By Stacey Dresner
NORTHAMPTON – Lander-Grinspoon Academy, The Solomon Schechter School of the Pioneer Valley (LGA) has been selected to participate in the Jewish Day School Social Media Academy.
The Academy is an intensive program designed to help Jewish Day Schools use social media more effectively. The goal of the program is for day schools to advance their strategic use of social media in areas like communication, marketing, community building, alumni relations and development. The program is funded by The AVI CHAI Foundation and assisted by Big Duck, a New York firm that specializes in communications and fundraising for non-profits.
LGA is just one of 20 Jewish day schools around the country to be selected for the Social Media Academy.
“We were so fortunate to be chosen,” said Linda Minoff, executive director of LGA, who applied to be a part of the program this summer. “It looked like something that would really help us.”
Darim Online did a trial run of the social media academy last year with 10 schools in the New York and New Jersey area. According to Darim Online, those schools advanced their strategies, launched Twitter feeds, and raised significant funds through a Facebook Causes based fundraising challenge. With the pilot program’s success, Darim Online decided to open the program up to even more day schools around the nation.
“We were incredibly impressed by the applications received,” said Lisa Colton, founder and president of Darim Online. “The day school field is hungry to put these tools to use in smart, strategic and valuable ways. It was very challenging to choose which schools would earn the 20 available spaces in this year’s cohort. At LGA, the program will be facilitated by a social media team – Minoff, Deborah Bromberg-Seltzer, the school’s head of Judaics; office administrator Ashley Ritter and board member and writer Naomi Shulman.
On Oct. 22, the team went to a kick-off event in New York, meeting with the Social Media Academy professionals and representatives of other schools who have been accepted.
Now the school will participate in monthly webinars on how to use social media, as well as private coaching and consulting. They will receive monthly coaching calls with a public relations group that will help the school create their social media plan.
“We want to use it for three things. One is to increase our reach for admission and enrollment purposes, to be out there in the broader community a little bit more so people really understand what our school is, why they should check us out, what we are not. The second is to reach donors. How are we connected into the greater community, why support us. And the third thing is that we’ll want to use it for current families to do family education,” she said.
So far, Minoff said, they are working on “re-energizing” LGA’s Facebook page and deciding whether to make use of social media outlets like Twitter and Pinterest and Linked-In.
Just meeting with representatives of Darim and other schools’ administrators, LGA has learned some handy tips for how to make social media connections.
This foray into the world of social media comes at an interesting milestone for LGA, Minoff said – it is the first year that LGA alumni are graduating from college.
“Those kids grew up with social media. Kids who are 21 or 22 years old use Facebook and Twitter. So as we start to look down the line and keep our alumni engaged and eventually have them be donors and have them come back and connect with the younger kids, we have to meet them where they are at.”