The Suder Foundation’s First Scholars program needed to streamline communication between students and program staff and real-time assessment of the program’s success metrics.

Organization:

The Suder Foundation and their First Scholars program works to dramatically improve the graduation rate of first-generation college students and prepare each scholar for a life with self-awareness, success, and significance. First Scholars is a structured program with affiliate programs at six universities across the country.

Challenge:

The Suder Foundation needed a system to manage the interactions between The Suder Foundation, individual student Scholars, and University administration and act as a hub collecting program evaluation data.

Solution:

The Suder Foundation came to Swift River with an existing Salesforce instance which they felt was overly complicated and not meeting their needs. Swift River managed a second phase of development which refined and adjusted their instance to align with their everyday operations.

  • To measure program effectiveness, Suder and their campus coordinators needed a grade tracking system that was flexible enough for staff housed within six universities that each had different data collection methods and rules for course credits. Swift River collaborated with the campus coordinators to create a more sophisticated and accurate system that was simple enough for the non-techie campus coordinators to use without being overwhelmed.
  • Swift River was a driving force behind Suder’s hard work to improve every aspect of their data quality — and it has paid off. Our consulting team took the time to understand the nuance, collaborate with Suder’s data collection consultant, and hone in on the numbers that mattered. We re-aligned the systems to focus only on accurate and important program evaluation criteria, so that staff were not bogged down in ineffective systems and double data entry.
  • Suder’s distributed campus coordinators don’t report directly to the foundation and had competing priorities at their own universities. The foundation’s previous in-house Salesforce administrator was “losing the battle for the on campus staff’s time.” Ultimately, the Suder Foundation found that Swift River could provide a more flexible, cost-effective, and impactful staffing solution for both customization work and ongoing training. In addition to streamlining their Salesforce system, our dedicated consultant was able to adapt to the different learning styles of the Campus Coordinators and work with them one-on-one as necessary to help them be more effective users.
  • Swift River collaborated with Code Science to build a scheduling tool for First Scholars program campus coordinators and students by integrating LinkPoint360 and Salesforce. It simplifies the First Scholars on-campus advising programs – the folks who use it love it.
Benefits:
  • Working alongside Career & Educational Consulting Services we honed Suder’s system for managing performance criteria to evaluate and ultimately validate the First Scholars program. Suder now has intentional, data-minded selection criteria as the basis for its proven metrics and a streamlined system for tracking them across multiple universities.
  • Suder now has an integrated platform for comparing progress of the program to their affiliated universities’ first-generation student populations and first-time, full-time student populations. Well beyond waiting 4-6 years for actual academic and retention progress data to assess success, the Salesforce data evaluation system is able to provide data to enhance and improve the First Scholars program in real time. That data analysis tool allows for comparison of Suder’s First Scholars student’s performance, persistence, and graduation rates compared to a variety of peer control groups.
  • The comprehensive data allows the First Scholars program to enhance communication about program staff silos within each university’s admissions, advising, student aid and fund development departments and elevate the profile of the First Scholars program as a student retention and graduation tool.
  • Overall, the Suder Foundation and the First Scholars program are now much more nimble and responsive to the needs of the campus staff as the program develops. This has allowed the program to scale effectively and successfully award more than 1,600 annual scholarships of $5,000 each across and directly serve over 600 student Scholars as of Fall 2016.
“We found Swift River after a transition from another Salesforce consulting firm and I wish that we had worked with Swift River from the beginning. Kristina and Meghan really took the time to learn our business and how we operate. They’ve been competent, reliable, and dedicated. The Suder Foundation and our First Scholars program wouldn’t be as effective or able to deliver and measure the results of our First Scholars program without the Swift River team.”
Diane Schorr, Executive Director