Updated: Aug 4, 2021
An Innovative Approach to Empowering Parents
Earlier this summer I was on a call with a fellow school leader, and we were lamenting how awkward student recruitment efforts for charter schools could sometimes feel. We knew that the most often used methods included well intentioned things that often missed the mark - unsolicited phone calls that intrude into a family’s personal time; or door-to-door initiatives that don’t really address the particular needs and questions of families. So, naturally the conversation turned to what really works in terms of finding the right families for a school - and of course the answer was a passionate and dedicated group of parents and guardians.
Over the course of the next couple weeks we began to look into family ambassador programs that schools use to recruit like-minded families and build community, and we found surprisingly few models. Additionally, all of the models seemed to share three problematic characteristics:
They often seemed geared towards families that had the ability to put in many hours of work for little to no compensation;
They did not provide adequate collaboration between the ambassador and the school, and;
They did not offer any element of leadership or professional development for the ambassadors.
As we thought about these problems, we realized that there was space for a new, innovative type of Family Ambassador Program. One founded in equity, and aimed at reinvesting in our families. After months of research and planning, we are thrilled to introduce our model to Buffalo in the coming months!
The BCCS Family Ambassador Program
The Family Ambassador (FA) Program lifts up the voices, talents, and networks of a diverse cross section of our families in the effort to build the inclusive and equitable learning community that we envision. The FA Program is uniquely situated to realize this goal in a number of important ways:
Nothing is more powerful than a fellow parent offering their perspective on the important decision of how best to provide for a child’s educational needs.
Ambassadors reach into neighborhoods of our city in authentic and respectful ways.
Ambassadors with diverse identities help prospective families to feel a sense of belonging throughout the application and enrollment process.
The FA Program invests in our community at the grassroots level.
Goals of the Program
Build and strengthen relationships between Buffalo Commons and our community.
Generate interest in Buffalo Commons’ program among a diverse constituency.
Identify, recruit, and support a diverse group of 100 families through the application and enrollment process for launch in 2022.
Support the leadership development of our parent/guardian community.
Roles & Responsibilities of An Ambassador
FA's join the Buffalo Commons’s Family and Community Engagement team, working directly with school leadership to ensure our school’s enrollment is diverse and full. They use their existing relationships, skills, and avenues to spread the word and are supported with training and resources to do so in a way that represents the organization in an aligned, shared way while also reflecting their unique gifts.
An ambassador will:
Share the promise of Buffalo Commons with families in their networks
Build strong relationships with prospective families
Partner with families throughout the interest, application, and enrollment process
Keep detailed notes on prospective families
Attend bi-weekly team meetings
Participate in Buffalo Commons outreach events
Hiring Process & Timeline
Buffalo Commons parents apply annually to become FA's through a process that is open, transparent, and equitable.
August: Candidates submit applications.
August-September: Interviews are conducted by the BCCS Leadership Team.
September: Selection of Inaugural FA's cohort is announced.
September - October: Onboarding, training, and planning sessions begin.
October - March: Recruitment Season
April - July: Enrollment Season
FA's are employees of Buffalo Commons and are offered compensation to acknowledge the collaborative work that they do with the school-based team, the relationships and ideas for community engagement that they bring to the table, and their success in helping BCCS launch with a fully enrolled student body that reflects the diversity of Buffalo. We compensate FA’s in two ways:
A stipend of $400 each month honors approximately 20 hours of monthly work.
An additional $200 dollars for every student that the FA successfully supports through enrollment at BCCS.
Should ambassadors be interested in donating some or part of their compensation back to programming at the school, that can easily be arranged as well.
Note: As employees of BCCS, children of FA's receive a preference in our lottery.
How To Become an Ambassador
Want to learn more? You can express interest in two easy ways:
Send an email to email@example.com
Call us at 716-222-0127