SEI skilled volunteer team conducted an assessment of current data management systems at Digi-Bridge and assisted them with selecting a new program management software.
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Digi-Bridge sparks interest and passion in STEAM to K-8 leaders in Mecklenburg County through high quality afterschool programs in partnership with public and charter Title 1 schools. In these programs, scholars have the opportunity to explore, tinker, build, and immerse themselves in diverse STEAM topics. Digi-Bridge employs teachers at the school to deliver their programming. This allows them to grow their capacity for teaching STEAM educational principles and build deep relationships with students across the school community. Digi-Bridge creates their own content series called Digi-Bins, built in partnership with industry professionals to ensure access to hands-on, real-world, and relevant learning materials.
In 2014, Digi-Bridge was founded and started with STEAM Saturdays in 5 schools and 3 middle school robotics teams. Today, they have evolved to a full suite of STEAM programming in coordination with Title 1 and community schools. They are place-based within a school increasing family empowerment, college career readiness, and supporting schools in technology improvement. Their programming and reach have continued to grow– in 2023, they have 29 STEAMLab School Partners and 10 Robotics School Partners.
Digi-Bridge came to Apparo, because they were tracking programmatic (enrollment, attendance, school partners, and curriculum) metrics and impact (donor, volunteer, student confidence and student knowledge) metrics manually on Google spreadsheets or paper logs. Every metric was put into a document by a staff member, evaluated by a staff member, and remained with that staff member’s files. Digi-Bridge requested a skilled volunteer team to identify a comprehensive CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool to help track program, volunteerism, and impact short-term and long-term outputs and outcomes toward their mission of advancing students in STEAM.
Program Software Selection
As their second G.A.I.N. project, Digi-Bridge was paired with SEI volunteers to assess their current state and understand the high-level processes and applications used to identify potential gaps and pain points. With the support of their G.A.I.N. Mentor and Change Agent, volunteers documented the needs of the organization, researched, identified options, scheduled demos, and then ultimately chose a program. As a result of this assessment, the volunteers and nonprofit participants determined they needed a program management software instead of a CRM and ultimately selected AfterSchool21.
Volunteers and Nonprofit Participants
- Nonprofit Team: Digi-Bridge
- Alyssa Sharpe
- Volunteer Team: SEI
- Lee Pierce
- Chris Saca
- Katie Halligan
- Change Agent: Parris Smallwood, SEI
- G.A.I.N. Mentor: Brad Richmond, Duke Energy
With the implementation of AfterSchool21, Digi-Bridge anticipates a significant times savings of 180 hours per year. Previously, the team spent a lot of time manually compiling data. The new program management software will automate this process and store the data in a centralized location. The nonprofit also anticipates reducing the risk associated with manual data-entry.
They also anticipate the program will make it easier for teachers to take attendance and register new students. Previously, this was a manual process, and the new system will automate it making it more seamless. With their times savings, Digi-Bridge will be able to focus on curriculum, expanding programs, teacher connections, and school visits.
Words of Appreciation
After the wrap up of the project, we spoke with Alyssa Sharpe of Digi-Bridge. Alyssa credited the SEI team for recognizing the need for a program management software instead of a CRM. She indicated Parris Smallwood, SEI’s Change Agent, did a lot of “behind the scenes negotiations” to make the price affordable for their nonprofit–something she felt she and Banks would not have been able to do on their own.
“SEI has been amazing to work with. Working with the SEI volunteers has been my favorite experience on an Apparo project so far! It feels great to have picked the product, vetted it out, and be certain about its positive impact on our organization. We are so grateful. Thank you so much,” Alyssa Sharpe of Digi-Bridge shared.
The SEI volunteers also shared their thoughts about the nonprofit and this project.
“It has been an honor to work with the Digi-Bridge team to assist in the selection of a SaaS tool that will support the amazing work they’re accomplishing with teachers and students in their out-of-school programs. It is immediately apparent when working with the Digi-Bridge team how passionate and engaged they are with their programs and communities. I look forward to seeing them continue to expand their programs in and around the Charlotte area,” Katie Halligan said.
“It’s easy to see why Digi-Bridge is so successful in sparking students’ interest in STEAM learning. Digi-Bridge’s leaders are every bit as curious, creative, and persistent as the students themselves. I’m incredibly grateful our team had the opportunity to partner with Digi-Bridge in their pursuit of generational STEAM enrichment. I’m hopeful some of Digi-Bridge’s scholars will stay in North Carolina for the long term, and perhaps, one day join us here at SEI-Charlotte,” The Change Agent, Parris Smallwood shared.
In conclusion, the project successfully helped Digi-Bridge find a solution to more efficiently store their data. As a result of this project, they will be able to focus more on what matters: their mission of bringing the love of STEAM to children in the Charlotte area.