Category Archives: News

Working Remotely & How to Make it a Reality

What’s your dream job? Does it entail having a flexible schedule and ability to work WHEREVER? That dream is not uncommon which is nudging more and more organizations towards allowing employees to work remotely.  

Recent statistics show 50% of the United States workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency. However, 80% to 90% of the workforce says they would like toTransform (74) telework at least part time.

At Transform Consulting Group, our team gets the best of both worlds. Staff can work remotely or at the office. Since a lot of our work is meeting on-site with clients, we already found ourselves working outside the office.  Staff enjoy collaborating when necessary, but also love the freedom of working at home. We see many benefits in this structure and we’re not the only ones!

Benefits of working remotely:
  • Employees who can choose to work remotely are more satisfied.
    • 2/3 of people report that they WANT to work from home.
    • 36 percent would choose the opportunity to work remote over a pay raise.
  • Working remotely increases employee productivity.
    • 30 percent of employees accomplish more in less time when working remotely.
    • 23 percent are willing to work longer hours than they normally would on-site to accomplish more.
    • 52 percent are less likely to take time off when working remotely. 
  • Working remotely saves money.
    • If a typical business allowed their employees to work remotely just half the time, they would save an average of $11,000 annually in reduced overhead.
    • When your employees are happier, they stay in their positions longer. An average company loses $10,000-$30,000 for each employee who quits.
    • Employees can also save money in reduced transportation and wardrobe costs.

Working remotely isn’t realistic for everyone. However, for those of you who think you may be interested in jumping on this bandwagon, here are some resources our team recommends.  There are many resources Blog-Remote Workersavailable to support teleworking.  These tools and resources have been effective for our team:

  • Reliable computer, high speed internet services and mobile phone
  • Online Email Communication Platform
    • We use Google at TCG, so employees can access their email anywhere.
  • Online file share and access for team collaboration
    • There are many “cloud” storage systems.  Our team uses Google Drive, and we highly recommend you have an external hard drive or server to regularly back-up files.
  • Project Management System
    • We use Asana to assign tasks, track our team’s work and manage projects. This keeps everyone on the same page.  
  • Phone System
    • We use RingCentral for internal and external communications.
  • Time Tracking Software
    • At TCG, we utilize Harvest which is especially useful when allocating staff time for projects and billing purposes.
  • Video Conferencing
    • While our team doesn’t regularly utilize the variety of resources available, we have used Go To Meeting; WebEx, etc. when corresponding with clients.
  • Clear Communication and Expectations
    • Clear understanding of work schedules and when staff is “on” and “off” the clock, so the team knows when everyone is available.
    • Have regular check-in calls and in-person meetings to review tasks and projects.
  • Team Bonding
    • While employees do enjoy the flexibility and freedom of working independently, they still want to feel connected to each other and the organization. Therefore, it is helpful to schedule in-person group activities whether it is annual, quarterly or monthly.

At Transform Consulting Group, we want to accelerate your impact and that often starts by creating an empowering work environment for OUR team so that we are better equipped to serve yours.  For a full list of our services click here and let us know your thoughts or recommendations regarding working remotely!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  We were not asked to highlight any of the listed resources and only share our own opinions.

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How to Gain Media Attention with a Compelling Press Release

At Transform Consulting Group, we are honored to serve many clients who are working hard to make a difference in the lives of children, families and their communities. While we partner with them on behind the scenes work (see our services here), we also want to help them promote the good work that they do. A press release can be the quickest and easiest way to get FREE publicity and raise awareness about your cause or nonprofit.

