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  • Mila Murray

Next One Up: Transforming the lives of young men in Baltimore City


Founded in 2009, Next One Up (NOU) is a unique Baltimore-based charity that “pushes beyond the boundaries of typical programs” by serving young men formally through the ages of 13 to 25 — although the goal is to be a part of their lives for even longer.


“Our mission is to support and transform the lives of at-risk Baltimore City young men and we do that through long-term mentoring and providing academic, athletic and social support and programming,” said Director of School Choice Kim Tortolani. She is responsible for helping the youth through their college process.


NOU began working with jiiWA — a Toronto-based startup that’s built technology to help charities and their funders better understand their impact and the people they serve through data — in January of 2018 after Tortolani received a referral from a friend.


“When I first started with Next One Up, it was pretty clear that the current staff was not very happy with what they were using in terms of their database and technology as far as keeping track of all of the things they wanted to keep track of for the organization,” Tortolani said. “It was the perfect storm — Next One Up was looking for a new product, then I heard about jiiWA.”


The program they were using before to collect, manage and analyze their data was static and was not particularly user-friendly, Tortolani said. Because of that, it didn’t get used in the way it could’ve been or needed to be used.


“Working with jiiWA has been a great experience for our organization,” she said. “Co-founders Kristina Flynn and Steve Surya are very easy to work with and are providing us with a customized product that would best fit our needs.”


Currently, NOU is using the technology’s back-end administrative features with participant engagement through the platform to follow shortly. Soon, Tortolani said jiiWA will be the staff’s “one-stop shop” where they can not only collect, maintain and update their data but record and manage their interactions and communications with the youth they serve.


“Because a lot of the work that we do is remote — meaning our employees are often off on their own meeting with students, meeting with parents or working at schools — we need ways for us to be able to check-in and see what’s going on with our students even though the staff members might not all be in the same place at the same time,” Tortolani said.


Tortolani also mentioned that because NOU is a relatively small charity, they faced some challenges during the on-boarding process.


“Right when we started getting involved with jiiWA was when our growth was happening,” she said. “Things that we thought we needed when we started the process are different now that we’ve grown and continue to grow. Thankfully, jiiWA has been willing to grow with us.”


To learn more about NOU and the services they provide, check out their website: https://nextoneup.org/about

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