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Customer Stories: Christian Cain with Seattle Youth Garden Works

 

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We are always learning about the great work our users do. One of the most exciting parts is seeing how apps made with AppSheet are helping improve and grow our communities.

Seattle Youth Garden Works-- a program of Seattle Tilth –empowers homeless and underserved youth through urban farm-based education, job skills training and employment. The program, which runs a small urban farm in the University District and also farms at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, has youth ages 16-25 coming together to grow food to sell at local farmers markets; developing leadership skills and personal connections to the food system. Seattle Youth Garden Works is using their apps to simplify their program and improve the services they offer to Seattle’s youth.

Each spring, Seattle Youth Garden Works holds an eight-week working interview for youth who are experiencing barriers to conventional employment. During this trial period youth gain a lot of valuable knowledge and experience around organic agriculture, teamwork, and the basics of having a job. It’s a time for them to discover and cultivate new skills and to challenge themselves in new ways. Successful completion of the program leads to a job offer to participate in the year-round program, which includes field trips, classroom discussions, and cooking and nutrition education.

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At the beginning and end of the program crew members are asked to fill out a survey that asks questions about their current circumstances: whether they’re in school, employed, their housing situation, and nutrition practices.

Collecting Data on the Farm

Christian Cain is a Seattle Tilth Program Specialist working with Seattle Youth Garden Works who was tasked with updating the program’s evaluation system. Seattle Tilth wants to know what the youth are getting out of the program and track how they progress with greater life goals. Christian was looking for a way to automate the survey process when he found AppSheet in Google’s add-on store. He used AppSheet’s Google Forms add-on to turn Seattle Youth Garden Works’ intake survey into a mobile app.

In the past, the Seattle Youth Garden Works team used paper surveys to measure program goals. Christian and his colleagues had to keep track of the papers while on site, then manually transcribe the hand-written information onto the computer at a later time.

Christian reflected on his first implementation of AppSheet saying, “Like many great programs serving at-risk youth here in Seattle, Seattle Youth Garden Works is always looking to get the most we can out of our precious staff time. We saw AppSheet as way to ensure we are achieving our goals in the evaluation program by saving us time so we can focus on refining our program. This year, using AppSheet, we were able to capture info about the spring crew members, which we’ve never done before. It was great to have this information.”

Seattle Youth Garden Work’s new mobile app is already helping the organization cut down on lost time, resources, and effort. For one, having the ability to type information into a device eliminates the need for lugging papers and materials to and from the farm. And being able to work offline ensures data won’t be lost when it’s entered at the farm where service isn’t available. Once he’s back online, Christian just hits “Sync” and all student information is then sent back to the master spreadsheet. For Seattle Youth Garden Works, manual data entry is a thing of the past.

How the App Might Help Keep SYGW Running

In addition to streamlining on site activities, the app also carries compelling implications for the future of the Seattle Youth Garden Works program. Using data summaries, Christian and his colleagues are able to glean invaluable information about the program’s efficacy and a bird’s-eye view of what’s working or what may be lacking.

The information Christian is able to get from the apps will be incomparable when it comes time for fundraising and grant writing. He may now provide potential contributors with detailed program efficacy information, which will demonstrate its success and garner even more financial support.

He says, “With the app, we’re able to analyze better what the program is doing well; the bigger picture is being able to get information which will help us evolve our program to best serve youth. And also communicating more effectively with the outside world about the work we’re doing—that’s essential given the portion of our budget that comes from grants and donations.”

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Posted by Julia Guthrie on Jul 2, 2015 5:13:13 AM