Author Archives: Transform Consulting Group

Does Your Organization Have a Continuous Quality Improvement Process?

During a time where communities and policies are changing, it is important to ensure the programs and services within those communities are constantly evolving to meet the needs of families. The Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) model is an ongoing process for organizations to be able to determine whether or not a change made led to an improvement in quality. In order to move toward making the necessary improvements, a review of what occurred is conducted through a CQI process like the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle.

Steps to Complete a PDSA Cycleplan-act-do-study-cycle4

At Transform Consulting Group, we utilize this consistent approach when working with organizations to help them find solutions.

Plan:

Before beginning your PDSA cycle, identify the problem or issue you would like to address for quality improvement. The problem identified will guide your purpose for the review. Once you have decided what to focus on, consider the the following steps to plan to test your idea for change:

  • Define the goals
  • Define your research question(s)
  • Make predictions
  • Determine details for implementation of change or intervention
  • Plan of action for data collection

During this phase, we work with the client to thoughtfully plan to implement their new or current program/ service. So often, organizations jump immediately to step 2 – “Do” – without completing this critical first step. During the planning phase, we define what we hope to accomplish especially if we are proposing a change. Then we determine how the proposed change/ intervention will be implemented and work through all of the details. Lastly, we finalize how data will be collected.

Do:

This phase of the PDSA cycle requires you to conduct the test for the change or intervention. It is during this phase that you will complete the following tasks:

  • Carry out the intervention
  • Collect data
  • Begin data analysis

This step in the process is what most organizations know and are doing. Organizations are delivering interventions every day with their services. They might be intentionally or unintentionally modifying their intervention. The “Do” step in this process is not new to organizations. It is wrapping it around the other three steps that makes this work transformational!

Study:

The study phase of the cycle occurs after you have completed your intervention. You then analyze the data to study what did or did not occur. Organizations will want to review their predictions and assumptions before conducting the test. You will want to take the following steps during this phase of the cycle:

  • Complete data analysis
  • Compare data to predictions
  • Summarize the information

Organizations often skip over this step in the process or do not spend enough time thoughtfully reviewing the data. For some organizations, their data can be considered “high stakes” and there is a tendency to want to focus on the positive changes/ results that occurred and glance over the changes that did not occur or the benchmarks that were not met. During this phase, it is so important for an organization to be transparent and honest with themselves when reviewing the data.

Act:

Based on the summarized information, this last phase of the cycle allows you to determine what modifications may be needed to ensure that the goals you set will be met. Your organization may decide to modify a program element or change how a service is delivered; you may decide to target a different population or use a new curriculum. Once you have determined whether or not to adapt, adopt, or abandon your intervention, you will be prepared to do the following:

  • Plan next cycle
  • Decide whether the change can be implemented

During this last step, your organization takes all of the information gathered to make data-informed decisions that will ultimately improve your results. This is the exciting part of the process and one that you don’t want to skip. This step and the overall PDSA process will help your organization continue to improve the quality of services provided and impact in the community.

In this blog, “Is it time to redesign your program?”, we shared several examples of clients we helped use the PDSA process to test and implement new interventions/ modifications to improve their outcomes. The CQI process allows organizations to have a plan of action once a problem or service gap has been identified.

At Transform Consulting Group, we follow this consistent approach when helping you find solutions to accelerate your impact. If you are looking to improve the quality of a service or program to facilitate positive change, contact us today!

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Grant Opportunity: American Honda Foundation

AHF-LOGO-American-Honda-FoundationThe American Honda Foundation was established in 1984 by the American Honda Motor Company to celebrate it’s 25th anniversary of operation. Since it’s inception, the American Honda Foundation has given over $32 million to organizations across the United States. Eligible organizations must help to meet the needs of Americans in the areas of scientific and youth education.

The American Honda Foundation places a strong emphasis on youth education, and organizations wishing to apply should have a focus in at least one of the following seven fields of youth education:

  1. Science
  2. Technology
  3. Engineering
  4. Mathematics
  5. Environment
  6. Job Training
  7. Literacy

501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, public school districts and elementary schools are eligible to apply for American Honda Foundation grants. However, any organization must have at least two years of audited financial statements available. Interested applicants can apply online by first completing an eligibility quiz. Grants are accepted throughout the year in different quarters, for a schedule of due dates and reviews, visit the website.

