6 Ways to Start a School Program

January 29, 2015 | 2 min to read

Any educator can tell you about the immense value of after school programs—and so can many WPN retailers.

But how do you get started? Who should you reach out to and how? Here are six ideas:

1. A Student or Staff Member from Your Player Base

Rook's Comics and Games after-school gaming club started with a suggestion from a regular, who acted as a liaison with the school.

2. A Principal or Director

According to Erin Neubert, director of an elementary school in Chicago, a principal or director will have the most information about staff sponsorship, facility availability, and transportation.

Contact information can usually be found on the school website, and a phone call or formal letter is more effective than an email.

Erin's tips for contacting schools:

Secure a reference from a parent or teacher

Present several variations of your program—schools like having multiple "packages" to choose from

Principals talk to a lot of vendors. Think of it like a job interview

3. Existing After School Organizations

Bobby Whitcomb of Excelsior Comics and Games started his "Monday Magic Class" at Fowler School after contacting a local organization called FASC (Fowler After School Club), whose information is available on the school's website.

4. A Parent Teacher Organization

Sue Hytjan, a Minnesota educational professional, says that if you're going to reach out to a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), prepare your plan well ahead of time and ask permission from the principal first.

PTOs can be a great way to spread the word with other students and parents—especially if you have a child in the district.

5. Home Schoolers

Matthew Micetic of Red Castle Games found that parents of home-schooled kids were eager to find a social outlet for their kids, and the contacts he made then led to local public schools and beyond.

Matthew's tips for working with schools:

  • Maintain a professional appearance (i.e. store-branded shirt and name tag)
  • Prepare a document outlining the benefits, give it to any school officials you meet with
  • Offer school officials regular updates outlining the continued benefits, include hard data
  • Don't neglect the female students.

6. A Public Librarian

According to Spring Lea Henry, a former teen services librarian, public librarians who work with kids and teens are always on the lookout for fun and educational programming for their patrons.

Step one is designing your program. Step two is reaching out. Come back tomorrow for a downloadable template you can use!