#GivingTuesday Customer Spotlight: Emerald City Theatre

Written by Claire Griffith on November 27, 2018

Posted in Case Studies, Nonprofits

In honor of Giving Tuesday, Formstack ran a sweepstakes for our nonprofit customers. To enter, organizations provided an explanation of how they use Formstack to drive their missions forward. We were in awe of all the ways our customers use Formstack to do good in their communities.

One submission in particular stood out as an inspiring example of how Formstack enables organizations to increase their impact. That’s why Emerald City Theatre is this year’s Giving Tuesday Sweepstakes winner. We are excited and delighted to share our part in their story.

Emerald City Theatre and Giving Tuesday

Emerald City Theatre (ECT) is Chicago’s largest theater for young audiences. The organization aims to educate and inspire children from ages 0 to 15 years old through its performances, camps and classes, and community outreach. The theater company’s mission is to celebrate Chicago’s children through “playful, professional, and culturally relevant artistic programs that motivate young people to creatively face the world.”

One of ECT’s outreach initiatives is a partnership with Mary Pope Osborne, author of the award-winning Magic Tree House book series. The partnership birthed the Showtime for CPS Readers: Magic Tree House program, which aims to foster literacy and arts education in second and third grade classrooms of Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The program delivers a livestream theater performance, along with the companion Magic Tree House book, to all CPS second and third grade students for free. Additionally, participating classrooms have a chance to be one of seven winners of an in-school drama residency and field trip to the Emerald City Theatre.

With such a far-reaching opportunity came a massive need for communication and data tracking. Emerald City Theatre needed a quick solution for:

  • Registering over 1250 classrooms in 400 public schools across the city
  • Gathering qualitative data about each classroom’s technological capabilities
  • Tracking individual teacher’s interests in the program offerings to ensure delivery of the appropriate communication

In early 2018, Emerald City Theatre used Formstack to bring order to this complex process and deliver on the partnership promise. Marketing and Audience Services Director Melissa Cameron explains below how Formstack’s online forms and Salesforce integration helped ECT manage program needs.

Formstack helped us address our three primary challenges with three different forms and a Salesforce integration. To help with data collection, I created a form that allowed a single individual at a school (be it principal, arts liaison, or teacher) to register as many classrooms as they wished, providing relevant contact information, technical specifications, and student counts. At the end of the form, teachers had the opportunity to select if they were interested in applying for a free residency. This form made use of the Salesforce integration, where we were able to dedupe classrooms that were registered multiple times. In addition, we were then able to easily email communications regarding book delivery and livestream viewing to registered teachers.

To communicate more clearly about our program, I created a second form to be filled out by parents or partner organizations to notify their child’s teacher of our program and urge them to register. Once completed, the teacher received an automated confirmation email from Formstack that included a brief description of the program and the parent’s request for them to sign up, along with the link to the data collection form.

Finally, we created a residency application form asking teachers to explain the possible impact a free residency would have on their students, and why they felt their classroom should win. Using the “application interest” field on the data collection form, we were able to email interested teachers directly and follow up with additional information, deadline reminders, etc.

Using Formstack, Emerald City Theatre registered 80% of CPS second and third grade classrooms—nearly half of which had 90% or more low-income students that received exposure to literacy and the arts through the program. This ambitious outreach project served students in all 50 Chicago wards, providing 60,000 young students with 90,000 free Magic Tree House books and selecting 280 students for extended in-school residencies and field trips.

“This amazing project would never have happened without Formstack!” Cameron said.

We are happy to play a role in the impactful work ECT is doing and to provide further support this Giving Tuesday.

Don’t forget to give to your favorite nonprofits for Giving Tuesday 2018. If Emerald City Theatre’s work inspires you as much as it does us, donate to their cause today.