DreamWakers is a national education non-profit that connects children with professional role models and opportunities. DreamWakers partners with 4th to 12th-grade classrooms at rural and systemically under-resourced schools and educational programming across the US and provide a virtual connection with role models from diverse backgrounds. Through their work, DreamWakers is focused on closing the opportunity gap for students and helping connect them with professional role models. By cultivating these relationships, the aim is to inspire the next generation and provide different perspectives on what is truly possible when classrooms are future-forward.
A multitude of spreadsheets and documents stored all of DreamWakers’ data, and it was becoming harder to sort and filter information as needed. In addition, it meant that information constantly required to be entered manually, taking up a lot of time, but it wasn’t easy to locate either.
For example, DreamWakers was being inundated with requests for partnerships with educators, but coordinating its logistics became increasingly challenging. Because the non-profit focused on matching role models with schools, a significant amount of time was spent going through spreadsheets to find the right fit. Even after sorting through contacts, all of the scheduling was done in spreadsheets, with emails being copied and pasted to keep communication in one place.
Ultimately, manual data entry and multiple spreadsheets led to working with poor quality data, inevitably slowing them down. The foundation of a system was there within all the spreadsheets, but it just didn’t serve the organization’s needs, so it could work efficiently and grow.
“We’d also be trying to report, and we had all these metrics we were trying to capture, and we’d be doing it all manually. It was really hard to paint a picture of what we were doing because the data was in different places […] we were probably using like eight different documents.” – Jillian Scott, Executive Director of DreamWakers
DreamWakers knew it was time to shift the system into something that could serve their organization better, but it wasn’t easy figuring out what that solution would need to look like. Getting a custom CRM set up for contact management would have been one option, but it was also incredibly costly and time-consuming. The other option was to design an Airtable workflow themselves, but the design element hindered the process. Moreover, there was a great need to ensure that the database design on Airtable could grow with them, and they didn’t feel confident doing that on their own.
After meeting with a few different vendors, DreamWakers decided to work with AirOps Consulting due to their previous experience in non-profits, their flexible way of working, and their willingness to work together to build their Airtable solution. DreamWakers liked that they could be involved in the building process, and the team felt empowered enough to collaborate on the process.
“One of the things that spoke to us [about AirOps Consulting] was the flexible way of working, we wanted ownership of building out the Airtable […] The combination of not just doing the database design and developer work but empowering us to do so when it was appropriate was exactly what we needed.” Jillian Scott, Executive Director of DreamWakers
AirOps Consulting first decided to understand the challenges with the current system. The next step was to understand what kind of impact the possible solution could have, i.e., what were the must-haves to make it truly work for DreamWakers. Some of the priorities that emerged were eliminating manual work, improving data integrity, and ensuring the solution would grow with them.
AirOps Consulting then focused on creating an Airtable database that fits these needs while also incorporating Airtable workflow automation where possible. Bringing together design and automation was a vital part of the process, as it wasn’t enough to just design the database. It also needed to eliminate the manual processes slowing the team down while taking their needs into account. Balancing team needs with expertise, AirOps Consulting built a solution for DreamWakers that gave them better oversight into their data and more control over quality.
One of the most time-consuming processes for DreamWakers was matching up educators and professional role models. Before Airtable, it was a manual process that involved consulting multiple spreadsheets. However, with custom filters and sorting options, a 30-minute process took just 3 minutes.
Data governance and accuracy
The new Airtable database puts everything in one place without worrying about manual data entry errors and accuracy. DreamWakers now had all their data in one place, mapped out as needed to ensure they could access the information quickly required for reporting on impact. Instead of a complex spreadsheet system, Airtable consulting led to a solution that was far more robust and easy to scale.
Airtable workflow automation
To reduce the chances of errors in data collection and entry, AirOps designed workflow automations to capture incoming data quickly and easily – with little manual intervention needed. This included an automation to capture survey information and feed data directly into the database. Another automation included scheduling and donation tracking to centralize crucial data and save time.
“The efficiencies, the time-savings are so significant that it feels impossible to quantify. We would not be where we are now in terms of scale if we did not have this solution in place because we were so inhibited by the manual work. Jillian Scott, Executive Director of DreamWakers
Experience Working with AirOps Consulting
For DreamWakers, AirOps Consulting came in as expert collaborators and showed them the potential of what they could do with their data. The resulting Airtable solution designed by AirOps Consulting saved more time than the organization had ever thought of while setting them up for success as it grew and scaled. Alongside the efforts to save time while creating efficient automation, there was also a great sense of collaboration and empowerment. The solution designed by AirOps Consulting is not a one-off database but a system that grows as the organization evolves.
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