Pencils of Promise
Data Collected From Around the World Fuels Digital Transformation
Pencils of Promise (PoP) builds primary school classrooms in partnership with public school systems and communities in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos, to give students a safe and healthy place to learn. Since the construction of its first school in 2009, its work has evolved to include teacher support programs, student scholarships for secondary education, and a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) program.
Besides using Salesforce solutions to manage its donors and power fundraising efforts, PoP collects vast amounts of program outcome and student learning data through its custom Impact App. Use of the app has increased communication and collaboration between teams on four continents. Leaders fine-tune their programs based on rapid analysis of real-time data. And graphic visualizations showcasing program impact have helped PoP cultivate strong relationships with donors and foundations, to fund its educational mission.
1,200+needs assessments completed in rural communities
589classroom blocks constructed
235K+students & teachers have benefitted from programs
Collecting Data from International Teams in Rural Communities
This nonprofit began working with Salesforce in 2012, using the constituent relationship management tool (CRM) for its fundraising campaigns and marketing. Within a few years, PoP was building custom applications to streamline its human resources processes and integrating Salesforce with its website. Queries that came in through the site were managed as cases using Service Cloud. Branded web pages — built with Classy — invited supporters to run their own online fundraisers on behalf of PoP.
Eventually, Salesforce was being used across every department except the Impact team — the largest department of all, which was collecting data in 37 different forms, across three continents, in three different languages.
The organization, based in New York City, needed a way to track information on both simple outputs (such as the number of schools built and scholarships provided) and more complex outcomes including student test scores, attendance rates, and pass rates. This system needed to be user-friendly for the international teams capturing data on-site in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos, often in rural communities without internet access. It also needed to deliver clear visualizations and actionable insights to leadership and supporters in the United States.
Salesforce helps us keep track of the communities, schools, programs, teachers, and students we work with. Also, it is easy to see our impact numbers through dashboards.” Vivi Perez, Learning & Evaluation Manager in GuatemalaPencils of Promise
Building a Custom App that Syncs with Salesforce
PoP designed a custom app to track all its program data by working backwards — figuring out what teams wanted from their dashboards, reports, and records, in that order. Starting with desired data visualizations allowed the team to understand the different buckets that they needed their reports broken into. Then they planned what the summary fields should look like on an actual record, in addition to who would use that record and what they needed to see.
PoP’s Salesforce-integrated app tracks communities, schools, build projects, students, scholarships, attendance records, and more. All of this data rolls up into country profile pages, which aggregate data points that feed directly to the PoP website in real time. Workflows and automations have been set up to notify teams of new build proposals or dropping attendance rates.
Before construction begins on a new school, PoP works alongside ministries of education and community leaders to identify locations that are a good fit for the program. Team members travel to these rural communities and conduct needs assessments on tablets through offline-capable digital forms on the Impact App. The information syncs with Salesforce once the device is back on a network connection. This upload initiates a customized workflow that triggers the creation of various information pages (records) that link all data associated with individual communities (for example, classroom builds or teacher support).
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Better Outcomes and Stronger Relationships, Powered by Real-Time Data
The Impact App has transformed how PoP operates. Tableau dashboards provide a real-time view of the state of work being done in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos. This has been invaluable not only to the nonprofit’s leaders in the U.S. but also teams on the ground. Cross-team communication has flourished; team members use Chatter to congratulate each other, share stories, and collaborate on projects.
PoP has become a more data-driven organization. Thanks to the Tableau Viz Lightning web component, visualizations are rendered on relevant Salesforce pages. CRM Analytics and the Rollup Helper app support rapid analysis of current impact data. Student learning outcomes are analyzed at the end of a school year, and a new iteration of a program can be delivered before school starts again. PoP uses the Impact App to manage the distribution of thousands of e-readers loaded with books to schools, tracking where each e-reader is assigned and how many need to be repaired or replaced.
Real-time visualizations on the PoP website and its Tableau data hub communicate the nonprofit’s impact to donors, foundations, and the general public — which grows PoP’s resources and capacity to bring education to children around the world. To date, PoP has built nearly 600 schools, with more than 119,000 students currently enrolled.
“As PoP’s programs continue to scale, the established partnership with Salesforce will form deeper roots and yield industry-leading innovations in the decades to come,” said Christopher Stanfill, Managing Director, Strategic Initiatives. “Knowledge-building is society’s true equalizer, and the intersection of data and education has never been more important.”
About Pencils of Promise
Pencils of Promise (PoP) works to create high-quality learning environments in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos, where students, teachers, and community members can reach their full potential. Founded as a school-building organization in 2008, this 501(c)(3) nonprofit has evolved into a learning organization focused on quality education outcomes.