The Sallie Mae Fund, a charitable organization sponsored by Sallie Mae, achieves its mission to increase access to higher education for America’s students by supporting programs and initiatives that help open doors to higher education, prepare families for their college investment, and bridge the gap when no one else can. In addition, The Fund supports employee volunteerism and community service in the communities where Sallie Mae employees live and work
A Unique Program Structure
In the spring of 2008, The Sallie Mae Fund launched the Kids2College (K2C) program. Through The Fund’s partnership with private and government organizations across the country, the K2C program is aimed at developing and implementing a college awareness program for sixth-grade students across the country. The Kids2College program includes a six-session curriculum that exposes students to the value and availability of higher education. To facilitate this process, The Fund provides the full curriculum and related tools such as training and an online resource to support a qualifying organization’s effort.
Multiple Levels of Interaction The Sallie Mae Fund’s Kids2College program uses a partnership model between the school district, local colleges, universities and a program coordinator. This structure requires each of the Sallie Mae Fund’s hundreds of partners to have unique access permissions to scheduled events and meetings, shared documents, shared tasks and shared links specific to their engagement while concurrently limiting access to no-associated neighboring region’s groups, all while maintaining a common area where different regions can discuss their unique ideas and approaches.
In managing a full-scale, regionally dispersed program with multiple levels of partnerships and events, an organization would typically require regional offices or an accelerated travel schedule to coordinate in organizing projects and events.
Low Overhead and Limited Resources
As a non-profit organization with limited overhead, The Sallie Mae Fund had only two courses open to it: they could either delay the program long enough to raise additional funds allocated towards managing the program at a full scale in a traditional manner, or the program could be temporarily approached as a limited engagement in one of the selected regions. This was true until they discovered the power of online collaboration through HyperOffice.
With HyperOffice, The Sallie Mae Fund is able to organize their users in groups separated by region and affiliation. For instance, a group for each of the 50 states in which the program was active would be built, as well as a common group for partners. In addition, multiple subgroups detailed by internal departments for internal Sallie Mae Fund employees were envisioned. Within each self-contained group there was to exist a fully customized homepage, calendar, project management tool, and complete document repository. Based on their individual role and profile within the program, the HyperOffice experience would be differentiated and unique for each user.
With No Mention of HyperOffice: A Fully Branded Solution
A fundamental requirement in building trust within a member-based organization is the need to maintain a look and feel consistent with the organization’s existing image and culture across all mediums. One of the factors in The Sallie Mae fund’s hesitation to move towards an outside solution was that most solutions did not offer the ability to customize the product to appear as if it was seamlessly a part of the existing Sallie Mae Fund website, but instead had the jarring appearance of a third party solution. With HyperOffice, The Sallie Mae Fund was able to maintain the format of their existing site, with no mention of HyperOffice in their implementation. In fact, the login fields to the collaboration solution were embedded directly on The Sallie Mae Fund’s existing website.
A Seamless Integration
Through the use of the fully integrated HyperOffice page designer, Publisher, a member of the Sallie Mae Fund team with no web design experience whatsoever was able to design and build their collaboration portal. It consisted of an extranet for the client groups and an intranet for the internal groups. This structure allows each group to function independently within the intranet on their own unique intranet workspace, a dedicated area within the intranet based on specific group needs. For instance, a New York group would highlight upcoming events associated with College grants or informational events in the NY State, or even statistics associated with the region. The ability to customize the portal’s homepage allowed the Sallie Mae Fund to create direct links to the curriculum and highlight applicable documents on the homepage itself. When used in conjunction with the ability to customize the user experience based on profiles, they are able to completely influence the navigation of a group and the way it is presented, thus customizing the experience for each user on the individual level. In short, the Sallie Mae Fund HyperOffice collaboration portal existed as a seamless, yet secure component of their existing site.