Across the nation, the COVID-19 crisis continues to impact daily life, while also exacerbating financial instability, making saving even more difficult and increasing concerns about paying for a college education. CSA programs have developed new strategies for virtual engagement, communication and messaging to support families during this difficult time. Since most programs have had to cancel in-person community events and fundraisers – social media, online newsletters and mass text services have become go-to tools for sharing resources and maintaining a sense of community from a distance. As families and their children spend more time at home, programs have also introduced new incentives and activities that allow families to continue discussing the value of long-term savings and postsecondary education, even if they are unable to save currently. Prosperity Now created a document summarizing how CSA programs are adapting their strategies in light of the pandemic so that programs can learn from one another.
To continue engagement with program participants and their families, programs have shifted their events and activities to virtual platforms. Oakland Promise’s annual campus visit, Cal Day, will be a virtual event, with teachers sharing links to activities families can do at home with their kids.
Finding new ways to connect via social media has also been crucial for program staff and families. San Francisco Kindergarten to College (K2C) has expanded its social media reach with the addition of a new Instagram account and a Spanish-language Facebook page to share information and resources available to those impacted by COVID-19. The program is also mailing out its biannual Kindergarten to College Account Activity Statements, which will include a free financial coaching service open to all K2C families.
While families and students continue to cope with a difficult economic climate, programs are also streamlining both resources and technical assistance to help families manage the crisis. Oakland Promise has shifted some of its focus to resource sharing, creating several “how-to videos” that explain the process for filing unemployment claims and accessing stimulus checks. The program also established The Dreamcatcher Fund, which will provide emergency assistance for over 1,400 Oakland Promise Scholars to continue pursuing their college degrees.
As communities continue to brace for an uncertain future, CSA programs have carved out a new role in the lives of families and students. While the changing economic and educational landscape has brought about new challenges for everyone, quick adaptation, virtual support and newly developed resources have allowed CSAs to provide immediate support for families and continue helping secure a brighter future for their children.
Originally posted by Prosperity Now on 2020-05-27 19:00:00