I'm not an afterschool professional, but I was quickly reminded why I enjoy working on behalf of these individuals so much. While there's seemingly always some uncertainty in their field, I heard not one person complain about what's likely the biggest challenge they will ever face. Ideas were shared, and questions were asked with one recurring theme: What CAN we do to move forward?
I get questions from those of you with offerings for afterschool about the future of afterschool. Here are some of the key things I learned and some suggestions for how you can be helpful:
- No one really knows yet what the near future of afterschool programs will look like. It's going to largely depend on the state they are located in, financing and administrative/family/community support. Much like the schools, many are working to create a variety of plans based on different scenarios, so they can be as prepared as possible.
How you can help: Ask them questions to gain a better understanding of their challenges. Find out where they are in the process. Offer ideas you've heard from other clients. And be flexible and creative in your offerings to fit their needs.
- Their programs WILL be different. There will be new guidelines based on the CDC, which will require a lot of staff training; trauma informed practices will be called upon; social and emotional intelligence will gain greater meaning; demonstrating patience with staff, families and schools and thinking outside of the box when it comes to serving youth.
How you can help: Again, ask questions about their biggest challenges. Educate yourself on these practices so you can better understand and predict their pain points. Is now even an appropriate time for them to consider your product or offering or would simply a kind offer to contact them again at a later time work better at creating a long-lasting relationship?
- Afterschool programs will be more critical than ever. Many will be working closely with school administrators as they could become an integral part of serving all students and perhaps families who are heading back to work.
How you can help: This is good news for you! Afterschool programs will need your offerings as their own expectations evolve and grow. What else might you have to offer that you hadn't thought of previously for this market?
- Their #1 priority is still the youth they serve. Their priorities of keeping youth safe, providing environments that foster growth and enrichment and allow for engagement will not waiver.
How you can help: I've learned through working with many of you, that you are not very different from our members! Many of you have created your organizations, products, curriculum and offerings with the needs of afterschool professionals, and the youth they serve, in mind. Over the past few months, I'm delighted and encouraged when I hear of the amazing things you've designed to help them, and your organizations, to get through this challenging time.
Ready to move forward with sharing your offerings to NAA members? NAA offers a variety of advertising options that will help share with our 30,000+ members how you're helping be a part of the recovery of afterschool. For more details now, please download a media kit here.
Written by Jill Carroll, Media Consultant with The National AfterSchool Association. "AfterSchool of Thought" is a blog series with tips and advice on marketing to the afterschool community.
Have questions or seek assistance on how you can better promote your offerings to the afterschool market? Contact Jill at email@example.com or 866-252-7108.