Like many African-American men and boys from Rancho Cordova, California, OK (Our Kids) Program alumnus Marlow Rockwell had limited opportunities for personal success and growth.
Lacking resources and positive role models, Rockwell fell into a life of crime during his teen years. That’s when the OK Program helped him to turn things around.
Image Credit: OK Program
“I was at the point where I was tired of running the streets and engaging in some of the crimes we had done. It just wasn’t me anymore,” Rockwell said, referring to a time when his participation in the OK Program made him rethink his path in life.
OK Program founder Donald Northcross, who started the OK Program while working as a Deputy Sheriff in Sacramento County, connected with Rockwell through the program.
Image Credit: OK Program
Northcross saw African-American males entering the criminal justice system and becoming the victims of homicides at alarming rates. So, he created the OK Program in hopes that it would bridge the gap between law enforcement and African-American men and boys.
Since its inception in 1990, the program has connected at-risk community members with volunteer mentors with a single focus in mind. That focus is to “reduce the homicides and incarcerations of black males through a mentoring program that develops their leadership capacity, critical thinking skills, and promotes academic excellence,” according to OK Program.
OK Program nationwide expansion
More than 30 years after Northcross originally laid the groundwork for the OK Program, the organization now spans five cities. The OK Program is working to strategically expand into communities with high populations of at-risk African-American men and boys.
These strategic nationwide expansion plans led to the 100,000 Strong National African-American Male Mentor Initiative. 100,000 Strong is an initiative OK Program is spearheading to enlist new mentors in communities where they can make the greatest impact on the populations they serve.
While the OK Program has seen great success leading to the ambitious initiative and other special programs, the organization faces operational challenges that make it difficult to achieve ambitious goals.
Video Credit: OK Program
Preparing the OK Program for growth
Like many nonprofit organizations, the OK Program relies on a small team of dedicated individuals. They have limited access to the technology they need to reach more people and build long-term relationships, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for volunteers to find time for administrative tasks.
“Basically, officers were spending too much time in spreadsheets and not enough time with the kids,” said OK Program Executive Director Sergeant Robert L. Smith.
In late 2021, Salesforce swooped in to help the program by providing CRM tools that moved operations at their Oakland chapter into a cloud-based system that organizational administrators and volunteers can access through mobile devices.
Smith said since implementing Salesforce Sales Cloud at the organization, their volunteers are able to enter data in real time onsite rather than spend a day each week entering organizational tracking data into paper spreadsheets.
They now use the Salesforce CRM to digitally track relationships and performance metrics as well as automate communication with stakeholders. Specifically, Sales Cloud tracks relationships between law enforcement officers and the schools the OK Program serves.
In 2022, Salesforce provided the OK Program with a $20,000 grant, which the organization is using to purchase iPads for the program members. The Salesforce team also awarded the OK Program with a license for Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot) as the cherry on top.
Moving operations out of paper binders and into digital systems, the OK Program is poised to continue working toward their expansion goals.
Future-proofing marketing operations with Salesforce
After experiencing success from their Salesforce Sales Cloud implementation in Oakland, they are ready to implement the same system at the organization’s other four locations in Little Rock, AR, Kansas City, KS, Topeka, KS, and Miami, FL. In addition, the OK Program is now diving into the marketing side with a sparkling new Pardot instance.
Pardot is part of the Salesforce platform. That means the organization can share data between both systems as they grow their footprint and add chapters to new cities.
The Pardot implementation is providing much-needed scalable marketing automation capabilities to set them up for success now and as they grow. They’ll use it to communicate digitally and build relationships with the people who support and benefit from the organization.
Sercante steps in to provide pro-bono Pardot implementation support
With a history of providing pro-bono support to organizations in need, the Sercante team rose to the challenge and started work right away by pledging more than $15,000 in pro-bono support.
“I 100% believe in the mission of the OK Program, so of course I said ‘yes’ when Kevin asked me about it. I’m honored to have team Sercante support their mission in any way we can,” said Sercante Founder and CEO Andrea Tarrell.
Tackling the project in tandem with volunteers from the Salesforce team, Sercante is supporting the organization’s migration from a paper-based system and Mailchimp to Salesforce Sales Cloud and Pardot.
The Sercante team will help OK Program us Pardot to complete nurture campaigns for the different personas they serve. They’ll use digital marketing tactics like email templates, Engagement Studio Programs, and landing pages to deliver consistent messaging to the right audiences. And the team will use Salesforce to track results to inform marketing and operational strategies.
The Ok Program tech stack is ready for the future
The greater team will work to get these digital systems up and running so it’s easier to build relationships with the people the OK Program serves. And in the future, the organization will have better reporting capabilities to show the impact of their work as they build better communities from within.
Moving to Salesforce is allowing the organization to connect through a unified platform anyone can access through their mobile devices. And they can continue to grow and tap into that platform by connecting other tools as the organization launches into the future.
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