Rooted in the Mission and focused on San Francisco, Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA)’s mission is to strengthen low- and moderate-income Latino families by promoting economic equity and social justice through asset building and community development.
MEDA is the lead agency for the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN), a community school collaboration funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Promise Neighborhoods provide supportive cradle-to-career services for families so their children may succeed in school and lift themselves out of poverty.
MEDA wanted to show progress on the indicators of success mandated by their funder while also addressing the unique needs of San Francisco families. However, each of their 20+ partners kept its own records, locking away insights. To view shared progress, the collaborative would need to create a collaborative database to track their collective impact work.
VARIED PARTNER CAPACITY & DATA COLLECTION
The collaborative had a goal of collecting more and richer data. MEDA sent an evaluation team to each partner to conduct data assessments and find out its capacity. Capacities ranged from high to low, and partners used diverse methods to collect and store data. They needed a system that was easy for many levels of users to interact with daily. “It’s important to know your partners’ data truth: to see how they’re really working with and accessing their data,” noted Michelle Reiss-Top, Technology and Data Systems Manager at MEDA. “It helps when thinking about the design, onboarding, and flexibility of your community technology solution.”
DUPLICATIVE MANUAL WORK
Working and collecting data separately meant that partners needed to enter data for shared clients separately, and use precious time conveying duplicative information via spreadsheets.
Exponent Partners implemented Exponent Case Management and Salesforce Communities for MEDA on the Salesforce platform, providing a 360-degree view of clients and enabling close online collaboration between partners. Their solution features case and program management, intake and assessment, service tracking and planning, referrals, and client records. With Communities, MEDA can aggregate and share their data, create reports and dashboards, and collaborate.
DATA THAT INFORMS PROGRAM DECISIONS
Exponent Case Management allows MEDA to compare assessments all the way from baseline to the latest, helping them to analyze longitudinally. These assessments link together and can be easily flipped through in sequence. Custom formula fields help them make sense of the assessments, which provide percentage change and delta, and show them how close individuals are to specific outcomes. “We have certain thresholds we want people to achieve towards financial stability, like a credit score of 650,” says Reiss-Top. “But we also know that sometimes a positive trajectory is the best victory we can get.” MEDA is able to track indicators toward desired outcomes and make changes to their work based on this understanding.
MEDA and MPN also work to meet 15 indicators of academic success as dictated by their funder, the Department of Education. MEDA’s family success coaches hear about family needs more than any other staff. As these coaches collect data in case notes, they check off the most common needs and are beginning to build their own set of data on assisting families. “We can use this data to shape local policy, inform program decisions, leverage the power of agencies together as a collective, and use the information to know what clients need most,” says Reiss-Top. The data not only overlaps with their funders, but also tells a larger story about how the agency and Promise Neighborhood can provide a stable environment for school children.
HOLISTIC OVERVIEW OF FAMILY PROGRESS
With their case management solution, MEDA and MPN are able to measure progress over time for families receiving wraparound services. A household record in the system displays a holistic overview of the family, sharing parents’ and children’s overall situation and services they are using. Two summary charts show a breakdown of member services and program referrals for household members. Formulas auto-calculate eligibility for benefits like Medi-Cal and Covered California.
At any time, staff can zoom in on individual records, such as outbound referrals, assessments, and case records (also a tracker for program enrollment), which are organized neatly. They can drill down into individual case records and see aspects like the amount of direct services individuals are receiving, classes they are taking, important financial indicators like credit and savings, and their path to graduation. These overviews allow MEDA and partners to see how families are doing and identify additional support they may need.
INCREASED COLLABORATION & SERVICE INTEGRATION ACROSS PARTNERS
MEDA was able to collaborate more closely across its partner organizations using some key features in Exponent Case Management and Salesforce Communities. When referring out to partners, they now make use of a handy “search need” feature that allows them to find partner agencies by specific descriptions, requirements, even transit options. Much of the manual burden is alleviated by workflows that auto-send messages when a referral status is changed on an individual’s record: which provide the new referral agency with the request, notes, and key contact information, and share the result with the original requester. They can pick up the phone or return to Salesforce and manage their referrals there. “One unexpected benefit of these emails was that staff started to click ‘reply’!” notes Reiss-Top. “Staff at different agencies are engaging in dialogues about shared clients. It opened up a line of communication they simply didn’t have before!”
Salesforce Chatter also increases communication across partners. Agencies in different buildings can mention staff in records or tag each other on a conversation about a family. These are not a mirror image of the data, but live records they can edit together and add to. “It gives a sense of ‘we’re all in it together,’” Reiss-Top says. “The feed and groups create a virtual workspace that helps us take action and share ownership on a deeper level.”
In MEDA’s journey to collective impact with MPN, they can also begin to view service integration, from dashboards pulling partner data on services and referrals, to breakdowns of families supported by partner agencies, to the overall number of families engaged in asset building. This can help them learn the impact of their collaboration.