FYI-Sending Messages of Hope During a Crisis
Updated: Apr 6
For almost a month, the news cycle has been dominated by the ever-changing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. New information and recommendations from state and federal officials has resulted in continuous modifications for educational instruction across the United States.
If you visit your Facebook page, peruse your Twitter feed or skim posts on Instagram and LinkedIn, it's no surprise that COVID-19 dominates the social conversation. There is no shortage of opinions, guidelines, complaints and feedback. Afterall, this is an unprecedented crisis in modern history and we are all facing various challenges as we amend our ways of life to stay safe and healthy.
Many school districts are utilizing social media to connect with parents and students, sharing updates about postponements or closures. Stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders are in effect for most of us and we are consuming more social media content. According to Tech Crunch, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are reporting a 40+ increase in usage for users ages 18 to 34.
We have been inundated with negativity due to the gravity of this crisis. Educators are showing their strength and power by being fluid and flexible as closures are extended. Many educators are not only working to educate our children, they are teaching their own children at home as well. Students are faced with a lack of social interaction outside of the home and following agendas to keep up with instructional materials. Many face limited technology, connectivity and worse, limited food at home.
For the Foundation Innovation Virtual Panel Discussion, we received a question from Katie that many of you may be wondering. "How should (education foundations) provide hope/encouragement on social media?"
This is a wonderful question, Katie. The role of education foundations as a support system for school districts is needed now more than ever. Social media and communications such as electronic newsletters are a great way to continue engagement with district staff, students, parents, donors and other stakeholders. We could all use a boost right now!
Here are some suggestions:
Reach out to district staff, send a district wide email, and assess if any grants funded by your education foundation are being utilized to support e-learning or at-home learning during this time. Ask teachers for photos, or use photos from your archives to spotlight your grants in action and show that it has now become a crucial service from your district.
Utilize quotes provided by students from scholarship applications regarding the benefits of receiving an education from your district. Spotlight those quotes in a graphic or post to highlight the outstanding work of your district.
Pull quotes from your Academic Achievement Banquet programs or forms about the phenomenal work of teachers. Tag that teacher, include their photo in a post and share it on social media.
As Suzi Pagel, CFRE with Foundation Innovation recommends, enlist board members to share your education foundations posts highlighting the good work of the district, educators and praising students for their flexibility during this challenge. Encourage board members to share what they love about the ISD and share their post on your page.
Share your district's posts. Many ISD's are posting screengrabs of virtual staff meetings or pictures from leadership team meetings. Share those photos and praise the staff for their commitment to continuing the learning process.
Spotlight initiatives providing food and other needed resources to students, teachers and their families.
Compile some of the social media post information into an electronic newsletter to share with your donors.
The Leander Educational Excellence Foundation is using #SomeGoodNews to support their district's staff by sending words of encouragement and support through their Staff Recognition Campaign. The first 100 staff members who are recognized will receive a 1/2 hour facial or massage provided by a donor. What a fantastic effort by an education foundation to not only encourage staff but give them something to look forward to when we all come out on the other side of this pandemic.
Here's your chance to share your district's good news!
Maya Golden Bethany
Consultant, Foundation Innovation