You should not be the best kept secret in town.  If the community is unaware of your great services and impact, then your efforts will fall short every time. We often encourage our clients to share their mission by writing a press release that can lead to media coverage, future leads, dollars, etc.C1aQDIiVQAACKa6.jpg-large

The reality is that reporters and news editors are sifting through hundreds (yes, hundreds) of press releases and very few will make the cut for the 6pm news or front page. Keeping that in mind, here are some rules to make sure you’re capturing their attention when you write your next press release:

  1. Have a newsworthy story. YOU may think a program, service or event is really great, but what is the impact beyond your organization or the clients you serve? Why would anyone else care? While composing your press release, make sure you are communicating that your story is newsworthy. It needs to appeal to everyone who is tuning in to that TV station or picking up the newspaper.
  1. Make it timely. Timing is everything, and you can definitely use this to your advantage. Keep up with national news and maybe you can put your own local spin on something that people are already talking about. For example, if you want to get the word out about free student programs, connect your press release with the back-to-school conversation.    
  1. Write like a reporter. Notice how the reporters deliver their stories next time you turn on your local news. You’ll probably hear how many of the stories they read have a very conversational feel to them—and so should your press release. Avoid fancy words, business jargon, technical terms, or formal statements that no one uses in real conversation. Write like you talk.
  1. Make it personal. Think about the news stories that capture YOUR attention. Usually, it will be the story with a face. You can ramble on and on in a press release about how your organization is offering this new program for free to this many people, but what really appeals to the viewer is if you put a face to the cause. In your press release, quote a single mother whose life is changed because of your program or a college student who against all odds graduated with honors through your college readiness program. Those are the true stories; so tell them!
  1. Offer a complete package. There are several elements needed for a reporter to successfully tell a story. First, they need people to interview. It is helpful to have an official “voice” who can be the spokesperson at your organization or person heading up the program. This interview will cover the facts about the story, but you need to provide a personal voice as well. The personal interview may include a client or family who is benefitting from your program. Along with the interviews, any newspaper or TV reporter will need some sort of visual. Make it easy for them to take photos or get video that helps tell the story. If they can’t cover the story in person, then offer to send them photos yourself. It may require more planning on your part, but if it means positive publicity, then it is worth it. Have all these elements ready to present when you pitch your story to the news.
  1.  Follow up. In addition to sending a press release and having the right elements, you need to make follow up calls to media outlets. We recommend sending a press release at least one week before your event and then send it again on the day of the event, followed by a personal call. Compile a list of emails from all the newspapers, TV stations and radio stations in your area and then continue to add to the list as you make connections. Reach out separately to any contacts you’ve worked with on past stories. If you hand a story over to a reporter with all the elements in place, who can turn you down?  

HG DisplayAs we previously mentioned (here), we are honored to manage the Indiana Heart Gallery for the Indiana Department of Child Services. The Heart Gallery is a traveling photo exhibit featuring children in foster care who are available for adoption. It’s a great, heart-touching story, right? BUT if we don’t adequately promote the display and get the word out, then all of our efforts are wasted. People have to KNOW we are bringing the gallery to their community, and we use the media to help get the word out.

You’ll often see stories about foster care and adoption in the news, which tells us we aren’t the only ones who view 16403080_10154891081438954_8143934484048982860_othis as a compelling, newsworthy story. However, it can be challenging to make this story timely as this is a year-round project, so we have to get creative. For example, we displayed the Heart Gallery at the South Bend Airport during March and April and tied it in with Spring Break travelers. We are constantly reworking our releases to be easy to read and understandable. While our display literally puts a face to the story, we also call on volunteer photographers or parents who have adopted foster children to be interviewed and provide a unique element to the story.

At Transform Consulting Group, we want to help tell the story of your cause. Contact us today for a free consultation!

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America’s College Promise Initiative

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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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Grant Funding Opportunity with David and Lucile Packard Foundation

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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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Transformational Organization Spotlight: Jump IN to Hoosier Health

jumpinChildhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. To help combat these alarming statistics, many organizations, companies, families, and individuals are sounding the alarm for healthier options and public policy changes. Jump IN for Healthy Kids, formed by a coalition of Central Indiana community and business leaders, has one ambitious goal in mind: to have a 12% reduction in childhood obesity rate by 2025.

To accomplish this goal, Jump IN has three main strategies to help empower children and their families:

  1. Increasing access to healthier foods, and encouraging consumption
  2. Increasing physical activity
  3. Embracing healthy habits

These three strategies are spread across eight focus areas, which work together to better a child’s health and welfare:

  • Clinician Training: training physicians;
  • Communication and Public Awareness: educating the community;
  • Community-Based Pilots: providing health resources;
  • Data and Analytics: measuring and collecting data;
  • Employer Wellness: partnering with employers;
  • Nutrition: increasing access to health foods;
  • Physical Activity: connecting with community organizations and schools;
  • Public Policy: advocating policy changes.

