Empowering School Social Workers
to provide evidence-based services

The Challenge

The School Social Work Association of America is committed to equipping School Social Workers with tools, materials, and best practices to help in their professional roles. To succeed in this undertaking SSWAA needed a tool built specifically for school social workers that ensured user-friendly access to resources and was easy enough to manage in a volunteer-based organization.

Customer since: March 2019

Number of admin users: 10

Number of member users: 1000+

The Results

    • Shelf successfully powers the School Social Worker Resource Library (SWRL) and is used as one of the premier membership benefits.
    • Thanks to Shelf’s modern technology stack SSWAA could easily implement the solution and continue to effectively manage it without employing consultants or development staff.
    • With the Power of WebClipper, SSWAA volunteers can now easily grow their database, while tags, analytics and feedback manager allow easy maintenance and grooming.

The Story

SSWAA is devoted to the support of professionals as they expand their knowledge, elevate their abilities, and engage within their profession to enable high-quality work. Therefore, creating a dedicated resource center was the logical next step to improving the impact of their organization “School social workers had nowhere to go to search for or share best practices, resources, or tools that we deem helpful, that’s why creating a dedicated platform was a challenging, yet necessary, undertaking for us”, shared Michelle Alvarez, Board President.

“We knew we wanted to create this tool and we were going about it with thoughtful care and planning.” SSWAA had certain criteria in mind they felt was necessary if this initiative would succeed across their entire organization:

A polished, visually
appealing user interface.

An efficient, intuitive user
experience (work fast and
efficiently, be intuitive)

Highly searchable, with
the ability to tag content

Highly structured with
deep organization and
categorization capabilties.

An ability to bookmark or save
a resource so they can easily
find it again.

A forum for discussions in
order to ask questions.

Must allow pay for non-members
to pay for access and option
for subscription fees

Must have an easy link to social
media to post that
a new resource is available

Must allow for all users
(members and subscribers)
to submit resources for review

An ability for users to comment
and rate resources

We knew we wanted to create this tool and we were going about it with thoughtful care and planning.”

Short on resources and with no dev on the team, SSWAA looked for a solution with simple and user-friendly implementation.

A trust-worthy resource center

Signing on with Shelf enabled the creation of an integral part of SSWAA’s services – SWRL. The new resource center became a contributor environment where members could easily share and find evidence-based materials and best practices, and resources that individual practitioners have developed themselves specifically tailored for school social workers. No resource had ever existed in such a way, until SSWAA partnered with Shelf. With the help of Shelf’s customer success team, “it’s been easy to implement. Shelf has given us a foundation of taxonomy and categorization and we have established a procedure that allows easy and fast upload of resources,” shared Michelle.
On top of that, the publication workflow feature facilitated a process of posting and moderating new content. “Our academic team can tag the level of evidence for every newly contributed resource, then easily categorize materials accordingly.” To continue perfecting SWRL, the SSWAA team uses Shelf Insights to track the most active users, then contacts them to obtain detailed feedback for platform improvement. This has helped SSWAA discover more topics that SWRL now covers for its members.

Additionally, content ratings and comments allow the professional community to highlight the most effective best practices and share useful tips with one another.

“During COVID, we were able to deliver huge amounts of new information as quickly as we could—when it became available.”

SSWAA is keen on making Shelf available to more users and building an incredible base of knowledge that will help every social school worker in America be more successful at their job.

Easy to publish, easy to discover

One of the benefits that SSWAA has highlighted for themselves is Shelf’s AI-enabled search engine. “The search capacity is amazing. We don’t need to force keywords in the title anymore, because it searches the whole document.” Since training materials exist in a variety of formats (documents, pdfs, videos, spreadsheets, etc) the ability to immediately search through an entire piece of content makes it much easier to discover useful materials, and eliminates the burden of naming files in order to make them searchable.

We chose Shelf because of its user experience and functionality.”

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