Association House of Chicago
For 120 years, Association House of Chicago has pursued its mission to serve a multi-cultural community through comprehensive, collaborative and effective programs in both English and Spanish. We promote health and wellness and create opportunities for educational and economic advancement.
Association House is known, and trusted, as a community resource in Humboldt Park, and attracts community members most in need of services. AHC primarily serves low-income, minority residents. Of participants served, last year, 15% were youths 21 years old or younger, 71% were adults, ages 22-64, and 13% were seniors, ages 65 and older. Last year, 54% of participants identified as Latino/a, 37% identified as African American, and 6% identified as white. 48% of participants identified as female, and 52% identified as male. 24% of participants reported that their dominant/preferred language is Spanish.
AHC directly serves more than 5,000 community members, each year, through more than 30 direct-service programs that address both participants’ immediate needs and long-term goals. Programs are organized in 4 broad service divisions:
1) Association House High School: serves 140 youths, ages 16-21, who were dropped or otherwise excluded from the Chicago Public School system. AHHS offers students a second chance to earn their high school diplomas, in a welcoming and supportive environment. AHHS provides academic and social supports to encourage students to achieve their long-term goals.
2) Community Health & Workforce Development: fosters the human potential and comprehensive wellbeing of community members of all ages. Services include: food, basic needs and income support; digital literacy and technology education; workforce training; job placement and retention services; work attire; financial literacy education; HIV education and prevention services; physical health, nutrition and fitness education; and Youth Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health First Aid Trainings.
3) Child Welfare Services: A licensed provider of services, and the only bilingual foster care provider in the community, AHC works with families to create safe homes for youth within the custody of DCFS. Services include child advocacy, parenting education, home visitation, therapy and case management.
4) Behavioral Health Services: meet participants’ emotional, social, educational, developmental support and primary care needs, through preventative, treatment, and educational services, including: mental, physical and psychiatric healthcare, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and specialized care for persons with developmental disabilities.
AHC offers comprehensive wrap-around services to individuals in the community. Our unique program offerings provide a holistic approach for the individuals we serve, ensuring we meet their complex needs. With more than 31 programs, many participants access services across all four of our service areas. However, without a central intake system, record keeping proved challenging. The introduction of a centralized Salesforce intake system will help to better manage data at an organization level and create a clearer picture of exactly how our participants are impacted. Also because of the lack of a central participant database, pulling data pertaining to demographics is challenging and time-consuming.
AHC received support from Salesforce to migrate our decentralized intake system into a more coordinated and effective CRM. AHC has received 10 free licenses, as wells as pro-bono support from Salesforce for this initiative. AHC is a large organization and requires approximately 50 user licenses, in order to best utilize the database. These licenses will grant database access to various AHC staff members and will: help program staff enter client information, assist Performance and Quality Improvement staff in evaluating collected data, and support Development staff in reporting relevant data to funders. Funding from First Nonprofit Foundation supported the purchase of an additional 40 licenses.
This capacity-building project has a significant impact internally and externally. Internally, the project creates a more efficient process for capturing data for the organization, resulting in more accurate data and reporting.
By creating a more efficient intake process, case managers benefit by having increased staff time to focus on our participants. Our small IT staff will have more time to troubleshoot other IS needs, rather than compiling data from multiple spreadsheets for reporting purposes. Additionally, the Development Department and Performance and Quality Improvement departments will be able to access more accurate demographic and utilization data.
Externally, the Development Department will be able to better utilize data for fundraising and marketing purposes. This will allow us to better show our impact through simple and effective infographics. We will leverage this to continue to diversify our funding base to increase our impact in the community.
This project would not have been possible without the generous in-kind, pro-bono and financial support of our donors. Through these partnerships, we are able to create a custom database that is unique to the needs of our organization. As a large social service agency with 180+ employees serving 5,000+ community members, a customized database is not necessarily a unique solution, however, the funding model for this costly project was unique.
This project will make a significant difference by enabling AHC to create a more streamlined and efficient process for client intake, freeing staff time to be able to serve more individuals. Additionally, the centralized database will allow AHC to more accurately and efficiently pull data as it relates to demographics and utilization.
There are multiple benefits to this project, including the following:
- More uniform client intake process among divisions
- Access to more complete client information for case managers to better serve participants
- Improved process for pulling demographic information
- More efficiently access participant and organization data for reporting
- Improved data integrity
We are excited to report that with the help of a pro-bono consultant from Salesforce, our database infrastructure was completed in early 2019. The IS staff has begun the process of migrating our current data into the database. The first step in this process was training staff to clean up their individual intake spreadsheets. IS completed trainings for each division on this matter in March 2019. Once the data has been validated, IS will begin the process of importing data into the existing database. IS will also begin training selected staff on how to utilize the database, with our goal launch date for full implementation July 2019.
Success of the capacity-building project is based on measuring progress against our initial project timetable.
The financial support from First Nonprofit Foundation, along with pro-bono consulting support, and in-kind support from Salesforce has enabled AHC to launch this initiative. Going forward, the costs of licenses will be built into our annual budget.
Multiple components of this project could be replicated for similar social service agencies – including the database, rollout, implementation, and funding model.