U-M’s Alumni Association Streamlines LEAD Scholarship Applications with Salesforce Integration

The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan has completed an eight-month-long effort to improve the processing and management of LEAD Scholarship Applications. Since 2008, the Alumni Association has offered nearly 750 LEAD scholarships to students on all three U-M campuses, supporting the most deserving underrepresented minority candidates and providing opportunities to afford a Michigan degree. As the scholarship program continued to grow, manual tracking of spreadsheet application records and PDF copies was no longer sustainable.

After investigating commercial scholarship tracking applications, the team instead chose an in-house development project. The Alumni Association already maintains a broad Salesforce footprint, which houses alumni and donor data. The project team, led by Andy Bloomfield and supported by Salesforce developer Hiral Shah, Salesforce admin Jessica Jimenez-Brown, and CRM Operations Manager Tabetha Kolodzaike, collaborated with an experienced program staff led by Ashleigh Hardy and supported by Phyllis Taylor and Rebecca Noell. Additional participants included Rene Dupont (Marketing), Caitlin Glimco (Data), Arhum Arshad (Product Management), and Lily Nazarian (Development). The project sought to leverage native Salesforce functionality, custom objects, process automation flows, FormAssembly connectors, and an Experience Cloud portal to reduce overhead and streamline the award process from start to finish.

Admitted students are invited to the scholarship through a Marketing Cloud email. The applicant then begins the scholarship process by entering data in a FormAssembly form hosted on the Alumni Association’s website. When the completed application is submitted, a new Salesforce application record is created and populated with the form data. Each application is automatically scored with a Salesforce flow according to merit-based criteria such as GPA and extracurricular activities. Demographics and status dashboards allow the program team to see real-time statistics and application progress.

The previous day-long process to prepare and assign application essays to our volunteer readers has been replaced by an Experience Cloud portal. Once a volunteer has been assigned anonymized essays, they simply log on and read the essays, grading them according to the provided rubric. Scores are tallied automatically. Scholarship recipients then complete their agreement in FormAssembly and begin their LEAD scholarship journey by confirming contact information and academic plans – and the entire process is captured in Salesforce. This year, the LEAD program processed over 1400 applications, 34 volunteers read and graded essays using the portal, and the Alumni Association offered more than 80 scholarships for the upcoming academic year. To read more about the LEAD scholarship program, please visit https://alumni.umich.edu/lead-scholars-program/.