"We had a shared vision from the start about how to use technology to best serve our students. Now, with Salesforce in place, we have a world-class platform that can bring together a variety of pieces of information and data points in a single place." - Curtiss Sarikey, Chief of Staff, Oakland Unified School District

Oakland Unified School District Drives Holistic Student Success with Salesforce

Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) mission and vision is to build a Full Service Community District focused on serving more than 36,000 students across 83 schools. In most school systems, there are a plethora of individuals who touch student lives. Coordinating those relationships to visualize and illuminate who each child is holistically is key to OUSD’s success. 

The district needed a technology solution to connect OUSD staff members in real-time to match students with critical services—from counseling to mental health, nutritional support, and more. OUSD worked hand in hand with Salesforce.org to build a student support solution that allows staff to improve the lives of students by: collaboratively triaging individual student needs; tracking student outcomes; and reducing the amount of time it takes to connect students with services. 

OUSD’s trailblazing work has been an invaluable partnership for Salesforce.org, informing its own product development for Student Success Hub for K-12 — an exciting new product designed to help schools deliver equitable and holistic support by connecting students with services they need to thrive.

OUSD’s Challenge: Matching Students with Services Quickly & Efficiently

OUSD is recognized as a community schools pioneer and leader, and has been held up as an example for schools across the country. As part of its community schools model, OUSD goes beyond educational instruction and provides wraparound services to help each student succeed—everything from counseling and mental health services to nutritional support and shelter. This model of supporting the whole child is particularly important in a school district where 33% of the students are English Language Learners and 71% are eligible for free and reduced price lunch.

“What’s important is that we’re getting the right services to the right students at the right time to operationalize equity,” says Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell.

The process for matching students with services had long been undertaken with whatever tools were available—from paper to online spreadsheets—but OUSD saw an opportunity to improve the system and eliminate the individual silos of information that these disparate processes created.

“From very early on in our community schools work, we had a vision of having a universal, single point-of-entry student record that would allow us to track what services and supports every student was receiving at every school,” says Curtiss Sarikey, Chief of Staff. “The challenge was figuring out how we could leverage technology to best realize this vision and better support student success.”

Solution: Expanding Usage of a Proven Platform, Salesforce

For several years, OUSD has been using the Salesforce platform as an asset management solution to track the location of nearly 5,000 valuable science kits within the district. It was only natural to build on that foundation and expand its usage of the platform.

“I think that school districts really are in need of modern, best-of-breed applications to manage procedures and information,” notes Susan Beltz, CTO. “In this respect, the Salesforce platform is pretty much everything you could ask for. It provides a secure, reliable, and up-to-date way for a variety of stakeholders to manage information. We definitely thought it would be a great fit for other strategic projects and use cases across the district.”

Using a combination of Salesforce products—including Salesforce.org Education Cloud for K-12, K-12 Architecture Kit, Salesforce CRM Licenses, and Salesforce Communities—OUSD worked hand in hand with Salesforce to start building solutions around driving student success.

How OUSD Implemented a Solution that Connects Students with the Services They Need to Thrive

One important piece of the overall student success solution has been a grants management and program management tool. OUSD manages a large after-school “Expanded Learning” program comprising 76 individual programs, managed by 17 independent agencies, and operated by over 300 partners. These programs are funded by federal, state, and local grants.

Salesforce enables OUSD staff to better manage all aspects of the service provider relationship.

“We now have one place to see which providers are offering specific programs and services, what contract they’re being paid under, and other crucial information,” says Andrea Bustamante, Executive Director of Community Schools Student Services. “This used to be a very paper-heavy process, and Salesforce has allowed us to almost entirely digitize it. We’re able to systematically track data points around our interactions with the service providers in a way that we weren’t easily able to before.”

After successfully developing this first piece, OUSD then focused its efforts on creating a solution that could more efficiently link these providers to students, to ensure no student falls through the cracks. The result has been a student support solution built on the Salesforce platform that’s used by the Coordination of Services Team (COST)—the individuals who coordinate school-wide efforts focused on making sure students are successful in school and life.

The student support solution allows OUSD staff to improve the lives of students by:

  • Collaboratively triaging individual student needs
  • Providing support services
  • Tracking student outcomes
  • Reducing the amount of time it takes to connect students with services

“Salesforce helps us move students through that referral process faster and facilitate more effective matches with the services they need,” says Bustamante. “Teachers can use the student support solution to enable referrals in just a few clicks and quickly get updates on where students are in the process.”

Having this capability streamlines the entire COST process by reducing paper and automating much of the previous manual tracking and follow up. Ultimately, this efficiency saves time, which means teachers can spend more time teaching and working directly with students.

Results: Empowered to Support Students Holistically

Utilizing Salesforce reports and dashboards, both the district office and respective school sites now have easy access to the health of the COST process and the students being served. Details around important success metrics—the number of students in COST, where they are in the process, and how long they’ve been waiting to receive services—are easily accessible.

In the student support solution’s initial rollout to five schools within OUSD, the district is starting to see results—94% of referrals have been reviewed and assigned to the next step for follow up. Additionally, 100% of referrals have a known referrer, compared to 60% at the schools not participating in the pilot. The solution is also helping OUSD ensure students are receiving services during school closures.

Feedback from staff has been overwhelmingly positive with many staff members commenting on how easy the technology is to use. According to Bustamante, “Teachers who have been using paper their whole lives have embraced online referrals.” 

She adds, “One of our COST coordinators asked all her teachers to convert to online referrals only, and she wasn’t sure how it would go over since some of the teachers were more confident with technology than others. She got 100% adoption, which I think speaks to how accessible the technology is and how convenient COST makes the referral process for our educators.”

Jaymie Lollie, a Community School Manager at Frick Impact Academy, says, “When constantly asked to do more with less, having a product that helps us leverage and maximize limited resources is exciting and necessary. It allows us to not only work smarter, but provide meaningful feedback that every staff member needs to support our students and families effectively and efficiently.”

“This Salesforce solution will make a huge impact on culture and climate across our school,” adds Nicole Pierce-Davis, Co-Principal at Skyline High School. “In the past, COST referrals would sometimes stall, making it challenging to keep our staff on the same page. Now there is two-way communication between COST and staff. Plus, our team now has greater insight into student needs to better support the whole child.”

Starting in school year 2020-21, OUSD rolled out the student support solution to every school in the district that is staffed with a Community School Manager, bringing the tool to nearly 50% of the district’s schools. The goal is to then expand the solution districtwide by the following school year.

Sarikey concludes, “We had a shared vision from the start about how to use technology to best serve our students. Now, with Salesforce in place, we have a world-class platform that can bring together a variety of pieces of information and data points in a single place. That aggregation paints as rich a picture as possible about the students we’re serving and the resources available to support them, so that we can best help them succeed. At the end of the day, that really gets to the heart of the community school.”

Looking to the Future: Salesforce.org Student Success Hub for K-12

OUSD’s trailblazing work with Salesforce isn’t just an inspiration to other schools that want to follow a community schools model; it has also been an invaluable partnership, informing Salesforce.org’s own product development for Student Success Hub for K-12 — an exciting new product designed to help schools deliver equitable and holistic support by connecting students with services they need to thrive.

“Leveraging Salesforce was 100% worth it,” says Bustamante. “We’re passionate about supporting our students, and we now have the technology to empower all the work we’re doing in our schools and across our communities. It’s been a great match, and we’re excited to see where things go next.”

Learn more about Student Success Hub for K-12. Learn More