Online Program

Strategic planning, grants management, and program monitoring: Supporting key functions through an electronic program information center

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Norm Hess, MSA, Chapter Program Support, March of Dimes Foundation, White Plains, NY
Kelly Ernst, MPH, MCH Impact, March of Dimes Foundation, White Plains, NY
Marco Pena, Information Technology, March of Dimes Foundation, White Plains, NY
Scott Berns, MD, MPH, FAAP, Chapter Program Support, March of Dimes Foundation, White Plains, NY
Background & Significance

In recent years, March of Dimes has transitioned its 48 chapters from a traditional annual program planning cycle to a multi-year strategic mission investment (SMI) approach.  Our existing electronic program information center (EPIC) was not suitable to support the information needs of stakeholders undertaking this new approach.  After searching for a replacement system and finding none, we embarked on a complete redesign of our existing system with active involvement of program staff from all levels (national, regional, and state) of the organization.


A design group of program staff provided input, reviewed plans, and tested the system.  We developed a matrix of information needs to analyze the types of data required by stakeholders in various levels of the organization.   Whereas the previous system focused primarily on activity reporting and monitoring, the design group developed plans for modules to support assessment, priority setting, program planning, grants management, and reporting/evaluation.


The revisions were accomplished with less than 0.5 FTE in IT support.  The system stores qualitative and quantitative data on over $5 million in community grants and program activities reaching more than 2 million health professionals and consumers annually.  Feedback from users has been very positive regarding the data entry process and the utility of information for program management.


This process provided valuable lessons regarding data collection and use to support strategic initiatives.  These lessons are transferrable to a variety of public health and non-profit settings.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Describe how the adoption of a more strategic approach to program planning can change stakeholders’ needs for program data and information flow. Discuss how information needs at various levels of an organization can influence the design of program information systems. Identify ways that program data can be used more effectively to drive strategic decisions and to manage grant-funded projects.

Keyword(s): Evaluation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been with the March of Dimes for 13 years and have been integrally involved in the development and implementation the strategic mission investment approach to chapter program planning, as well as the redesign of our electronic program information center. I have a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University and have over 20 years of nonprofit management experience.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.