This blog post was written by Sue Anne Lewis, Service Learning Coordinator, NCSSM Service Learning Website. She is scheduled to present her session, “Using LetServe to Improve Service Learning Programs,” at 1 p.m. Tuesday, November 14.
When I first took over as Service Learning Coordinator at NCSSM-Durham in 2011, I found myself swimming in hundreds, maybe even thousands, of faxes! Yes, I know it’s hard to believe we were using faxes in 2011, but it’s true! The process at the time required nonprofit organizations and students to send in several faxes for each student to receive service credit. I would spend hours sitting in an office during the summer manually entering information into spreadsheets. Due to the amount of paperwork coming in, all students had to complete their 60 hour minimum requirement during one summer at one location to make the processes as simple as possible. As you might imagine, this was hard for some students who needed the flexibility of holding a job to help support their family or students who traveled in the summer to other states to be with another parent. A few years later, NCSSM became connected with Google products and the introduction of Google Forms made the processes easier, and greener, but still didn’t hit the mark. Students were still only allowed to volunteer in the summer, could not see their total hours or if their supervisors had even submitted them, and could not search for previously used opportunities in their area of North Carolina. Though it was a step in the right direction, it still did not provide the transparency and flexibility we needed.
Then in 2018, Christine Cotton and Deepika Gandhi, reached out to me about their new product, LetServe. LetServe is a service learning management system, which allows organizations to register and approve hours, students to track hours and create service resumes, and comes with excellent customer service to NCSSM and all of our constituents. Finally! A system which would allow our students to see in real time how many hours had been approved, the flexibility to have their hours come from many locations, and the ability for organizations to be listed in a directory and approve student hours with a few clicks of a button once registered. Not only does it better serve our biggest constituents, students and organizations, it also has greatly benefited me as an administrator. LetServe has allowed me to have data available at my fingertips regarding our students’ service. From seeing how many hours total our students have volunteered, to how many are in danger of not meeting the required minimum, to seeing what categories of service are most popular, it’s all available for me on an easy to read dashboard.
For NCSSM, LetServe has made a huge difference in how the NCSSM Service Requirement interacts with its students and the agencies in which they serve across North Carolina and beyond. Students have the ability to view how many hours are pending and approved at any time, can select their favorite organizations, and download a service resume to share with their college applications and scholarships. LetServe gives NCSSM the ability to pull registered organizations from a global directory into our private directory, allowing our students to find opportunities not only in Durham or Morganton, but across the state near their hometowns.
Christine and I hope you will join us on Tuesday, November 14th at 1 pm to see a demo of LetServe and engage in discussions about how LetServe can impact your organization!