AWARDS Certification: Turning Super-Users into Experts for 10 Years

By Jack Herzberg and Elizabeth Reina, Training Division, Foothold Technology

In 2009, Foothold Technology started the AWARDS Certification program, with the intention of giving users the opportunity to become AWARDS “super-users” with advanced knowledge of the software. Going through Certification offers these super-users increased professional development opportunities, but also a way to assist others at their agencies in realizing the full benefits of using AWARDS to document programs and services.  


Since that time, almost 40 people, from over 25 agencies in five states and the U.S territory of Guam, have completed all three levels of courses. Each level is a dynamic mix of lectures, case studies, and practice exercises, all of which are highly interactive. Each year, the courses have been enhanced by the participation of trainees who bring their experience and expertise to share with the other participants. “Sometimes, a refresher on pieces of AWARDS functionality like ResourceTracker or FormBuilder, will spur new ideas and conversation among attendees,” says Foothold Trainer, Elizabeth Reina. “I’m always thrilled when attendees start providing tips to each other and collaborate with each other based on their own use of AWARDS and the examples they share. Certification really gives participants the chance to examine AWARDS on a deeper level outside their day-to-day use, and it’s a great opportunity for attendees to share best practices with other AWARDS super-users outside their own agency.”

AWARDS Certification

Certification sets graduates apart from basic users by making them subject matter experts who are uniquely able to manage every aspect of working with both Foothold Technology and AWARDS, from managing the implementation process (whether it be the overall implementation of the software, or a more focused implementation of a single module or process within the software), to training new staff, to handling Help Desk requests quickly and efficiently.

Upon completion of AWARDS Certification, Nicole Gniewkowski, Director of Performance Improvement & Corporate Privacy Officer at Volunteers of America – Greater New York, shared her thoughts about the impact Certification has had on her work. “My agency was using the AWARDS software mostly as a word processing tool prior to my certification training. Since training I have been able to implement many new standards at my agency that involve the use of AWARDS. This has helped streamline the process for intake and admission, and is maximizing our use of FormBuilder forms,” says Nicole. “I also created an AWARDS basic training for my agency that all new staff members are required to take. The implementation of this training has been integral in helping us get our workforce to really understand how AWARDS works and what it can do. The training course that I created was directly related to my certification experience, as I took the information that [Foothold Technology trainers] gave me, tailored it a little to meet the needs of my agency, and was able to train over 150 people in FY18. The skills that I learned during certification have been something that I use every day on the job.”

“Since training I have been able to implement many new standards at my agency that involve the use of AWARDS. This has helped streamline the process for intake and admission, and is maximizing our use of FormBuilder forms.”

Nicole Gniewkowski,
Director of Performance Improvement & Corporate Privacy Officer
Volunteers of America – Greater New York

We love these types of stories and we hope to hear even more next month, when we kick off our 10th round of AWARDS Certification courses. If you know a graduate of Certification, be sure to congratulate them on their achievement, not only for what they learned, but for what they contributed to their agency and to the Certification courses! Think you have what it takes? Learn more about Certification, take the exam, or sign up for our next session by contacting our training department at

About Foothold Technology
Foothold Technology, an electronic record, EHR vendor and human services software provider, offers web-based software for human service providers that eases the burden of documentation, providing agencies with the freedom to focus on their Mission. More than 1,000 agencies nationwide count on Foothold’s AWARDS software to manage their services, including Mental Health, Alcohol & Substance Use Disorder, Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, Homeless & Housing, Employment & Training, Seniors, Veterans, Youth & Family, and more. Having originated from three agencies in 2000, AWARDS is a complete electronic record and EHR software for human service providers that also supports administrative activities, including facilities maintenance, human resources, scheduling and alerts, audit reports, and automated billing. AWARDS offers full interoperability with any other federally certified system for participation in Health Information Exchanges (HIE) and Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs). It is also the only record-keeping system that is certified as both a Behavioral Health EHR software system and an HMIS software package (Homeless Management Information System). With roots and origins in human services, no software vendor is better prepared to support you than Foothold Technology. For more information, visit