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The YMCA: Reducing manual work and increasing accessibility to compliance training for 5,000 employees
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Case Study

The YMCA: Reducing manual work and increasing accessibility to compliance training for 5,000 employees

"At the Y, you have to be certified in the classes you teach. With Cornerstone, it’s much easier to track and manage these certifications. It’s been huge for us and very successful."
Dustin Lacasse
Director of Learning, YMCA of San Diego County

Dedicated to the mission of improving the quality of human life, The YMCA of San Diego County supports the community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The nonprofit is San Diego’s seventh largest employer and the second largest YMCA in the United States.

The YMCA of San Diego County has 5,000 employees working in hundreds of different roles. Most of these positions—from lifeguards to Zumba teachers to first aid instructors—require frequent and ongoing safety certification training. Yet the nonprofit’s paper-based system made it difficult and time consuming to schedule, track and report on learning.

“Everything was manually driven, paper-based and kept in files,” said Dustin Lacasse, director of learning at the YMCA of San Diego County. “It wasn’t easy to understand what learners had completed without going through manual files. We didn’t have a good process in place to enable us to manage learning.”

The manual system also made it difficult to keep course information up to date. “Each time a class moved to a new location, we had to release manual updates. We didn’t have an efficient way to ensure key information was reaching people in a timely manner.”


Why Cornerstone

After an extensive process reviewing available learning management systems, YMCA leadership selected Cornerstone Learning. “The team looked at quite a few applications, because there are a lot of vendors out there. But we didn’t want to base our selection on hope, as in ‘We don’t know much about this or that system, so let’s just hope it works,’” said Lacasse. “We wanted a known quantity, a solution with a reputation. A lot of people at the Y had used Cornerstone in previous roles at other organizations. I had also used Cornerstone, so it made sense to move forward.”

To drive user adoption, Lacasse and his team deployed a sustained communication campaign, which included sending brochures and postcards to build excitement for the new solution. The team also branded Cornerstone Learning to better reflect the YMCA’s image and values. “We branded it as Y University to make it even more user friendly and create name recognition,” said Lacasse. “We generated a lot more user buy-in as a result.”


The Results

Reduced manual work. Prior to implementing Cornerstone, the YMCA relied on a time-consuming, paper-based, manual system to track and report on certifications. “At the Y, you have to be certified in the classes you teach. There are so many different types of licensures required to be successful,” said Lacasse. “With Cornerstone, it’s much easier to track and manage these certifications. It’s been huge for us and very successful.”

Increased accessibility to training. With Cornerstone, more than 5,000 employees can easily access compliance training from anywhere. While the organization doesn’t allow employees to use mobile phones on the job due to safety concerns, staff can now take certain trainings on their own schedules, using home computers or personal laptops.

Improved visibility. The YMCA’s existing paper-based system provided little to no global visibility into training completions and results. With Cornerstone, the nonprofit now has access to real-time results, as well ongoing analytics key to managing compliance and certifications. Cornerstone is working with the YMCA to streamline data importing from outside systems, such as Eventbrite. “We’re still in the process of reducing the manual work of integrating data outside courses, but tracking is so much easier,” said Lacasse. “And Cornerstone is great if you’re into analytics.”

Paved the way for succession planning conversations. Increased access to training and certification data will make it easier for the YMCA to begin addressing succession planning. “Our employees want to understand their options and potential career paths,” said Lacasse. “We’re working on ensuring each branch has a computer to use for training, and we’re budgeting for increased succession planning efforts.”

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