Changes Made for a Better Future

Organization Name
Northwest Youth Services
Mission Statement

Northwest Youth Services keeps youth safe, heals family relationships, reconnects youth to the community and promotes self-reliance.

City & State
Question 1
The Before: What was the challenge, issue or problem your organization was facing? Or, what was the opportunity you were not able to take advantage of before you put a technology solution in place?

Answer: Northwest Youth Services (NWYS) has been offering essential services to runaway and homeless youth for more than 34 years. It is well known that the youth of our communities are far more advanced regarding technology than even one generation before them. This has been a constant issue in regards to engagement of young people living on the street. Often they use computers at school or libraries to communicate with each other and necessary services. NWYS was not available where the youth were. Our problems revolved around our skill level with this type of communication, our outdated software, and our ancient technological policies. Additionally, our Development Committee was not using any technological communication techniques from event to event causing us to have to "reinvent the wheel" each event; or dig through old files and binders to complete the fundraising events.

Question 2
What Microsoft software have you used/are you using in your organization to more effectively engage your beneficiaries, donors and/or volunteers and/or to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Windows Live
Other: Microsoft Windows 2004

Question 3
The After: How have these Microsoft products allowed you to engage your stakeholders more efficiently or effectively to make a difference in your community?

Answer: NWYS recognized that without this technological boost we were doing a disservice to our communities’ youth. We worked within our current system to encourage staff to communicate with youth via email and social media. We participated in social media trainings and engaged the young people to assist in our website design, and our MySpace page. NWYS' server currently runs Microsoft Windows XP. The computers were updated to Microsoft Office 2004. Allowing staff to work at a more efficient pace and communicate with the youth in the way they are most comfortable. The Development Committee's leap into technology, we were able to share, edit and add new documents using Windows Live. This technology decreased frustration from Board Members, and made better use of their time, talent and skills.

Question 4
What about these products (the features or the way you used them) made them particularly helpful in enabling your organization to expand and improve upon its community impact?

Answer: The updates have increased the speeds of the computers, allowing NWYS staff team to get more done quicker. The ability to get stakeholders feedback using these technologies has enabled NWYS to adjust quickly and learn about what our community wants from us and what the youth need. Having these tools available has encouraged graduated youth to stay in touch with the agency by continuing to offer suggestions, providing updates or request knowledge about community resources. Due to our use of social media and Website updates our community is more aware of NWYS and the services we offer, which is essential in our ability to maintain the homeless programs we offer.

Question 5
Please provide any examples, stories or data that illustrate the difference the use of Microsoft software has enabled you to make (i.e., # of new clients reached, new program added, increased dollars raised, increased volunteers, etc.

Answer: Since using Social Media as a form of communication NWYS has been able to provide technology based aftercare services to six graduated youth in 2010. These youth may not have reached out without this media available. NWYS has also been able to provide its community with a forum to talk about youth homelessness in 2010, allowing us to communicate with more than 20 new community members. As previously mentioned NWYS was able to have three of its most successful fundraisers in late 2009 and 2010. These events were publicized using technological tools to communicate with the community and with our current supporters. Our attendance was stronger in years past and our profits from these events were increased by more than $40,000.

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