Grantee Corner | Marketing and Recruitment
Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grantees must strategically recruit students to help them achieve their minority group isolation goals and create diverse student populations. Here are examples of how grantees are attracting the right mix of students to their schools.
New York City Community School Districts 13 and 15
In New York City Community School Districts 13 and 15, technology use has motivated the grantee staff to rethink and redefine student recruitment; they have moved from analog to digital media, relying on real-time social media (e.g., Twitter and Facebook) postings instead of print media (e.g., flyers and brochures) for marketing and recruitment outreach.
Digital marketing takes a multifaceted approach to getting the magnet message into the community to recruit students and garner support. This includes creating strategic branding; developing an intuitive and concise website; using e-mail blasts; and connecting with social media. As a result, the grantee has been successful in attracting a larger number of parents to open houses and in registering more students for magnet schools. According to a Magnet Resource Specialist, this has been the project’s most successful recruitment period to date. By digitizing recruitment strategies, Community School Districts 13 and 15 have successfully expanded their magnet reach.
School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties
School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties (District Five) has been busy with a variety of marketing and recruitment activities to promote the exciting magnet opportunities available to families. Beyond the traditional activities of open houses, magnet fairs, and promotional mailings, District Five has taken creativity a step further.
Seven Oaks Elementary School MEDIA Magnet has focused on social media to engage parents and the community. Staff and students have created and published several short films that highlight the innovative ways the program helps students discover how their curricular studies, combined with the magnet theme, can help them succeed in future careers.
The Spring Hill High School Career Pathways Magnet marketing strategy uses small VIP group informational sessions and principal- and student-led tours. The number of families for each meeting is limited to eight, to allow for personal conversations and connections with each family. Tours are offered three times a day (morning, afternoon, and evening), so parents can see the school in action.
Students from Irmo Middle School International Academic Magnet display their work at multiple community events during the year to showcase and promote their theme. For example, the district hosted a national event— Share Fair Nation—that highlighted STEAM education and innovation for teachers and families.
At Choice Night for Irmo High International School for the Arts, several magnet theme photo booths were set up so visiting students could have their pictures taken by Irmo photography students, who then posted the pictures on the school's social media (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook). The visiting students could tag themselves so their friends and family could see the fun they were having at the school while learning about the different themed programs.
Dutch Fork Elementary School Academy of Environmental Sciences hosted a sign contest for the staff. Different staff visited community neighborhoods to pose for pictures while holding signs advertising the school. The staff then strategically placed the signs for the public to view, increasing the community’s awareness of the magnet program.
Pasadena Unified School District
In Pasadena Unified School District, MSAP schools focused magnet school marketing and student recruitment on creating high-quality marketing collateral with consistent branding. In 2004, Pasadena had 63 private schools, which educated a third of the city’s school-aged children and caused the proportion of white students in the city’s public schools to decrease to 16 percent. In 2014, Board member, Renatta Cooper, stated that Pasadena has more private schools per capita than any city of its size in the United States. For the grantee, this meant making the magnet school marketing collateral equivalent to the private school materials and ensuring that the new brand was consistent and recognizable throughout the community.
The magnet program recruited families through the following recruitment cycle; each of the four phases had marketing collateral customized for the needs of families as they moved through the recruitment and admissions process.
- Raise interest in the school. Collateral produced: New logo, brochures, pop-up banner, and table cloth for community events.
- Get families to visit the school. Collateral produced: Monthly themed events for current and potential families, weekly tours of the schools.
- Inform families about the people and programs at the school. Collateral produced: Take-away folder of information about the school, including how to apply, a message from the principal, and details on benefits of thematic instruction.
- Get families to apply to the school. Collateral produced: Personalized family letter from the principal, welcoming them to the school and providing a detailed explanation of how to enroll.
These stories show that MSAP grantees are using thoughtful approaches and the latest technology to enroll diverse students and engage the community.
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