How Will You Reach Out to Schools?
Before You Reach Out to Schools
- Develop a creative and memorable way to pitch your services. Distinguish your services from other groups by emphasizing your unique approach and your results. Build excitement and be creative about how you present your information.
- Share your program’s success and how it can help the schools you are targeting.
- Help principals see exactly what you offer and how it fits into his or her school’s plans or meets a specific need.
- Use data, testimonials, and references to share your success in a credible way.
- Consider connecting with the Engagement Office prior to reaching out to schools. The Partnerships Team can help you connect with the right schools.
What to Remember When Reaching Out to Schools
- Be mindful of the school-year calendar and the budgeting process timeline.
- The budgeting process for the following school year typically starts in January and ends in March. Make sure that your conversations with principals happen before or at the start of this process so they can account for any program fees in their budget.
- Try to avoid the busiest times of the school year – the start of school, the holiday season, and spring testing. Use summer as a time to start building relationships with principals while they are planning for the next school year.
- Principals can sometimes be hard to reach, so allow extra time for a response when getting in touch.
- Be proactive about your outreach so that delays in responses do not hold up your own work processes.
- Understand that principals receive a large number of emails and requests for their time every day. Be patient, but also follow up respectfully and without pressure if you do not hear back within a reasonable amount of time.
- Try to avoid cold calls and/or unplanned visits to schools, as this method usually does not work well for administrators. If you do decide to show up unannounced, be prepared to wait, patiently.
- Think about other contacts you have at schools and within the district offices.
- Use your networks! Is your neighbor a school secretary? Does a fellow church member volunteer at the school? Do your other school partners have contacts at schools you are trying to reach?
- Leverage other school or district staff you know to help you reach the principal. It is a good thing for a principal to keep hearing about you. If you already have a great relationship with a principal, ask them to make an introduction on your behalf.
- Ask for a secondary contact at the school who you can reach on shorter notice. If you do connect with a principal, always ask them for a point of contact. Sometimes another staff member with a close relationship to the principal can be an even more effective contact than the principal! Just make sure that your contact keeps the principal looped in on your conversations and the decisions you make.
- Brainstorm other ways to reach principals. It is rare for a partner to be invited to principal meetings or trainings, so think of other ways that you can get the attention of many principals simultaneously.
- Use resources such as Channel 77, the City Schools Bulletin Board, the annual Resource Fair, and social media to reach all principals at once.
- Think about other places that a principal might be – a school board meeting, a conference, or an event for other partners. Try to talk to the principal and/or other decision makers casually while attending a school or community event.
- Remember that the City Schools Engagement Office is a resource to help you connect with schools. See the contact information for the office below.
The Partnerships Toolkit is a product of the Engagement Office. If you have additional questions, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (443) 984-2000. You will reach the City Schools Call Center, so ask to be connected to the Engagement Office.