Grants range from $20,000 to $75,000 over a one-year period, and can only be applied for one time within a twelve-month period. Any applicants that request less than $20,000 will not be considered for funding. Over the past five years, the American Honda Foundation has distributed approximately 27 grants per year.

Transform Consulting Group has helped organizations across the state of Indiana apply for local and nationwide grants. For help with your latest grant-writing project, contact us today for a free consultation!

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Federal Program Spotlight: AmeriCorps

acThis post is part of Transform Consulting Group’s blog series highlighting federal programs that provide education opportunities and/or youth development services in communities.

AmeriCorps is an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) that leverages community service to tackle critical community issues such as poverty, education, public safety, health, and the environment. AmeriCorps programs are located in nonprofits, schools, public agencies, community centers, and faith-based groups across the country.

AmeriCorps was created under President Bill Clinton through the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, incorporating Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). AmeriCorps just celebrated its 20th Anniversary, with over 900,000 Americans contributing to over 1 billion service hours. AmeriCorps VISTA also celebrated a recent anniversary, highlighting 50 years of volunteers serving to fight poverty across America.

AmeriCorps VISTA aims to combat poverty in local communities through capacity building. VISTA members commit to serving an agency for one year, working full-time on a specific project aimed at improving their organizational, financial, or administrative reach. Some examples include grant management, volunteer coordination, and food program design.

AmeriCorps VISTA differs from AmeriCorps State and NCCC service programs because VISTA members do not provide direct service. NCCC programs are available to citizens between the ages of 18 and 24, whereas AmeriCorps and VISTA only have a minimum age of 18 to serve.

AmeriCorps programs benefit nonprofits by providing service members that design, implement, and evaluate an organization’s programs to expand its impact. In addition, AmeriCorps programs provide citizens an opportunity to learn valuable work skills, earn money for education, and develop a greater appreciation for service. It is clear that AmeriCorps programs benefit organizations and service members alike.

Organizations may apply for a grant directly from the Corporation for National and Community Service if they are:

  • A national nonprofit organization that operates in two or more states
  • An Indian tribe
  • A consortia formed across two or more states, consisting of institutions of higher education or other nonprofits, including labor, faith-based, and other community organizations
  • A state or territory without a State Service Commission

Organizations may apply for a grant through the State Service Commission (i.e. Serve Indiana) if program activities take place in a single state and the organization is a:

  • State and local nonprofit organization
  • Community and faith-based organization
  • State, local, and higher education institution
  • State and local government
  • U.S. territory

Transform Consulting Group can help you plan and strategize how to use AmeriCorps resources to meet your organization’s goals, as well as help you write your next AmeriCorps grant application. Transform Consulting Group has successfully helped other organizations like the United Way of Central Indiana and Early Learning Indiana receive AmeriCorps funding. Contact us today for a free consultation!

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New Federal Grant: American Apprenticeship Grant Program

UntitledThe U.S. Department of Labor has recently announced the winners of a new grant program that awarded $175 million to 46 public-private business partnerships in September of 2015. The American Apprenticeship Grant Program was created with the intent of increasing the development of apprenticeship programs across the United States.

Grant-winners have pledged to hire over 34,000 apprentices in leading-edge industries such as healthcare, IT, and advanced manufacturing. The 34,000 apprentices must be hired and trained within five years. To make this happen, the American Apprenticeship Grant Program aims to achieve the following goals:

  • Launch apprenticeship models in new, high-growth fields to equip workers with advanced skills like data analysis, mechatronics, and behavioral health assessment.
  • Align apprenticeships to pathways for further learning and career advancement such as embedding industry-recognized skill certifications or rewarding workplace learning with college credit.
  • Scale apprenticeship models that work to create more access to apprenticeships in more areas of the country, to more diverse populations.

The American Apprenticeship Grant Program will create more opportunities for hard-working Americans to acquire the skills they need to succeed in good jobs that are available now. Click here for a list of programs underway in cities and states across the country.

Transform Consulting Group applauds this initiative to strengthen the American workforce through on-the-job learning. Transform Consulting Group has experience helping organizations submit successful college and career-readiness program grant applications. Let Transform Consulting Group help your organization fund with federal dollars today!

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America’s College Promise Initiative

o-GRADUATION-facebook

This year, President Obama has unveiled a program to help combat the rising college costs for students across the nation, America’s College Promise Initiative. America’s College Promise Initiative would allow responsible students to go to a community college for two-years, free of charge.

