Salsa Scoop> After School Programs, Social Networking and CRM

After School Programs, Social Networking and CRM

by Charles Lenchner

On Friday I helped train 30 of the most important people in New York in online activism and social networking. I refer of course, to the women and men who work with young people after school lets out. These ‘Out of School Time Providers’ work with the kids from the neighborhoods with the highest poverty rates. If they can engage, motivate and enrich lives, then those kids have a better chance of getting to college, finishing high school, or at the very least, staying off the streets.

We went over the usual suspects: CRM, web 2.0, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube. Then we opened it up to questions and ideas for online projects that could be used as part of after school programs. This list might be interesting to others:

Questions:

  • How do we implement programs that use the internet in the face of restrictions, safety concerns and bureaucratic hurdles?
  • How can we measure the benefits in ways that make sense to senior management and funders?
  • How can we work with a mix of kids, those with lots of access to the internet, alongside those with limited access?
  • What’s a good place to start?
  • How – and should we – get students to use language in adult ways, as opposed to slang, acronyms, etc.
  • What tools exist for moderation, privacy, and security that can be used easily?

Ideas from the brainstorm:

  • Add an online component to regular homework for extra credit. Small things, like posting a book review you read as a Facebook note.
  • Find a school in another country to establish a cybe-rpenpal program.
  • For any group that has shows (theater, music, dance) incorporate online marketing or event RSVP’s.
  • Use Cafepress and other sites to offer products for sale. Look at examples of business ideas that work – maybe some implemented by other young people.
  • Upload videos from school around a particular theme. For example: have a praise day, where students offer a compliment or praise to someone else in the community – a teacher or fellow student.
  • Explore questions that have no easy answers: how are public schools funded? What is the typical student loan debt?
  • Collect email addresses of graduating seniors, so that incoming seniors can ask them questions about their lives and experiences.
  • Use polling/voting/deliberation technologies to figure out what youth want to accomplish as a group, and leverage those interests to make programs more successful.
  • Use online advocacy to work on social issues of concern to the students.

CRM technology is becoming cheaper, easier to use and more pervasive in all kinds of environments, including education. My motive in presenting at this program was to make contacts with the nonprofits who run after school activities, in case they need to – ahem -- engage in online fundraising and advocacy. That might take a while. Still, the folks and the room taught me more about the space they work in, and I taught them about the nonprofit-tech space. What a wonderful use of my DIA approved volunteering time.

This program was offered by the Partnership for After School Education.

Building Stronger Programs Through Collaboration
2nd Annual Conference for Out-of-School Time Providers
NYC Department of Youth & Community Development
October 9, 2008

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