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School budgets are in terrible shape in the United States. Recently I attended a protest that gave voice to the littlest victims of this situation — elementary school children. Watch this short video clip of inspiring kids who stand to lose the most in this budget catastrophe:

 

As a parent of a kindergartner newly enrolled in public school, it’s hard not to feel completely helpless in the face of such massive budget shortfalls, while at the same time knowing how important this is to our children’s — our own — future on this planet.

Looking through the budget handout information at a school meeting last night — figures printed on various pieces of reused paper from whatever scrap the school could gather, sometimes in tabular format, sometimes hand-scribbled — I was hopelessly confused. Then someone brought up the idea of making a pie chart that could help visualize key areas for funding — and cutting. Then I got to thinking: Isn’t that the business we do at SAP?

Is there a way to provide accessible analytics for cash-strapped schools to help sort through this mess? Does BOBJ Explorer already do this — or do you still need the respected talents of consultants to rig it all up? Is there someone or something that SAP can offer in its vast community passion and wisdom that can help? There must be parents out there who have used or know how to use SAP tools to help struggling schools — or non-parents who know how and have the time. It’s got to be lightweight and agile for a school that has about $-350K to spare.

If there is an answer, I’m certain it lies within the SAP Community Network.

SCN itself was recently lauded by an Aspen report that cited the SAP Community Network “as illustrating perhaps the most extensive use to date of social media by a corporation” with its “power to give employees at all levels of the company real-time insights into customer needs, interests and problems.” [Aspen Institute Report Cites SAP(R) Community Network as Social Media Forerunner]

This is a question of corporate social responsibility — but also of human and civil rights at the deepest core of our community and communities around the world. Can we help?

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  1. Marilyn Pratt
    Earlier this week in Xcelsius Challenge for Community Poll Results Jason challenged the community to create dashboards around Olympic results using Xcelsius Engage.  With a little tweaking is it possible to create another challenge?  This time creating a dashboard around analytics for cash-strapped schools?  On Jason’s blog there are very explicit instructions for working with a trial copy of Xcelcius Engage 2008.  It looks like without having to make an Olympic effort, community members can begin to experiment.  There are plenty of tutorials, free downloads,  expert advice.  It would be very cool to turn this sport challenge into an education solution.  Who is willing to take the plunge?  Benefits are many:
    1) get to learn a useful tool
    2) get to create a practical Xcelcius chart with a real business application
    3) get to help perform a useful civic action
    4) get rewarded by community recognition beyond the proverbial “points recognition” and beyond our SCN community
    5) Get your solutions showcased.

    Moya, can you provide some examples of simple data so folks can start noodling?

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    1. Moya Watson Post author
      marilyn and trevor — YES!

      re examples of data:

      there are tons of publicly available data sources on schools and budget — (aka Gov20, sunlight foundation) — i just need to do some digging and then get back to you in this thread.

      as for our school’s particular budget — i’m checking to see whether i can get hold of it as we speak.

      many many benefits.

      please can we get this schools challenge moving?

      trevor we could also include your aspect of the challenge, which is how can we actually use the software IN schools.  i’m fascinated to learn more about the situation in Africa too.

      Agreed:
      – Social Entrepreneurship
      – Analytics /Xcelsius challenge – can SAP help sort the budget mess?
      – Gravity / 12Sprints *in the classroom*
      and lastly:
      – Cash grants FROM SAP to schools — i’m not sure what SAP already does here but i should do some digging.

      if anyone knows, or knows how to move these forward, please chime in!

      cheers and thanks for your passion,
      -k

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      1. Kirby Leong
        Hi Moya,

        Just an FYI that I’ve been working with the University of British Columbia in Canada on their Social Entrepreneurship 101: Kenya program. The program teaches business plannign to aspiring entrepreneurs. I’ve been mulling over the ways SAP could be involved; one way is to provide BI tools to help MFIs control their default rate and to help government ministries track and report on their disbursements.

        For more information about the program, please visit:  http://africa.sauder.ubc.ca.

        Perhaps we could have some shared learning, since we’re passionate about education. Please keep me in the loop about your project!

        Kirby

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  2. Trevor Naidoo
    I’m also very passionate about this subject (education) because we are faced with similar obstacles in Africa. If I could make one suggestion, apart from us devising analytical solutions for the education system if we could cast our net out a bit further where SAP Technology could assist in educating our young generation…I was looking specifically at a use case for Gravity in this initiative, it’s still in it’s early stages (still thought’s in my head) at the moment.

    I read another article the other day where an informal trader from South Africa shared the stage at CeBIT with our co-CEO’s. The idea itself was so simple yet so powerful & sustainable from an African perpective. The solution, with the aid of SAP, basically enabled informal traders to replenish their stock with just mobile phone technology.

    I prefer to look at it from a Social Entrpreneurship angle (I think the term was coined by Professor Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank) as opposed to a Corporate Social Investment angle. For me it means that the people on the ground become more influential on the outsomes of social initiatives.

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