Ascend Charter Schools

Ascend Charter Schools leverages RingCentral MVP with video to deliver A+ education during COVID
Industry
Education
Hq
Brooklyn, NY
Year founded
2008
Employees
700
Industry
Education
Hq
Brooklyn, NY
Year founded
2008
Employees
700
We’ve had so much success with RingCentral Video that we’re now running a test pilot with RingCentral Rooms, with the goal of equipping every classroom to let remote learners fully participate in live classes. I see this as the future of education, and I think RingCentral is going to play a big role in it.
Emeka Ibekweh
Managing Director of Technology
100%
Calls viewed and analyzed
50%
 Increase in support team capacity
Goosehead Insurance (NASDAQ: GSHD) has leveraged a top-quality team and cutting-edge technology to become one of the largest and fastest-growing insurance brokerages in the industry. Today, more than 15 years after its founding, Goosehead is still in hyper growth mode.
But the company, which started with a mission to “put clients at the center of our universe,” found its on-premises phone system was holding it back from fulfilling that mission. The search for a better communications solution led to RingCentral.
Providing high-quality education to economically disadvantaged students
Soon after opening its first campus in 2008, just for kindergarten through second grade, Ascend Charter Schools found such strong demand from families in the area that the team began plans to open a second school. Today, Ascend operates 15 schools across Brooklyn, educating 6,000 K-12 students. And each year, the student waiting list grows longer. The schools’ performance statistics explain why.
Although more than 80% of its students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds—traditionally a population that underperforms in school—Ascend’s unique mix of rigorous academic study and innovative teaching methods has led to a reversal of this trend. Ascend’s students outperform New York’s citywide and statewide school averages on exams measuring proficiency in both English language arts and math.
And the good news doesn’t end there. While roughly 84% of New York public school students graduate from high school within four years, that number is 97% at Ascend. Even more impressive, in the 2019-2020 academic year, 100% of Ascend’s high school graduates earned admission to college.
But with its team building new schools, hiring additional staff, and expanding the organization’s geographic footprint across New York’s largest borough, Ascend needed a better IT communications solution.
A telephony system earning low marks
Emeka Ibekweh, Managing Director of Technology for Ascend, explains that prior to RingCentral, the organization was facing challenges with its phone infrastructure. “The PBX system was very outdated, and its administration portal was clunky and cumbersome to use,” he says.
Those challenges became more problematic, Emeka notes, with each new school Ascend opened and each new teacher or staff member the organization brought on. And there was one more aspect of the phone system that Ascend was finding increasingly outdated.
“We had phones at every employee’s desk as well as in every classroom, but no easy way of allowing them to make or receive calls on their school number when they weren’t in their offices. We realized that we were limiting our staff’s ability to stay connected to each other and to parents—and this was well before COVID.”
Migrating to mobile, unified communications
As Emeka explains, his team began a test run with RingCentral at a couple of Ascend’s newer schools. “That worked so well, and the staff who used the system liked it so much, we implemented RingCentral across all of Ascend’s schools and offices.”
By bringing the 700 faculty and staff members across all locations into one cloud-communications environment, the Ascend organization now had an easy way of connecting any employees, anywhere, from any device.
“It was so simple: just log into RingCentral, either through an app or the web portal, and find any coworker in any location,” says Emeka. “Then it was just a matter of clicking their name or dialing their internal extension. That saved us time hunting for phone numbers, helped us reach our colleagues on the first try—because they could receive work calls on their cell phones—and improved our ability to get things done.”
One big benefit we found with the RingCentral mobile app was that our operations teams—facilities managers, maintenance managers— were now reachable on their business number even as they moved around the school. So, we were able to get rid of their desk phones.
Emeka Ibekweh
Managing Director of Technology
But in addition to workflow improvements that they were enjoying with RingCentral’s any-device cloud phone solution, Ascend’s team found even more transformational benefits from another solution in their RingCentral environment.
Keeping the school connected through anywhere, anytime video
Even before the pandemic forced a shutdown of their schools, Ascend’s employees were finding benefits from using RingCentral Video for their staff meetings. One reason, Emeka explains, was the platform’s versatility. “You could join a video conference from any device. I would regularly be on RingCentral Video meetings from my cell phone during workouts, with the phone propped up on the treadmill.”
But as the lockdowns went into effect, Emeka explains, “We used RingCentral Video to keep our staff operating, our teachers teaching, and our students learning.” In fact, during much of the school year affected by the pandemic, Ascend used RingCentral as a virtual gathering place for nearly every school function. 
Our teachers used RingCentral Video for remote instruction every day. We used the video platform for staff events like holiday parties. We even used RingCentral to hold virtual graduation ceremonies and science fairs.
Emeka Ibekweh
Managing Director of Technology
In fact, Emeka explains, Ascend’s employees also used their RingCentral Video platforms through the lockdowns to stay connected to family and friends—something the organization’s senior leadership hadn’t expected but was happy to learn about.
“During the early days of COVID, I went into the RingCentral reporting dashboard and saw that our video usage was skyrocketing, even nights and weekends. Our staff told me they were using RingCentral Video with family and friends they couldn’t see in person.”
Emeka adds: “It was great to know we were helping our teams stay connected to people they cared about during the shutdown. And RingCentral was helping us do it—by charging us the same amount for 1 minute or 1 million minutes of video time.”
During the early days of COVID, I went into the RingCentral reporting dashboard and saw that our video usage was skyrocketing, even nights and weekends. Our staff told me they were using RingCentral Video with family and friends they couldn’t see in person. It was great to know we were helping our teams stay connected to people they cared about during the shutdown and RingCentral was helping us do it.
Emeka Ibekweh
Managing Director of Technology
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