Bringing New Young Families into Our Day Schools

January 4, 2016

Source: AVI CHAI Foundation

Leveraging the wisdom and experience of the PJ Library Home and its many engagement programs, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and AVI CHAI launched a new effort this year called the PJ Library Day School Enrollment and Engagement (DSEE) initiative. Sixteen day schools in four different communities are currently working with an experienced PJ Library professional in their community to create engagement programs. The goal is to bring new families into the orbit of their school, give them the opportunity to feel connected to the school community, and to build relationships, which, over the long term, will lead to more enrollments.

At the core of this initiative is a set of program design principles that take to task many common tendencies people have when creating Jewish programs. These tendencies can include: not having a clear target audience for programs; making assumptions about the target audience’s Jewish knowledge, background, or interests; or simply not creating the most warm, welcoming space possible for new families, in which they can make connections to the existing community.

Here are some of the program design principles that schools are working with:

  • Defining the target audience and meeting their need
  • Showcasing the best of the school
  • Marketing that is low-barrier access
  • Warm and welcoming spaces
  • Creating relationships instead of transactions

DSEE programs are designed around the principle that families are welcomed into the school early on, perhaps before they are even contemplating where to send their kids for kindergarten, and are welcome to be there even if they ultimately choose not to send their kids to the school. Pilot DSEE schools take care not to engage in heavy-handed marketing of their school during programs, and instead to naturally weave showcased elements of their school into the program. Parent Ambassadors who have made the mistake of starting a conversation with the words, “So, I hear you’re interested in our school!” have been gently redirected to start with something that builds a social connection. By creating relationships, rather than transactions, we believe we will ultimately have more enrollments.

Read more at the AVI CHAI Blog.

Updated: Jan. 06, 2016