Data. Information. Facts.
No matter how you say it, sharing data can be powerful, but it takes the right opportunity and a team of experts to make that a reality. That opportunity came from the Department of Education three years ago, with the creation and funding of the Mission Promise Neighborhood – a federal initiative to support children on a cradle-to-college-to-career continuum.
As Director of Evaluation for the Mission Promise Neighborhood, Monica Lopez has ensured that her team is at the vanguard of innovation as it pertains to emerging data-sharing technologies.
There was an immediate need for MEDA, the lead agency, to research options for data sharing among partners of the initiative. A flexible technology was required to create a robust platform to share information about clients in San Francisco’s Mission District.
That’s when Technology/Data Systems Manager Michelle Reiss-Top put her know-how into action, starting the momentum of an impactful strategy that is still unfolding. Reiss-Top knew that Exponent Partners offered a superior product that could be integrated into Salesforce. She also knew that Exponent Partners’ founder, Rem Hoffman, had a nonprofit background and had built his platform with community-based organizations in mind.
In March 2015, a customized data-sharing platform was launched. Since that time, 75 staff at 13 Mission Promise Neighborhood partner agencies have been given a license and been trained on how to use Salesforce as a referral tool – trainings spearheaded by Reiss-Top at MEDA’s Plaza Adelante and in the nonprofits’ offices.
Reiss-Top took her training strategies to the next level on Tuesday, being an integral part of a 60-minute Salesforce webinar called, “Managing Results for Human Services Agencies and Collective Impact: MEDA and Exponent Partners.”
Salesforce described this live event as follows:
“Human Services agencies are increasingly looking to work collaboratively with other organizations to tackle society’s most difficult challenges, through collective impact initiatives like the Promise Neighborhoods. In this live webinar, hear how Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) uses both Exponent Case Management and Salesforce Communities to bring together a network of agencies, community-based organizations and schools to help families in the Mission Promise Neighborhood thrive.”
First up was Jesse Maddex of Exponent Partners, who educated the audience of 150 via a high-level view of his company’s platform as a solution for nonprofits’ case management.
Maddex next introduced Reiss-Top to bring the product’s use to life – especially its use among a diverse community of organizations serving a targeted population. Maddex had asked her to join him because he deemed as unique the use case being implemented among Mission Promise Neighborhood partners. He also valued the scope of the project being undertaken.
After explaining how the shared database works, Reiss-Top answered some questions. The common theme was security concerns, especially as related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). These fears were allayed by Reiss-Top, as she explained that Salesforce is HIPAA compliant, plus users can build in higher levels of security into the platform, which she has done for the Mission Promise Neighborhood.
Reiss-Top also knows that sharing this model is important. She describes her being part of the webinar as follows: “We can use this technical solution to help staff take action on the data we collect from our clients. It highlights their needs and relieves the staff of the burden of searching through the data looking for clients, saving staff time and providing more meaningful interactions with clients.”
What are the next steps for the Mission Promise Neighborhood evaluation team?
Explains Lopez, “Mission Promise Neighborhood’s aim is to have partners become active users, consistently updating information so that this system is a living, breathing thing.”
The ultimate goal to “turn the data back to the community” was written in that original grant proposal for the Department of Education, and it is definitely achievable.
“Exponent Partners’ platform is the gateway of making the Salesforce database into a data sharing, management and collaboration tool!” concludes an optimistic Lopez.
Watch the Salesforce webinar.