It is estimated that by 2020, approximately 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree. The 1,100 community colleges across the nation give an affordable education at convenient locations for students, making it easier to go to college.

America’s College Promise Initiative will create federal-state partnerships to give students access to a college education. Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the cost of tuition, while state funds are expected to pay the remaining one-quarter cost. If every state participates, approximately 9 million students would benefit from this plan.

To participate in the initiative, students will have to complete the following requirements:

  • Attend community college at least half-time
  • Maintain a 2.5 GPA, while making progress towards completing a degree

Participating community colleges must offer credits that can be transferred to a four-year university or college, giving students the ability to complete a four-year degree; or offer occupational training programs with high graduation rates. The occupational training programs must lead to high demand degrees and certificates.

Transform Consulting Group applauds programs that give students a chance to further their education. Transform Consulting Group has experience helping organizations across the state prepare students for success in college and beyond. Contact us today for a free consultation!

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5 Ways to Use Your Program Evaluation Data

Your organization or school has spent a significant amount of time, money and resources on collecting, tracking and analyzing important data about your programs and services. In working with our clients, we often find that many are not doing a good job of sharing this information beyond the traditional annual report. Here are some simple, yet effective ways to use your program evaluation data:

  1. Annual Report – At a minimum, you should annually produce a report that summarizes your organization’s impact in the community. However, we strongly encourage you to rethink your traditional annual report. Check out these olds posts (here and here) for some inspiration!
  2. Email – The signature line in your staff’s email is a great communication tool. Think of all of the collective emails that your staff send out daily, weekly and yearly and the potential reach of those emails. Use the signature line to highlight key successes, which can be updated monthly. For example, if you operate a tutoring program this quick line could be added to all staff signature: “85% of participating students in ABC program increased their reading level by 3 months during our five week summer program.”
  3. Social Media – Similar to creating “data sound bites” in your email signature, similar data posts can be created for your organization’s social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. Just make sure to limit your jargon and make the post user-friendly.
  4. Collateral Materials – Too often, organization’s marketing materials focus on the services and programs (what you do) and not the result of those services and programs (aka, your outcomes!). Refresh your marketing materials to include both of these critical items – the programs offered and the impact that these programs have in the community!
  5. Grants and Fundraising – One of the best ways to increase an organization’s revenue and funding is to share the results with your funders via grant proposals, grant reports and fundraising events. The evaluation data can be useful to both highlight the great work you are doing (aka – give us more money to expand our impact) as well as justify the need for more money (aka – we need better staffing, curriculum, etc. to accomplish our goals).

Transform Consulting Group is passionate about helping organizations get clear on their mission and goals as well as have the right tools and systems in place to monitor the accomplishment of your goals. Do you need help evaluating your programs or communicating your impact? Contact us today for a free consultation!

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Grant Opportunity with KaBOOM! Playground

kaboom -playground-5-8-10 webChildhood obesity rates have tripled since 1980 and stayed the same for the past ten years. The average child spends nearly 75 hours a week immersed in various forms of media. With fewer children playing outside and a rise of childhood obesity, many organizations are taking steps to change this trajectory.

KaBOOM! is working to partner with communities to make active play space available for youth across the country. Through the development of playgrounds, KABOOM! is working to bring the importance of play to the forefront. KaBOOM! offers a number of grant opportunities for organizations wishing to begin or modify a playground project. KABOOM has three grant categories:

  1. Build it with KaBOOM! Grants: Provides planning grants to design your playground and funding to then transform the space. The grantee will be provided with a Project Manager, funds, resources and tools to assist community officials in designing and building a playground that is unique to the community.
  2. Build it Yourself Grants: Offers $15,000 grants to help community organizations purchase playground equipment and complete the assembling process on their own with remote assistance from KaBOOM!.
  3. Creative Play Grants: Enhances existing play spaces through creativity, communication and collaboration in play.

Each KaBOOM! grant has a set of requirements that must be met before the applicant can apply. For further information on grant requirements, review the grant application guide. For information on additional playground grants, check out these resources that KaBOOM! highlights on their website.

Transform Consulting Group assists organizations with assessing their current funding and identifying new revenue opportunities. To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation!

