first is a reflection activity that teachers do for themselves. The second is a series of activities that educators teach to students. The third is a kindness ritual, that unites the whole school, to embed student learning into regular practice.
So, for each participating school, Stand created three tabs – “My Challenge”, “School Challenge” and “Kindness Captain”. The “My Challenge” tab helps each teacher along their personalized journey. Every participating educator has a list of activities, and a progress bar, to help drive them through the program to completion. Once they have taught an activity, the educator must rate it, to get credit for completion and move their progress bar along. They also have the opportunity to provide feedback. This design has enabled Stand to build a rich data set around what’s working – and not working – in the classroom and adjust their program content accordingly. And, as educators continue to research new activities, they are able to see ratings across the country, which helps them identify what has been effective in other classrooms. “That’s the power of shared data”, says Nevin. It helps create the foundation of community.
The “Kindness Captain” tab drives scale, by distributing program management to individual schools. A teacher or volunteer can act as captain, and monitor progress of all participating educators towards the school’s goals. A dashboard shows which educators are on track and which ones need additional support to complete their personal challenge. This helps captains know where to focus their time, and see how their actions can move the entire school forward towards completion. The captain can also easily access and share education tools, such as a school kindness ritual, and administrative tools, such as a staff sign-up sheet, to aid their work.
…with nationwide success
Although the challenge has only been in operation for around one year, the results have been beyond anything that the team had anticipated.
First, Experience Cloud for Nonprofits has enabled Stand to successfully scale the program. Within the first year, over 1,500 schools were signed up, across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 13,000 individual educators were registered. 23,000 activities had been taught to middle school students, with an average teacher rating of 4.26 out of 5. Stand has used Salesforce technology to bring people together around the tools needed to drive social-emotional learning forward.
Second, in data collected through Communities, Stand has been able to show encouraging signs that the more kindness activities students participated in, the lower the rates of student discipline events. Nevin explains, “the early signs show that this is having the kind of results we are looking for. Students are being kinder to each other. Educators and students’ relationships are improving so that they can work together through issues.” In fact, by helping to avoid punitive measures like suspensions, the program outcomes have connected to Stand’s overall mission – to break the cycle of missed school days, incomplete education, and lack of opportunity after high school.
It really does pay off!
The team were certainly audacious and willing to take risks. But Nevin says, “we couldn’t have achieved cost at scale without the platform. We appreciate the commitment that Salesforce has made to nonprofits like us”. He hopes that other nonprofits will look at the opportunities that the platform offers to achieve their mission at scale.
For those organizations just getting started on their Salesforce journey and feeling overwhelmed by the work ahead, he has a particular message.
“It might feel like it’ll never happen, but it will happen. Keep going. You’ll get there. And it really does pay off.” That’s the benefit of taking a stand.