Girls Who Code Drives Student and Educator Engagement with Salesforce and AWS

Executive Summary

Salesforce, an AWS Public Sector Partner, is helping Girls Who Code centralize program data, enable faster reporting, and drive better student and educator engagement. Girls Who Code leveraged the data it holds in Salesforce to create an AWS-powered data hub that runs on Amazon EC2, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon S3.

Seeking to Democratize Data

Girls Who Code (GWC) is a nonprofit organization that is seeking to close the gender gap in technology and computer science. The organization strives to increase the number of women working in IT by giving young women the skills they need to become computer scientists and engineers.

GWC stores most of its data about donors, students, and instructors in Salesforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. For example, Salesforce collects information from the organization’s learning management platform (HQ), which manages courses, activities, programs, and materials for teachers and students and shows how students are progressing. Girls Who Code also collects end of program evaluation data from its students, instructors, and parents through another standalone survey tool showing what parts of the program participants liked or disliked and if participating in the program has an impact on their interest in a career in computer science. To gain better data insights, GWC needed to find a more efficient way of creating analytical reports, and it sought to centralize data from disparate sources. “We had to manually aggregate diverse data to build static reports that could be visualized in our business intelligence tools,” says Feargus Leggett, chief financial officer at Girls Who Code. “A data analyst could spend up to 40 hours cleaning the data and making sure it was ready for analysis. We wanted to eliminate that time and make the data easily accessible for all staff members across the organization, without them needing to know developer languages to query it.”

To solve the problem, GWC needed to build a new data warehouse to enable employees to query historical data and gain actionable insights from updated data. “For instance, we wanted to help our curriculum team easily access data so they could design the most effective learning units for each age group,” Leggett says.

AWS and Salesforce Team Up to Create Cloud Data Hub

GWC looked to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for assistance in creating a new data warehouse solution. “Our HQ platform already runs on AWS, and we knew we could count on AWS to also provide reliable backend technology for our new data solution,” says Leggett. GWC was also encouraged by the fact that Salesforce is an AWS Partner. “The partnership made our decision easier because we knew the integration would be strong between Salesforce and AWS,” Leggett continues.

GWC worked with AWS and Salesforce to create a data hub that uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances to run a data extract, transform, and load (ETL) process and deliver data to Tableau visualization software. The solution uses Amazon Redshift to store data from Salesforce and several other data sources, and it relies on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for staged and archived data.

Using the new data hub, GWC end users such as the research and analytics team can access and visualize dashboards in Tableau that show updated information on current students and programs. The organization’s alumni team uses the data hub to analyze alumni engagement data, and GWC’s program leadership team uses the solution to gauge how well current programs are performing.

“Using the data hub on AWS gives our program leadership team a 360-degree view of how our programs are performing, which helps them debrief quickly after each program cycle.”

-  Feargus Leggett, Chief Financial Officer, Girls Who Code

Providing a 360-Degree View of Programs

Using the data hub, GWC employees now have a centralized place for viewing data on all organizational programs. “Girls Who Code is using Salesforce as its system of engagement, and now the organization can layer data on top of that to gain a better view of all programs,” says Kai Lou, director of strategic partnerships at Salesforce. “This gives employees better, deeper insights into organizational data from both Salesforce and other applications.”

For example, the organization’s alumni team can use the data hub to quickly identify alumni who could potentially become GWC ambassadors. In addition, GWC’s program leadership team can view performance across different program offerings at a glance. “Using the data hub on AWS gives our program leadership team a 360-degree view of how our programs are performing, which helps them debrief quickly after each program cycle,” says Leggett. “As an example, the team needs to see how our summer immersion program went and what feedback students have. Our team can not only see that data, but they can also see the attrition rate, which is important in terms of knowing how many spots to offer in next year’s program.”

Delivering Faster Reporting

GWC can now create and deliver reports faster because it no longer relies on manual processes to prepare data. “We have real-time, dynamic data coming in through the data hub, so we can do our reporting weekly and not just annually,” says Leggett. “We can quickly find out which alumni are attending workshops or opening emails, for instance. This will help us optimize our fundraising campaigns because if a one-time donor responds well to a campaign, we can possibly turn them into a recurring donor by optimizing our efforts.”

Driving Better Program Engagement

By accessing real-time data in a centralized solution, GWC staff can ultimately use data insights to drive better program engagement for students and instructors. “We provide the curriculum for after-school club programs run by schools, libraries, and community centers, and we can use the data hub to learn about the level of engagement students have with the curriculum and our technology,” Leggett says. “By finding out this information, we can see if students and educators are excited about new materials or if new platform features are leading them to submit more projects, and then we can change things if we want to increase engagement.”

Next, GWC plans to use the data hub to better support fundraising initiatives. “Our donor management system has thousands of small donors, and that is a missed opportunity in terms of engagement,” concludes Leggett. “We will be focusing on improving that in 2022, and we are confident that the AWS and Salesforce data hub will help us do that.”

Girls Who Code

About Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code is an international nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology, and leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip students who identify as girls or nonbinary with the computing skills needed to pursue 21st century opportunities. Since launching in 2012, Girls Who Code has reached 450,000 girls through its in-person and virtual programming and has nearly 90,000 college-aged alumni.

About Salesforce

Salesforce, based in San Francisco, California, is a cloud-based software company that provides a leading customer relationship management platform and enterprise applications focused on customer service, marketing automation, analytics, and application development.

Published March 2022