Youth and Government is a national organization with approximately 55,000 current students participating across 41 states and the District of Columbia. The program is designed to give teens the chance to “immerse themselves in experiential civic engagement” by organizing model-government programs. Given the program’s focus on public service and government, many former Youth and Government participants end up in Washington, DC, taking the lessons they learned with the YMCA and putting them into practice.However, the YMCA lacked an efficient method for tracking where their alumni ended up – especially those in public office or public service - making it difficult to form alumni networks and gatherings of Youth and Government participants.
“We are a professional network of colleagues but need to develop it into something that we can use to finish the public service pipeline,” Derek Summerville said. “[We can follow them] from when we train our students in middle school and high school, when we transition them from learning to actually serving in college, then transitioning them to a career post college.”
Prior to Quorum, the YMCA had to rely on a scattered collection of spreadsheets within each state organization.
“We have a lot of alums who interact with each other without even knowing it,” Summerville said. “The example I like to use is three clerks working for three separate justices of the Supreme Court, who randomly over lunch learned that they were all Youth and Government alums. The minute I heard that story, I knew we had to fix something - I want them to know beforehand.”
When Summerville set out on his task to build an alumni database, Quorum provided a starting point for contacts on Capitol Hill and a framework for organizing the individuals he identified as Youth and Government alumni, all in one platform.
“The product was perfect because the same folks that I was going to try and network with were already in [Quorum’s] system,” Summerville said. “They are working on the Hill, they are working in congressional offices.”
With the contact information available in Quorum, Summerville reaches out to each congressional office asking if any staffers are Youth and Government alums. When he gets a positive response, he tags that contact to his dashboard of alumni. For example, after a recent Hill Day for the Y’s advocacy arm, the students participating came back with business cards of staffers they learned were Youth and Government participants. Summerville went straight into Quorum and saved these news contacts to his list.
“In the past when they’ve come back with a business card and written Youth and Government alum, it kind of just sat there,” Summerville said. “But this time I can literally go into Quorum, I pull up their name, mark it down, and the student feels that was an effective use of advocacy because they helped us connect with an alum that we didn't know on the Hill.”
Quorum played a critical role in identifying program alumni in public service for the YMCA’s premier Youth and Government of the year—the YMCA Youth Governor’s Conference. As the team tried to identify a keynote speaker for the event, Summerville searched the Quorum expanded biographies of each member of Congress to see if any mentioned Youth and Government. He found the biography of Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), whose biography indicated he had been a volunteer advisor for the New Jersey YMCA Youth and Government program, and in his speech that the program had helped inspire his career in public service.
"Without Quorum, not only would we have overlooked his service to the program as an advisor, but we would have missed out on the opportunity to let him share his alumni story," Summerville said.
After Summerville added information and tag particular staffers and members as Youth and Government alumni, he created a public-facing sheet so that he may show his leadership team the progress he is making on the alumni network. Once he set the parameters for his sheet, it auto-updates with each new alumni that he adds to his list. Now, the YMCA’s leadership team can check in on his progress at any point.
Not only has Quorum improved Summerville’s day-to-day workflow but it has also made reporting that information to his leadership team easy and effective.
“[Any state program] can see a map of where everyone is and what their roles are,” Summerville says. “That’s a big deal for us when we’re trying to publish the long-term impact that we have on people who want to go into public service.”
Summerville anticipates further integrating Quorum as a tool to communicate, monitor and engage with program alumni. He hopes to expand his alumni network building at the state level and seek out program alumni who not only work for elected officials, but are elected officials themselves.