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City Year

City Year turns to Acquia, Drupal, to digitally engage with students and corps members around the world

City Year

Digital strategy helps provide foundation to increase graduation rate in high need schools

City Year is an education-focused nonprofit organization that partners with public schools to keep students in school and on track to succeed. The organization deploys young adults—City Year AmeriCorps members—to serve full-time in high need schools. City Year AmeriCorps members work side-by-side with students, teachers, and families throughout the school year to provide individualized support, focusing on attendance, behavior, and coursework.

With 2,800 active City Year AmeriCorps members serving more than 250 schools in 25 U.S. cities, City Year needed to deliver an engaging digital experience to recruit the next generation of corps members who would truly educate and support students all over the world. City Year turned to Acquia and Drupal to provide a platform and technology to help it fulfill its mission of making an impact in the lives of students and communities.

The Challenge

In high poverty communities, too many students face obstacles that interfere with their ability to get to school every day, ready and able to learn. These students need extra support to help them overcome the challenges they’re facing. But a gap exists between what the students need and the support the schools are designed and resourced to provide.

The result is a shockingly high dropout rate in high poverty communities. Of the one million students who drop out every year, 50 percent of them come from 12 percent of the schools. This statistic has huge consequences, not only for the student who drops out, but also for our communities and country. To best serve and communicate with a diverse group of audiences involved with the organization, City Year knew that having an engaging and informative website that was flexible and could continue to scale would have the largest impact. By ensuring that future corps members, community leaders, and partners could access content, stories, and resources from an online place that was accessible and informative, City Year could reach a broader audience.

City Year’s previous website was 10 years old and built on the proprietary platform Ektron, which did not provide the flexibility to develop an agile, engaging, and user experience-based website. Further, with 25 locations, each location needed to be able to maintain, update, and introduce new content on a timely basis. To support the locations, City Year needed to have an intuitive and user-friendly CMS so that their location-based teams could help the website stay current. City Year needed an enticing experience-based platform that reflected the brand’s 25 year history.

How they did it

City Year’s technical team had .Net experience, so it initially planned to build a new site from scratch. After learning about the flexibility, agility, and reliability of open source platforms in various case studies and from reaching out to organizations that made a similar decision, City Year decided on Drupal. City Year partnered with VML, a Kansas City-based digital agency to build a website based on insights, user experience (UX), and brand objectives. The website was built using a combination of native and custom Drupal applications and distributions that would support the content needs of the organization, offer multiple content types, and reach audiences on multiple devices.

With Drupal, City Year is able to leverage brand-specific and localized content and share it in multiple ways. Now, City Year will be able to govern workflow with the CMS managers at the location level and channel needs at the organization level. Drupal also provided City Year with a Drupal community (over one million members on Drupal.org) that it could relate to and truly feel a part of.

City Year turned to Acquia to provide a cloud solution that would help it continue to engage with young prospective corps members and other audiences all across the United States. Acquia Cloud provides the organization with the ability to scale its mission statement, support global engagement, and bring its program to new countries or schools.

The results

As the website evolves, City Year has plans to build an extensive social presence and integrate Marketo and Salesforce CRM solutions. With a user-focused, engaging website, City Year is on track to grow the organization as its strives to achieve its long-term goal of expanding from 25 cities to 38 cities nationwide, growing to a corps of more than 12,000, and ultimately increasing the number of students the organization serves from 150,000 to nearly 800,000. Acquia and Drupal are essential to this success. “Drupal gave eight people with no development experience on our team the ability to build content into an entire website in two months,” said Namrata Patel, director of digital marketing at City Year. “With this external facing channel, we can serve and make an impact on increasing the graduation rate in high need schools across the U.S.”

Drupal gave eight people with no development experience on our team the ability to build content into an entire website in two months.
Namrata Patel,
director of digital marketing at City Year

Company Information

City Year
2,800 active City Year AmeriCorps members serving more than 250 schools in 25 U.S. cities
Drupal user since 2013
Acquia client since 2013