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Educational Nonprofit Keeps its Vital Community Services Available Even During COVID-19


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The nonprofit Mexican American Opportunity Foundation is the largest Latino-oriented, family services organization in the US. Established a half-century ago to serve disadvantaged individuals and families in the Los Angeles area, today the organization has 1,000 dedicated employees throughout California providing high-quality social services to communities in need.

MAOF offers many types of community support: senior services, job training, free tax preparation, and even food banks. But the organization’s primary focus is education. MAOF operates school environments all over the state: pre-schools, early-care, education programs, and more than a dozen Head Start programs across Southern California.

Although MAOF has been deemed an essential business during California’s COVID-19 lockdown, at least half of the organization’s employees across the state were still ordered to shelter in place.

But thanks to the nonprofit’s foresight—and the right cloud-communication platform—the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation has been able to continue serving its communities even during the pandemic.

Giving its legacy phone system an ‘F’

When MAOF made the switch to RingCentral’s unified cloud-communications solution, the catalyst wasn’t a global pandemic—it was a local emergency.

“The entire phone system at our main Northern California location just completely died,” recalls IT Director Earl Williams. With thousands of students and families in the area to serve, MAOF couldn’t afford to have its phones offline for any period of time. But the estimate from the telco provider was completely unacceptable. “They quoted us six months to get it up and running.”

RingCentral aces the test

At this point, MAOF had already begun rolling out RingCentral’s unified cloud-communications solution to a few groups in its Southern California headquarters. The idea was to test the solution before deploying it company wide.

“When we called RingCentral for help with the Northern California site, they got everything set up—desk phones, test numbers, everything—within a day. Turns out it didn’t take six months to restore phone service to our team. It took 24 hours.”

Continuing to serve when it’s needed most

As Earl explains, because the organization had RingCentral, transitioning hundreds of its employees to remote work was smooth and didn’t result in any downtime.

Here’s an example Earl describes: “The receptionist at one of our main offices had to go on leave because she was sick. But we were able to easily forward that location’s main number to a call queue, and now whoever is available takes those calls.”

MAOF’s teachers are finding several ways to use RingCentral’s all-in-one communication services to stay connected during the lockdown. Teachers at MAOF’s Head Start locations, for example, are working with students remotely. Many of these employees are worried they would have to give out their personal numbers to make the arrangement work. But they didn’t.

As Earl points out: “Our employees really appreciate that they can use the RingCentral app to talk and even text message using their work numbers, even if they’re on their personal cell phone or a computer.”

Something as disruptive as a statewide shelter-in-place order could have forced a nonprofit like MAOF to freeze many of its social services—including educating children in underserved communities. But because the organization had put the right communication tools in place, even the pandemic hasn’t slowed down MAOF from carrying out its mission of contributing to the socio-economic betterment of the greater Latino community of California.

Originally published May 21, 2020, updated Aug 27, 2020

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