At a glance
Helping students succeed in the classroom often requires modern, effective technology. As part of our pro-bono Philanthropy Fellow Program, we partnered with Rainier Scholars to help redefine its website and intranet requirements, setting the nonprofit up for continued success and growth.
Rainier Scholars helps ensure educational access and opportunity for low-income students of color. The program guides students from middle school through high school and college, providing academic enrichment, comprehensive support, and leadership development along the way. Services include mentorship, career preparation, internship placement, and support with the job-search process. After more than a decade in operation, the program is at a turning point.
“We’ve been building out our program model for many years, and now we’re starting to see measurable success in college degrees,” says Jeanne Ting Chowning, associate executive director.
Three cohorts have graduated from college. The organization has hired its first alum. College graduates are returning to engage with the organization and the community. Alumni are leading the way as mentors. One graduate even gave her entire first paycheck to Rainier Scholars.
The model works, and the program is life-changing.
"Now we have a new challenge,” says Chowning. “We need to strengthen ourselves and our infrastructure to make sure that we’re successful into the future.”
For organizations with limited resources and a big vision, a little pro-bono help goes a long way.
Rainier Scholars enlisted the assistance of Slalom's Philanthropy Fellow Program, which pairs a seasoned consultant with a local nonprofit in a three-month pro-bono engagement. Nina Ozaki, a consultant in our delivery leadership practice, was tasked with providing guidance on the organization’s web redesign project and identifying an intranet solution for the program and internal operations.
Though functional, the nonprofit’s website needed an overhaul. It was outdated, and after growing organically alongside the program, the site and its navigation structure had become unwieldy.
Nina helped Rainier Scholars think through a new structure and requirements for its future site. That led to the definition of a web redesign process, including project goals, purpose statement, audiences, current- and target-state assessments, and site map, as well as an RFP template.
Rainier Scholars now has the relevant information needed to make its new website a reality—one that better supports the organization’s goals and drives more involvement with supporters.
Rainier Scholars originally thought a single intranet site would address its internal needs. However, the project work revealed that it would be more efficient and cost-effective to address each unique use case with specific solutions.
For example, the organization wanted a platform where students, faculty, and program staff could easily communicate, such as posting assignments or sharing information. For this, they determined that a learning management system was the best fit.
Rainier Scholars also wanted a place to share resources with its board and connect its students with internship and employment opportunities. Again, rather than over-investing in a single solution with more bells and whistles than necessary, they realized that a file-sharing site would best serve its needs while leveraging existing software, while something as simple as a closed LinkedIn group would be ideal for students seeking jobs and internships.
Both projects support Rainier Scholars’ five-year strategic plan.
“Technology is front and center for what we’re trying to do for long-term sustainability,” says Chowning. Bolstering the nonprofit’s technical infrastructure and tools will allow it to continue to improve how it prepares students for the future.
“We’re a relationship-focused organization,” says Chowning. “We really get to know students and families to walk this journey with them. This [Philanthropy Fellows] program also has a relationship focus: engaging with an organization to learn and understand the challenges that they’re facing and developing appropriate and cost effective solutions. That takes time—but it also yields great results.”
The Philanthropy Fellow Program isn’t just about benefitting our nonprofit neighbors; it’s about providing meaningful outlets for our people to give back.
“It’s very gratifying to support an organization that is making such a positive impact in the local community,” says Ozaki. “I am proud to work for a firm that supports organizations focused on impact and provides philanthropic opportunities for us to contribute to.”
About Rainier Scholars
Rainier Scholars is committed to improving the educational opportunities for students of color, from sixth grade through college graduation. The 11-year program, which supports 60 to 65 new students a year, currently serving 600 scholars, is divided into four phases: academic enrichment, academic counseling and support, leadership development, and college support. The program has had great success since its inception, with a 96% matriculation to 4-year colleges, and 400+ internships with various employers.
About Slalom’s Philanthropy Fellows Program
As part of our Philanthropy Fellow Program, seasoned consultants volunteer their expertise to benefit a local nonprofit in a three-month pro-bono engagement. The program challenges consultants to “figure out where they can make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time,” says Ozaki.
We’re proud to partner with local organizations that allow us to give back in truly meaningful ways, such as building a new website to help the Boys and Girls Club of King County fulfill its mission or helping Larkin Street Youth Services rally its staff behind a common goal.