Jump IN wants to give families and children accessible opportunities, such as incorporating activity into the work or school day, to make healthy choices in healthy environments. Through exciting community initiatives, such as partnering with early childhood education programs to provide meaningful physical activity for preschoolers, Jump IN hopes to change the course of childhood obesity in Central Indiana.

Jump IN has looked to other community initiatives across the nation, such as the state of Mississippi, which has cut the percentage of elementary school students who were classified as overweight or obese from 43 percent to 37.7 percent in only six years. Jump IN looks to programs like this to determine successful initiatives, and advocates for them here in Indiana, such as nutrition standards and health education. Jump IN can be visited online for more information and opportunities, and can be followed on Facebook or Twitter

Transform Consulting Group applauds the leadership of JumpIN to make a positive difference for children and families in Central Indiana.

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Online Toolkit for Early Childhood Donors

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 3.40.14 PMThe Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania has released web-based version of Invest in a Strong Start: An Early Childhood Toolkit for Donors. For individuals and organizations interested in supporting early childhood education, the toolkit provides key facts, strategies for investment, high impact opportunities and key partners you should know.

As an extension of an ongoing partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the toolkit was created by a team that reviewed over 50 pieces of major research reports and policy analyses, collaborated with national networks, and interviewed experts and leaders in the early childhood field.

The expanded and updated toolkit includes the following components:

  • Funder Briefs: Background information and resources of early childhood topics such as strong starts for young children and harmful chemical exposure.
  • Blog Interviews: Interviews with field experts
  • Strategies for Investing: Information for donors regarding stakeholders and important background information.
  • Return on Investment Profile: Information on what programs to support, the benefits and how to invest.

Transform Consulting Group works to stay current with the latest research to inform its clients and align services to “what works”. For more information on the latest research in your industry, contact us today.

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New Online Family Engagement Inventory Tool

diverse-familyFamily engagement is recognized as a foundation for children’s success across the human services and education fields. The Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the Family Engagement Inventory (FEI) to assist professionals in child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, early education, and education to access current family engagement strategies and resources across these fields of practice.

The definition of Family Engagement changes between each field of practice.

  • Behavioral Health: Focuses on getting families and providers to effectively communicate information, needs, values, and attitudes that are necessary to develop a beneficial alliance for the child.
  • Child Welfare: Engagement is family-centered and strength-based; Involves helping families set and achieve goals and make important decisions.
  • Early Childhood Education: Engagement involves ongoing, goal-directed relationships that are based heavily in communication and honesty.
  • Education: Engagement includes interactions with schools and meaningful communication between parents and the academic institution.
  • Juvenile Justice: Involves equipping families to have influence and impact on the programs, systems, policies, and practices affecting these services for children and their families.

Other family engagement information available on the interactive FEI website includes:

  • Summary of research about the benefits of family engagement by field of practice;
  • Family engagement strategies at the practice, program and system level;
  • Summary of family engagement practices that have been validated and evaluated; and
  • Family engagement resources to useful information and websites that provide additional literature about processes, methods, and programs.

Transform Consulting Group works to stay current with the latest news, research and information that supports the goals of our clients. If your organization would like to improve its engagement of families, contact us today for a free consultation!

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New State of Preschool Report Released

preschool reportThe National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has released The State of Preschool 2014 report. The newest edition of this annual report profiles state-funded prekindergarten programs throughout the United States, as well as documenting growth. The annual preschool report helps track and understand progress across states and the nation.

National Highlights in this year’s State of Preschool report includes:

  • State funding for Pre-K programs increased by nearly $120 million in 2013-2014.
  • In 2013-2014, 29% of America’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded Pre-K program.
  • After a loss of 4,000 seats in 2012-2013, student enrollment increased by 8,535 in 2013-2014.
  • Pre-K quality standards improved in 2013-2014.

