Publicize the Program

An important component of getting started is ensuring your district can make sure all key stakeholders are aware of the success mentor program and how it will benefit students in the district. A well-publicized program is more likely to attract mentors, secure support from school staff, enlist participation from families and receive approval from district decision makers.

Consider taking the following steps
  • Create a standard brochure or program overview. This overview should be a concise, easy to understand description of the program that can be broadly distributed to key stakeholders, serve as a reference for district or site leaders when they talk about the program, and serve as the basis for information that appears on the district website.

  • Develop a communications plan. Identify how you will announce the program at key forums and meetings with principals, the school board and the executive leadership of the district. Consider issuing a formal announcement that shares why the district is launching an elementary success mentor program. Include a few details about how the program will operate, and name the short and long-term goals. Ideally, selection of participating schools will be completed prior to an announcement so that the principals of each school can be prepared to respond to questions from either the community or the media. If key community partners are involved in the launch, include them in the formal announcement.

  • Determine how your district will reach out and notify the parents of students selected to participate in the program. Before a volunteer mentor meets a student, the district should work with the school site to make sure parents are notified, in writing and/or through a phone call, that their child has been chosen to be part of the success mentor program. The district should determine in advance how this will occur and who is responsible. As part of thinking through notification, the district should determine whether or not it needs to seek permission, ideally by offering an opt-out option, to participating students. Consult with your legal department to determine what level of parent permission is needed so that schools can build in securing the necessary level of consent into program operations. In general, if mentors are district employees, consent is not seen as necessary from a legal perspective for program participation or sharing of a child’s attendance and academic data. Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) has created guidelines for data sharing. See below.

A new data policy in Baltimore provides community partners who work with and on behalf of the school system an avenue for data sharing. The May 2016 policy covers all data held by the Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) for students and personnel, such as student achievement, student demographics, school climate, attendance, absenteeism and curriculum. The policy provides guidelines to protect privacy and ensures that data sharing agreements follow the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). BCPS established a data sharing agreement that includes criteria for accessing personally identifiable data, and outlines procedures for data sharing with community partners, researchers, and vendors. The agreement includes a step-by-step process for the district when a data-sharing request is received.