For Felege Hiywot Center, it all started 19 years ago when a little girl approached the director, Aster Bekele, with a simple request—to grow a flower. From that moment, there was no turning back. Bekele, a professional chemist, became a plant scientist and started an urban farm on a 20×20 plot that would grow into something remarkable—a cherished, grant-winning center with multiple after-school programs, an orchard, and various plots of land. After three years of partnering with Felege Hiywot Center, we’re thrilled to share their unique success story.
First things first … What is Felege Hiywot Center?
When we say “urban farm,” you probably think about a lovely garden growing various vegetables, beans, flowers, and more, right? Definitely, but the Felege Hiywot Center is that and more. FHC offers students an opportunity to develop essential skills for a professional life. With the support of the leadership, students devise their own agriculture projects and engage in various related activities. The amount of required guidance—both from the leadership and the older students—depends on the grade level. By the time they reach 12th grade, FHC students have developed strong job skills, including the 18 employability skills required by the mayor’s office and most employers.
Transforming the Administrative Dynamic with AfterSchool HQ
In addition to all the fun and exciting times at FHC, administrative work must be done. If you’re a team member of an after-school program who has yet to partner with AfterSchool HQ, you know what this means. Endless hours of paperwork. Even more hours than the time you spend with your students and planning enriching experiences for them. Aster Bekele recalls how challenging it was to keep up with the administrative tasks. “Then, we introduced the AfterSchool HQ system, and everything changed for the better,” she shared during a webinar. Through AfterSchool HQ, parents can easily access and complete necessary paperwork online, ensuring that all required documents are in order before the next camp starts. “It has streamlined our operations significantly,” she added. Of all the management improvements, Aster Bekele highlights three of them:
1. Student Registration
AfterSchool HQ allows students to register through the platform, which not only reduces paperwork but also gives a clear picture of the available seats for the program. FHC currently has a usual capacity of 40 kids, and if necessary, they can create an effective waitlist.
2. Evaluations and Surveys
FHC creates their impact evaluations specific to what they’re teaching by tailoring their own questions not only for the program but also for the kids. If the team wants, they can design questions for each student based on their unique qualities—that’s how flexible our system is! This has resulted in students being involved with finding solutions, as well as keeping the FHC team and parents in the loop. Thankfully, AfterSchool HQ automatically connects to student records, ensuring that the program’s team knows which survey belongs to whom. Nowadays, FHC breaks down its impact into two categories—program impact and social impact—thanks to our platform’s user-friendly interface.
3. Data Analysis
Once all the answers are collected, AfterSchool HQ enables them to chart and document pre- and post-program data within the system. This is especially useful for grant applications and reports. For example, Bekele states, “we can analyze the number of students who participated and even pinpoint why some students didn’t attend.” Once reviewing the data, they clearly see where they are excelling and where they need to improve. “When we identify areas with lower performance, we can concentrate our efforts there,” says Bekele, and then they can translate it into action by focusing on specific areas each year. According to Bekele, grant committees appreciate this targeted approach, as it helps the program fine-tune its goals and outcomes every year.
Time Saving … and Grants
After implementing AfterSchool HQ, Felege Hiywot Center was able to easily tailor their surveys and collect their data, drastically reducing the amount of time dedicated to administrative tasks. FHC started to have more time on its hands, not only to improve the program, but also to search and apply for grants.
As a result, in April 2021, Felege Hiywot Center received a $2 million grant covering 5 years from Lilly Endowment Inc. through Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis. Because FHC included AfterSchool HQ in their grant proposal and provided concrete evidence of how they use the platform to deliver precise and valuable outcomes, the grant also pays for the use of the AfterSchool HQ platform. During the application process, FHC reached out to our customer support team looking for help on how to include the service, and we obliged by creating material that the writers included in the grant proposal. If you ever find yourself in the same situation, reach out too!
With the need to continuously write reports for the grant, our tracking system plays a “vital role” in demonstrating exactly what they’ve achieved, according to Bekele. “We can analyze data, such as the number of students who participated, and even pinpoint why some students didn’t attend.” Bekele says that the specificity of the data is what allows them to create a unique and detailed report—making their impact specific and unique. She emphasized, “When we presented this data in our $2 million grant report, they were thrilled!”
Even after a couple of years since receiving the grant, AfterSchool HQ’s platform continues to be a key resource for Felege Hiywot Center, from administrative management to grant reporting. If you’re up to the challenge of growing your organization’s impact, now’s your turn! Contact us.