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New Report on the Status of Young Children in Indiana

Indiana’s Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) has submitted its 2015 report of findings to Governor Mike Pence and the state’s Legislative Council. As previously discussed (in this blog post), ELAC was created in the 2013 legislative session with a mandate to provide a comprehensive progress report by June 30th of each year.

ELAC’s vision focuses on ensuring that children ages birth to 8 years and their families have access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education programs that keep children healthy, safe and learning.

The report includes a Needs Assessment section where the following key items are noted:

  • Indiana has approximately 500,000 children five years old and younger;
  • Nearly half (47%) of Hoosier families with children ages 0-5 are in poverty;
  • The majority (66%) of Indiana’s families are working and require child care;
  • Only 11% of Hoosier children are enrolled in high-quality, program-based care;
  • For a family of three living in poverty, having one child in quality care would cost more than a third of their annual income; and
  • The 2020 projected demand for early childhood education teachers outpaces the current supply.

The report also includes the following important information: 2014 Accomplishments, Recommendations, and an Appendix. In the Appendix, there are several tables with detailed demographic information at the county level.

Transform Consulting Group was honored to partner with ELAC in helping them gather the information and write the annual report.

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Fighting the Summer “Learning Loss”

kids-learningFor many children, summer is a time of fun and a break from school. However, summer can also lead to “learning loss” for many students. Studies show students score lower on standardized tests after summer than they do before. It is also reported that students lose approximately two months in math computational skills over summer vacation. Several organizations and schools are working to prevent summer learning loss by taking advantage of the summer months to extend students’ learning and ensure that they start school ready to learn! By participating in unique summer learning programs, students develop new skills, explore interests and get hands-on experience.

When designing summer programing, organizations should consider and address many issues, but the five most important are listed below:

  1. What: What will the summer program consist of? Programs vary from creative-writing programs to language-immersion classes; what is your organization passionate about and how can this learning opportunity show that?
  2. Where: Where will this summer learning program occur? If it’s a program that teaches students about microbiology, have it in a biology lab! If it is a program teaching students about creative writing, perhaps a computer lab or library would be most beneficial.
  3. Why: Why should students and parents pick your summer learning program versus another? Be sure to establish the added benefits that your program offers and highlight these in all marketing materials.
  4. Who: Who will be the target audience for your summer learning program? By picking an age group, it will be easier to establish a beneficial curriculum and structure your program. For example, a program for elementary students should look very different than for high school students.
  5. How: Finally, how will this summer learning program be implemented? This is the “nuts and bolts,” of the summer learning program. What is the duration of the program? Who are the staff and what training do they need? What are the recruitment efforts? Who are community partners to help deliver the program?

Today, summer programs are truly taking advantage of the coveted summer months to build in learning through play. As a result, more and more students are able to have a fun summer through various enrichment experiences that help them explore their interests and ensure that they are on track to start the school year ready to learn.

If your organization is looking to implement or modify your summer learning program, contact Transform Consulting Group today. We can help you assess your current program, review the latest research, and design or retool your summer program.

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Grant Funding Opportunity with David and Lucile Packard Foundation

thumbnail-early-learning

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation focuses on “improving the lives of children, enabling the creative pursuit of science, advancing reproductive health, and conserving and restoring the earth’s natural systems.” Since 1964 the Foundation has helped programs and people across the nation through four program areas:

  1. Conservation and Science
  2. Population and Reproductive Health
  3. Children, Families and Community
  4. Local Grant-making

One of the programs, the Children, Families and Community Program awards grants to organizations that support the following three causes:

  1. Early Learning Provides support to adults caring for children through investing in training for caregivers and educators and providing resources to parents and families.
  2. Children’s Health: Funds state-based child advocacy programs, national organizations and, at times, local organizations that demonstrate best practices in improving child and parent health outcomes.
  3. After-school and Summer Enrichment:Supports high-quality after-school and summer enrichment programs.

It is the goal of the Children, Families and Community Program to improve outcomes for children across the United States and ensure that every child gets a strong start in life.

Organizations eligible to apply for grants supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation vary but must meet one of the three cause areas. Applications are accepted at different time periods throughout the year. Visit their grants database to get an idea of previous recipients who have been funded. Available grants range from $15,000-$200,000+ in award amounts.

Transform Consulting Group assists organizations to both increase and diversify their funding to support their mission. To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation!

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