SWITCH IT UP — CONSIDER NEW ways to initiate community involvement IN OST:
- Collaborate with partners to convene community conversations focused on Out-of-School Time — Use planning tools and templates developed by the Harwood Institute for United Way Worldwide, as shown on the Additional Resources page.
- Develop an action plan for Out-of-School Time — Give both individuals and representatives from organizations you have engaged in community conversations the opportunity to participate in the planning process.
- Educate and inform employees at local businesses about the importance and impact of Out-of-School Time — Do this by capitalizing on your United Way's workplace and Campaign for the Common Good campaigns.
- Urge donors to also volunteer as tutors and mentors in local OST programs — Remember that mentoring and tutoring programs often need “higher” skilled volunteers to fill these roles; literacy-focused OST programs could benefit from volunteer readers. Your United Way can also help with the recruitment and placement of these volunteers. Click here to see United Way Worldwide’s guide for engaging volunteers to support early grade reading.
- Hold engaging afterschool events for students — Consider hosting a Lights on Afterschool event, which the Afterschool Alliance holds every October. Visit their website for tools, tips, and resources that can help you make the most of your planned event. Or, plan your own afterschool event!
- Urge community residents/United Way supporters to write editorials for the local paper — Tout the benefits and importance of providing OST opportunities for the community’s young people.
- Ask community residents/United Way supporters to write their congressional representatives — Encourage them to ask for support of continued federal funding for Out-of-School Time, and explain that they can do this through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program. Develop template letters that can be easily customized for this purpose. To see United Way’s policy agenda for the 114th Congress, click here (the OST-specific material begins on page 9).
- Provide a venue for community residents to share their personal stories — Use this space as an opportunity for people to widely share how an Out-of-School Time opportunity helped fuel their own growth and development. This could be done at an event, like a summit or a forum, or it can be done online. Leverage your United Way's communication mechanisms, including your website, to share personal stories. Check out how the Valley of the Sun United Way incorporated stories into their website here.
- Survey and/or convene focus groups of youth and their families — Ask them about their educational goals, the opportunities and supports they need to be successful, the kinds of out-of-school opportunities they would like to have access to, and the reasons they do or do not participate.
To learn more tips on effective engagement practices, head to the Learning Modules.