Apr. 9, 2019 – Long Island City, NEW YORK
By Jasmine Calderon
“Why did you choose to join the Save for College Program?”
This conversation-starting question allows me to assess parent intentions and steer the conversation to target what is most valuable to them. In the Save for College Program’s second year, NYC Kids RISE has made it easy to embed the program at VOICE. NYC Kids RISE provided the parent coordinators with the tools to create a yearly school plan, which not only taught me how to embed the programming, but also taught me how to create my own school events–increasing parent engagement at VOICE! Every month we have at least one event dedicated to the Save for College Program, including an upcoming NYC Scholarship Week event. These monthly events will continue until the end of the school year.
Aside from these monthly events from my school plan, starting in January, I began hosting dedicated drop-by office hours every Friday. During this time, parents are encouraged to ask questions and complete Building Block #1. In conjunction with the open office time on Fridays, I also called parents individually to set up a time most convenient to them during the week, which was also very successful. The office hours have become a great space to meet with parents, address their specific questions, discuss what the program means to them, and also preview upcoming events. While workshops are great, I always walk away from office hours with a parent who is fully engaged in the program.
I reach parents that are a part of the Save for College Program in an individualized way. Each parent receives a personalized letter, which seeks to highlight the progress of the program and includes an RSVP form at the bottom of the letter for each event. Once a workshop is held, I call parents who were unable to attend and offer a time for them to come to office hours. This two-pronged approach has allowed me to reach a significant number of parents who want to be active in the program, as well as those who prefer to not be a part of the program, which is also important. I want my communication with the parents to be meaningful. I want parents to feel like they are receiving the types of communications they truly want.
NYC Scholarship Week falls perfectly in-line with our Social Work series event entitled “Raising Independent Children,” taking place on April 9th. The Save for College Program’s philosophy highlights the notion that saving for your child’s future empowers them to one day receive the education that will facilitate their transition into full independence. Kindergarten and first-grade parents who attend the Social Work series event will receive support in completing their Building Blocks after the event.
At VOICE, our core value of wonder seeks to foster the forever learner. For many of our students, including those from low-income families, the Save for College Program plays a part of their journey toward higher education. As all parents know, time files. The Save for College Program is a great way for families to get a head start and save for the not-so-distant future.
Ms. Jasmine Calderon is the Parent Coordinator at VOICE Charter School.