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Empowering Futures: How Degrees of Change Transformed with Microsoft Power Platform


As a Microsoft Authorized Partner, we are excited to share some of our most amazing success stories with Microsoft products. Here are a few


Transforming Futures with Innovation and AI 

Degrees of Change, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering underrepresented students through leadership training, college success support, and career development programming, has achieved remarkable growth and success. Through innovative solutions and a commitment to leveraging technology, the organization has significantly expanded its reach and impact. 


The Journey to a Paperless Future 

Two years ago, Degrees of Change embarked on a mission to transform its operations by developing a Power Platform solution that enabled the organization to go paperless. This shift marked the beginning of a new era for non-profit, streamlining processes and enhancing efficiency. The initial success of this solution led to further innovations, including the integration of a Power Pages portal and powerful AI-driven models, designed to accelerate the matching of candidates to available positions through its Seed Internship Program. 


A Visionary Approach to Technology 

Tim Herron, the Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Degrees of Change, has been instrumental in driving these technological advancements. Reflecting on the journey, Herron shared, "With AI Builder, we are building AI models that we believe will allow us to triple the number of internships we provide over the next two years - without adding additional staff." 


Revolutionizing the Act Six Program 

The transformation began with the Act Six scholarship program, which has successfully sent over 1,400 diverse, first-generation students to college with full scholarships and leadership training. Initially, Degrees of Change faced challenges with maintaining a custom-coded application for the Act Six program. The high costs of third-party software maintenance were unsustainable. However, Tommy Kim, the organization’s former full-time IT resource, saw the potential of Microsoft Power Platform to provide a cost-effective and powerful alternative. 

The Act Six solution was rebuilt using Power Apps, Power Automate, and Dataverse. This new low-code solution not only reduced development costs but also enhanced functionality. The scoring app, built within weeks, facilitated easier recording of selection decisions and improved the overall application process for students and staff. 


Expanding Capabilities with Power Pages 

One of the significant improvements to the Act Six solution was the launch of a Power Pages portal. This portal allowed students to submit applications, track their status, and receive support throughout the evaluation and selection process. Integrating Dynamics 365 into the system further streamlined communication and support for students, making the entire process more efficient and user-friendly. 


Streamlining the Seed Internship Program 

As the organization continued to refine its systems, attention turned to the Seed Internship Program. This program faced its unique challenges, managing hundreds of internships, candidates, interviews, and job offers through a manual system of spreadsheets and emails. The solution? Leveraging the flexibility of the Power Platform, elements of the Act Six system were repurposed and customized for the Seed program. 

Today, the Seed Internship Program is almost entirely automated. Employers register through a Power Pages portal, submit internship positions, and hiring managers provide details through the portal. The system centralizes data in Dataverse, facilitating smooth communication and updates between participants and staff. 


Harnessing the Power of AI 

A significant leap forward came with the introduction of AI Builder. Herron experimented with Bing Chat, using it to assess and match internships and candidates. The results were astonishing. AI Builder now powers a model-driven ‘matching app’ that generates fit scores and consolidates information about internships and candidates. This AI-driven process has streamlined the assessment of free-form resumes and essays, significantly reducing the time required for staff to make recruitment decisions. 


Future Aspirations 

The impact of these innovations is profound. Herron projects that with AI Builder, the organization can triple the number of internships provided over the next two years without additional staff. This efficiency is achieved while maintaining a 32-hour workweek for employees, ensuring a healthy work-life balance. 

Degrees of Change continues to explore new AI-driven functions, such as resume anonymization to reduce bias and AI-generated tips for improving resumes. The organization is also leveraging Copilot in Power Apps, enabling citizen developers to build more technical features with minimal training. 


A Brighter Future for Students 

Through these technological advancements, Degrees of Change is not only transforming its operations but also creating more opportunities for deserving students. The organization's commitment to innovation and efficiency promises a brighter future for underrepresented students, empowering them to achieve their full potential. 

 

Degrees of Change stands as a testament to the power of innovation and technology in driving positive change and expanding opportunities for those who need it most. 

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