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Free to Grow

The Children’s Foundation helps children and youth reach their full potential through programs that support their intellectual, emotional and physical well-being. Free to Grow is one of the main programs of the Children's Foundation. It funds recreational activities like sports, arts and camps, life-skill development activities such as babysitting, driver's education training, tutoring and more. Funds are available for the activity of the child’s choice as long as the activity will benefit and enrich their own personal development. 

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The challenge

The Children's Foundation provides grants to low-income families that help children participate in sports, music, dance and other programs. They wanted to upgrade a system that manages this process as it was unable to handle the new demands being put on it. There were also several changes in process that needed to be put into the system as well.

Another important goal was to ensure that clients who have limited access to computers would be able to interact with the system and upload documents using a cell phone.

The solution

Northern Village undertook a thorough review of the existing management system for the Free to Grow program. This included:

  • Review the current Free to Play Application in detail
  • Analyze the current data structure to ensure all information will be included in the new application, and ensure it can be ported over when the new application is done.
  • Develop priority of components for application creation.
  • Ensure that clients are able to access the system and upload documents using cell phonse.
  • Track the amounts for each child separately, keeping track of the money that can be accessed.
  • Manage the approval process, including handling clients who change their mind.
  • Coordinate bulk payments to service providers.
  • Report on clients of various status within the system, and download reports via CSV.
  • Manage end of year rollover, including resetting funding fields.
  • Test after each component is complete.
  • Update as required.
  • Train staff on how to use of the software and how to train clients to use the software.
  • Start testing while running the new system in parallel.

Northern Village programmed the software in Ruby on Rails, ensuring that all aspects are available through a web browser, and it works of all screens and accessiblity devices.