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The point of your charter school is, of course, to provide a quality education for your students. But if families don’t know about your school, you’ll have trouble meeting your enrollment targets. Aim high! Charter school community awareness should be developed and nurtured in such a way as to open each school year with a wait list. It’s a simple metric, but it’s a great way to show the world at large that parents believe in you and that students want to attend your school. For new schools and mature schools alike, the ultimate goals are to have a wait list before you open your doors each school year and to become an integral part of the fabric of your community.
To accomplish these goals, you’ll want to:
Getting engaged with your community (both in person and online) will provide valuable opportunities to let your community meet and get to know not only your school’s staff and students, but also your school’s culture, values, and mission. You can have a great school, with an innovative curriculum and the most dedicated staff in the world, but if nobody knows about it, enrollment will suffer. Here are six actionable ways you can build strong community engagement:
Community Events: A consistent presence at community events, such as farmer’s markets, seasonal festivals, holiday parades, and cultural and arts events. This may include a table or a booth—but be creative; the goal is to stand out.
Social Media: Draw on the expertise of a founder or volunteer who does this full-time. Facebook and Instagram are great ways to engage the community, but only if you have regular, engaging, and sustained updates.
Informational Meetings: Provide regularly scheduled informational meetings for parents to learn about your mission and vision. If you don’t yet have facilities, consider using meeting rooms at your district office or reserving free spaces at a library or community center. Provide webinars and in-person presentations at different times of day to cater to working parents.
Business Outreach: Be sure to reach out to the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Clubs. It’s never too early to build strong relationships with members of your business community.
Facility Tours: Once you have a school, conduct frequent tours to show the public what they’re supporting.
Public Relations: Tell your story to anyone who will listen including local news, podcasts, bloggers, and well-connected community leaders. You’ll build goodwill and reach parents who may not have previously considered a charter school for their children.
Take action! Create a strategic plan to implement these six tips for engaging your community—and get the dates on the calendar now—because everything you do to share your story helps!
Support your community and your community will be more inclined to support you back! So how do you build community support? As your charter school continues to mature, you’ll have the opportunity to become a cornerstone and leader in business, arts, and civic organizations. Here are some key questions to ask:
Ultimately, community support means more than having a strong turnout at authorization hearings, though that’s important, too. It also means having strong relationships with business leaders, vendors, community groups, local media, and other charter schools.
If all goes well, you’ll be operating in your community for decades to come, and you’ll need your neighbors behind you every step of the way—including well before it comes time for authorization hearings.
Since the company’s inception in 2006, Charter School Capital has been committed to the success of charter schools. We help schools access, leverage, and sustain the resources charter schools need to thrive, allowing them to focus on what matters most – educating students. Our depth of experience working with charter school leaders and our knowledge of how to address charter school financial and operational needs have allowed us to provide over $1.8 billion in support of 600 charter schools that have educated over 1,027,000 students across the country. For more information on how we can support your charter school, contact us. We’d love to work with you!Learn More