FareStart is a culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals in Seattle. Since 1992, the organization has provided opportunities for nearly 7,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving over 6 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children. Recently, West Monroe Partners had the opportunity to partner with FareStart—providing a pro bono service in an area of our expertise that, in turn, enables the organization to better support its students and the community.
Each year, we strive to donate one percent of our talent to help organizations in our communities, like FareStart, advance their missions and impact—that’s part of our broader commitment to supporting and investing in the communities in which we work and live. In this case, FareStart had implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, but the system was not producing the information its staff needed to support students effectively throughout their learning program, which lasts several months, and into their job placement. We spent time with FareStart staff to understand their needs and then helped the organization reconfigure its Microsoft Dynamics CRM system to deliver timely, valuable, and relevant information.
Our work has helped FareStart in a number of ways, from improving its ability to communicate impact to its donors to enabling better decision making. Most importantly, though, it has allowed staff to spend more time with students as they make the transition to self-sufficiency—and that has enabled FareStart to make a measurable impact in the community. For example, FareStart enrolled nearly 230 students in 2013, graduated 110, and achieved 90-percent job placement. Moreover, the system has enabled FareStart to begin tracking metrics such as six-month job retention (80 percent) and housing progression (70-80 percent of its students moved from the street or an emergency shelter to long-term transitional or permanent housing)—insight that it can use to further refine its service and impact.