Friday, March 28, 2014

VisionLink Supports the National Academy Foundation’s Work-Based Learning Fellows

Members of the NAF WBL Fellows 2014
The National Academy Foundation (NAF) is a leader in preparing high school students for college and career success. For 30 years, NAF has refined a proven educational model that includes industry-focused curricula, work-based learning experiences, and business partner expertise across the five career themes of Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, Engineering, and Health Sciences.

VisionLink’s Strategic Advantage department supported the kick-off of the 2014 cohort of NAF Work-Based Learning (WBL) Fellows. The NAF WBL Fellows initiative, with academy leaders from North Carolina, Louisiana, New York, Nevada, Texas, and California, fostered sharing of expertise among leaders in order to deepen their practice, and co-create effective WBL tools and strategies to help the larger NAF network ensure that all students are prepared for college and careers.

In addition to this week’s Innovation Lab, the Fellows will have further opportunities to demonstrate effective WBL strategies at NAF’s annual conference, NAF Next, in July and at a fall 2014 Work-Based Learning Institute coordinated and produced by VisionLink’s Lois Ann Porter. The WBL Fellows program facilitates outstanding professional growth for NAF educators and leaders as they work closely with Fellows and partners to analyse, fine-tune, and share proven work-based learning practices.

For more information about NAF, visit naf.org.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A CommunityOS Hidden Gem: The Data Provider Tool

It’s always a delight to run across a product feature that surprises me, even after years of work. The Data Provider Tool is one such hidden gem. The Data Provider Tool allows an administrator to tag a group of resources outside of the normal agencies or portal restriction filters. Internally, we use data providers to organize large imports and feeds of data across multiple customers. Here are three unconventional ways you might use this tool to make resource administration easier.
Flagging groups of data
This tool can be used to tag all the resources from a resource helper tool import. Typically, you might search by date to find these resources again, but searches by date may not always be accurate. Instead, the data provider itself can be a tag, such as “March 2014 Import,” which provides a handy way for an administrator to later pull these resources up in a search to further review or manipulate them.

Locking Resources
All resources under a particular Data Provider can be locked, preventing resource administrators from accidentally editing them. This might be important for internal resources with costs, or for a core set of resources that shouldn’t be changed often. 

Displaying Logos
The Data Provider Tool also allows you to upload a logo that is then displayed on the profile, so all related resources can be visually linked. As a simple example, all your Thanksgiving resources could be highlighted by tagging them with a Turkey icon, helping you keep your related work organized.

Knowledge is power. Contact solutions@visionlink.org to learn more about the CommunityOS features and what they could do for you.

Craig Quincy
VP of Engineering
VisionLink

Monday, March 17, 2014

CommunityOS Software for Nonprofits at The Nonprofit Technology Conference!

VisionLinkers Jamie and Gigi returned last Friday from exhibiting at the Nonprofit Technology Conference held in Washington, DC!  For those of you who haven't heard of the Nonprofit Technology Network's annual conference, it is a gathering of nonprofits from around the globe who meet once a year to talk about the latest and greatest in technology, tools, and software for nonprofits. When asked about the event, Gigi states, "it is always fun seeing how nonprofits are using technology to further their missions - tech really can be a powerful tool for doing anything from raising awareness to providing aid."

While at the conference, Jamie and Gigi informed attendees about our CommunityOS Software for Nonprofits, hosted a VisionLink Scavenger Hunt, and met lots of great people doing lots of great things for their communities. Here are a few pictures from the conference:

Gigi hides a VisionLink Scavenger Hunt clue in a nearby fern.
Jamie points out VisionLink's Name on the Exhibitor List!
VisionLink Scavenger Hunt pieces hidden at the conference.

Thanks to everyone who participated at the conference and to the Nonprofit Technology Network for hosting a great event. Until next time Nonprofit Technology Conference!



VisionLink

Thursday, March 13, 2014

VisionLink’s Strategic Advantage Department Produces Complete College America’s National STEM Careers Academy

"Between 1970 and 2009, undergraduate enrollment in the United States more than doubled, while the completion rate has been virtually unchanged. We’ve made progress in giving students from all backgrounds access to college – but we haven’t finished the all-important job of helping them achieve a degree. Counting the success of all students is an essential first step. And then we must move with urgency to reinvent American higher education to meet the needs of the new majority of students on our campuses, delicately balancing the jobs they need with the education they desire.” CompleteCollege.org

With funding from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Complete College America (CCA) is working to dramatically increase the number of college students obtaining high-demand STEM degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). To meet this challenge, CCA is partnering with state departments of education, governors, legislators, and education policy organizations including Education First, USA Funds, and Education Delivery Institute. Looking to significantly impact college completion rates across their network of states, CCA once again called on VisionLink’s Strategic Advantage department to produce their National STEM Careers Academy.

This Academy, the 13th Completion Academy produced for CCA by VisionLink’s Strategic Advantage department over the past five years, included teams from Massachusetts, Idaho, Illinois, Ohio, and the District of Columbia. Producing an Academy involves working with CCA on all aspects of the Academy from initial planning through implementation and evaluation. Practitioners, national experts, and facilitators were trained, coordinated and supported during the Academy by VisionLink’s Lois Ann Porter. 

If you are working with multiple organizations to address a common imperative and achieve significant results, contact VisionLink’s Strategic Advantage department to discuss this successful strategy and how it might address your needs.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Community Solutions: Just What the Doctor Ordered!

Last year, 11,000 hospital and clinic patients received prescriptions for food and heat, along with scripts for their medicines. These patients were treated at health facilities that partner with Health Leads, a nonprofit organization that enables healthcare providers to prescribe basic resources along with medicine or referrals to specialists.  

How does it work? As part of the health screening process, the healthcare teams also screen for basic needs such as food, housing and heat.  If the patient’s basic needs are not being met, they are given a prescription and sent to a Health Leads Advocate who fills the prescription by connecting the patient to the basic resources they need to get and stay healthy. The Advocates are college students who are recruited, trained and placed by Health Leads.  They have access to resources, case management and reporting tools, some of which are integrated with the hospital information systems. 

We know that it takes more to live a long and healthy life than just being blessed with healthy genetics.  We need access to basic resources: food, basic education, safe housing, utilities and comprehensive medical care. Many Americans are forced to choose which resources to live without, leading to even worse health problems that impact all aspects of their lives. For many, an illness leads to a cascading series of events that can include job loss, financial problems, poor childcare, family dysfunction and more serious illnesses.

By ensuring that patients have access to these basic needs, Health Leads provides much better overall patient outcomes, saving the medical system time and resources while providing quality health care. Connecting the work of its Advocates to existing hospital information systems ensures that everyone’s resources are deployed efficiently, keeping all partners on the same page. This meshes with our philosophy of using integrated systems to help nonprofits manage clients, coordinate assets and resources, communicate well with partners and build reports. Integration can lead to this success and, in the case of Health Leads, to healthier patients. I look forward to sharing more examples of innovative programs that tap into I&R services. 

Lori Warrens
Senior Director of Community Solutions