Case Study: TargetX and City Year

City Year Decreases Time to Application Submission with TargetX Recruitment Suite

Challenges: City Year’s decentralized, non-mobile technology meant it couldn’t fully track and support prospective applicants, use and respond to accurate data, or be nimble on-the-go

In 2015, City Year, a national education nonprofit that recruits young adults to serve as AmeriCorps members to support students in high-need schools, was growing at a rapid pace. City Year’s strategic plan called for increasing the number of AmeriCorps members, and to do that, City Year’s technology strategy needed to evolve. At the time, City Year was using multiple homegrown systems to handle recruitment and admissions and that decentralized approach was unable to adequately support their growing applicant numbers.

“We were using a Salesforce-based CRM for the recruitment side, but our admissions process was still in our homegrown legacy system,” says Jason Holton, senior vice president of talent acquisition at City Year. “Being unable to clearly see how our applicants were moving through the process from lead generation to day one of service was a significant challenge and our business results were not optimized.”

The decentralized approach made it difficult for the team to understand where applicant roadblocks occurred during the admissions process, which made providing customer service support along the way all the more challenging. As an organization committed to using data and analytics to drive results, City Year found that the lack of access to sophisticated and actionable data within their existing applicant tracking system made it difficult to meet their business goals.

As an AmeriCorps program, City Year is held to strict federal compliance standards. But with disparate data sets spread across multiple systems, the compliance process was always a heavy lift for City Year staff.

Another pain point for City Year was a lack of mobile accessibility. City Year recruiters spend a lot of their time on the go, traveling to events across cities. The inability to pull up prospect information on laptops, tablets, and smartphones put the team at a significant disadvantage in the field.

Christine Sullivan, vice president of IT services, says, “City Year’s technology strategy is all cloud-based; the organization, along with the IT team, invested 18 months of time and effort moving functionality into SaaS-based platforms. IT has a standing promise to the organization, ‘if you can get to the web, you can get to your tools,’ and we needed to deliver an updated application solution to keep that promise. The ROI to our recruiting and admissions team was immediate in terms of returning time to focus on building a diverse corps to serve our students.”

When City Year learned about TargetX, there was some hesitation since the solution is designed for higher education. Sullivan says, “After working with the TargetX team, we quickly came to the conclusion that this was an organization we wanted to partner with to implement the right solution for our business partners. Our use case(s) were not unlike other higher-ed institutions—the flexibility and scalability that TargetX offers were both driving factors for the selection of the product.”

Solutions: The TargetX Recruitment Suite and Online Application meets City Year needs through one centralized system

The TargetX Recruitment Suite provides institutions with everything they need out-of-the-box, allowing them to transform enrollment management and drive admissions productivity. The Recruitment Suite and Online Application enabled City Year to combine its recruitment and admissions processes into one central location, effectively supporting the massive scaling of their organization with streamlined processes, a higher level of data analytics, and a mobile-first design.

“We finally have one clear picture of our prospects and data, and everyone on the team has the same experience in the same system,” says Holton. “That’s been a huge asset for our growth and the efficiency of our departments.”

That clear picture has empowered the City Year team to move applicants through the system more easily, communicate at critical junctures, increase touchpoints, and support applicants when necessary towards completion of their application. “No more Excel spreadsheets,” says Holton. “The Online Application has functionality and design that is familiar and easy for our applicants to use, and the data bears this out: this year, 96 percent of our applicants agreed that the City Year application was easy to complete and were satisfied with the overall application.”

The admissions team can now access the TargetX Recruitment Suite on the road, at home, and anywhere else they choose. Being able to access truly centralized data and leverage robust reporting features have helped the City Year team communicate better across departments and improved mobility for the team.

Results:A significant decrease in time to submission

Since launching with TargetX, City Year has significantly decreased the amount of time candidates are spending from the start of an application to submission.

“We are really excited about this data point,” says Holton. “The amount of time to application submission has dropped an average of 5.2 days, which shows that we have created a cleaner environment for our applicants to work in, made the application easier to use, and are providing better customer service as applicants move through the process.”

City Year at a Glance

  • Founded in 1988
  • A member of the AmeriCorps national service network
  • Members serve full-time for 11 months in partner schools
  • Active in 28 cities across the United States

TargetX Solutions


City Year needed new CRM tools to recruit and admit thousands of City Year AmeriCorps members annually, along with:

  • a centralized system to holistically manage recruitment and admissions in a way that reflects our business processes and improves efficiencies and conversion rates;
  • easy-to-use functionality, an online application, and a clean design to make the application process easier and more streamlined and in line with Generation Z expectations;
  • strong security that protects applicant data;
  • a mobile-first design that allows City Year staff to access tools on-the-go

Learn How TargetX Can Help You Achieve Results