The annual report is divided into three sections:

  1. The first section describes trends in Pre-K enrollment, quality standards, and spending.
  2. The second section includes detailed state profiles. Profile pages are also included for states without state-funded programs.
  3. The last section of the report contains appendices with tables that provide the complete 2013-2014 survey data obtained from every state, as well as Head Start, child care, U.S. Census, and special education data.

Other information highlighted in the report includes early learning standards, a resource break-down, and benchmark requirements per state. For the 2013-2014 school year, Indiana did not have a state-funded preschool program, per criteria outlined in the full report. However, Indiana will transition out of one of the ten states without a state funded Pre-K program for next year’s 2014 – 2015 annual report with the Early Education Matching Grant program (EEMG) and On My Way Pre-K (OMY)!

Transform Consulting Group has been working with the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning (OECOSL) to support the implementation of these new Pre-K programs in Indiana. Contact us today to learn how Transform Consulting Group can help implement your organization’s programs to make a deeper impact in your community. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

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Protecting Students, and Holding College Programs Accountable

blogStudents pursuing education beyond high school have several different paths to choose: attend a trade school, community college, baccalaureate program, or for-profit institution – all of which can either be public, private non-profit or for-profit. Unfortunately, student outcomes and costs vary tremendously depending on the path pursued.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, attending community college is one-fourth the cost of attending two-years at a for-profit institution. This causes 80 percent of students attending for-profit institutions to borrow, while less than 50 percent of students at public institutions have to borrow.

The Obama Administration has announced new regulations that will go into affect on July 1, 2015 to help improve outcomes for students and also protect them from massive amounts of debts. These new regulations will hold colleges accountable as they prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” If colleges are unable to meet these standards, then they will lose access to federal student aid.

The new regulations consider “gainful employment,” to be when a student’s loan payment does not exceed 8 percent of his/her total earnings, or 20 percent of his/her discretionary income. These regulations are geared to meet the following goals:

  • Provide transparency about student success
  • Improve student outcomes
  • Increase accountability standards

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 1,400 programs will not meet the new accountability standards. Without the financial aid, it will become increasingly difficult for students to afford career training programs and thus pursue attending these programs.

Transform Consulting Group works to stay current with the latest research and policies that impact our clients along the cradle to career continuum. Contact us today for a free consultation about how to align your programs and services with this current information!

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Transformational Organization Spotlight: Wabash County Promise

wabashThe Wabash County YMCA is “planting seeds of hope,” in its youth through a new initiative: Wabash County Promise. Wabash County Promise is a community-wide initiative to promote college and career readiness in students in grades K-12.

The initiative includes four key college and career ready components:

  1. Educational Savings: At school registration, families enroll in a CollegeChoice529 college savings account and may receive help in doing so. Students with a college savings account are more likely to enroll in and complete college.
  2. College & Career Discovery: All students participate in college and career discovery in the classroom throughout the month of September. In the younger grades this includes lessons such as: “What do I want to be when I grow up,” and “Who are the champions in my life who will help support me along the way?”
  3. Walk into My Future: “College Go Week” in September provides college visits for students in Grades K-3 to Manchester University to participate in hands-on activities, experience a college campus and participate in a mall walk that symbolizes walking into the future.
  4. Engaging Champions: Students are encouraged to identify champions in their life who will encourage them and contribute financially to their college savings account. Students in grades K-4 who raise at least $25 receive a matching gift of $75 for their college accounts.

In the first year of the Wabash County Promise:

  • Over 1,600 youth visited the campus of Manchester University for the “Walk into My Future Event.”
  • 9 out of 10 teachers observed increases in students’ hope for their futures.
  • Parental awareness of 529 plans increased from 41% to 82%.
  • Students with 529 accounts in grades K-3 increased from 6% to over 72%.

Transform Consulting Group applauds the community of Wabash County to work together in facilitating college and career readiness in all of its youth. Transform Consulting Group supports college and career readiness programs in having clear outcomes and tracking progress on the attainment of their post-secondary education goals. Contact us or visit our website to learn more!

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