Talent + Innovation: Grace Outreach

The Challenge

Grace Outreach works with women in the Bronx and upper Manhattan to further their educational goals and gain financial independence through their three programs – high school equivalency, college and career programs. They wanted to be able bring in more students and experiment with new ways to recruit and retain. Outreach for their high school equivalency and college programs in particular was proving increasingly challenging. Grace Outreach applied to the CRE Rising Fund to help fill their programs and ensure that the programs were optimized to best meet the needs of the women they serve.

What We Did

CRE consultants used a variety of innovation techniques to address the challenge, including program immersion, journey mapping, and rapid prototyping, as well as conducting staff and participant focus groups. After collecting key program data, we experienced the programs first-hand, attending orientation day to observe the participants’ experiences. Using our observations in combination with information from participant focus groups, we mapped out program strengths and points of disengagement from the perspective of a potential participant using journey mapping. Lastly, we ran ideation sessions with staff, developing a list of priority changes and prototyping these solutions.

Impact

Based on our work with the Grace Outreach team, CRE developed a comprehensive list of potential solutions, including prioritization and potential prototypes to help Grace Outreach staff more easily implement the changes. These recommendations include enhancing Grace Outreach’s online presence, training staff on motivational interviewing, ensuring students’ exposure to all programs, supporting student’s psycho-emotional needs, and conducting exit interviews with graduating students. In addition, staff were trained on innovation methodologies which they can use to address other challenges that may arise. The changes the Grace Outreach team made have resulted in creating engaging and fresh marketing materials, a more open interview and feedback process from participants, and a seamless and expedited orientation day.

Grace Outreach staff knew we needed to change our marketing approach and intake processes. Community Resource Exchange helped us articulate what we needed and guided us to both immediate and longer-term change. Our time with them was a great team building exercise and led to pilots that our staff were excited to implement.

- Danae McLeod, Associate Executive Director, Grace Outreach