Taking community development in Haiti from paper to the cloud

Hope on a String

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By Rachel Forst

More than six years after an earthquake devastated hundreds of thousands of families, community development organizations in Haiti continue to rebuild. In the wake of many shared challenges, one organization is providing a sense of hope through music and dance from the town of Arcahaie.

Hope on a String (HOAS) is a grassroots organization that works to engage and empower youth and communities in Haiti through the transformative power of music and performing arts. Since 2011, Hope on a String has enrolled more than 5,000 students in music theory, instrument instruction, performance, chorus, Haitian dance, theater classes, and other skill-building initiatives. With increased demand for their programs, Hope on a String sought a better way to collect and analyze its data. HOAS previously managed most of its data in Excel spreadsheets, making the process of tracking their reach and impact cumbersome and time-consuming. Vera worked with HOAS to design a Salesforce system to track registration and attendance, as well as student responses to program surveys with the aim of streamlining existing processes and helping to ease data collection and management.

Previously, it would have taken hours — or even days — for staff to answer questions like: “How many female students under 13 are taking music theory classes this semester?” They would have to sift through stacks of paper to locate student names and then reconcile those with names in an Excel spreadsheet. Now, HOAS has access to real-time dashboards, which monitor enrollment, attendance, and retention at both the individual and community level. Survey reports enable HOAS to analyze progress and program satisfaction from a student’s first class to her last class, in order to better understand how their programs are meeting the community’s needs: “This project will unlock powerful data that we can use to learn, grow, and share our impact,” said HOAS Co-Founder and Executive Director Bennett Rathbun. The system’s flexibility will allow it to scale as the organization grows, ensuring that larger numbers of students, classes, and sites can be tracked in the future.

Since implementing Salesforce this year, HOAS has already registered more than 1,000 new students in the cloud.

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