TIP: The Afterschool Alliance often has afterschool postcards available for letter-writing efforts, so be sure to contact us and we will try to help.
Parents, grandparents and caretakers of kids who participate in afterschool programs; teachers; community partners; community members and volunteers.
A letter-writing party to help your community's voice be heard by policy makers.
Schedule the letter-writing party after most people's work day. Perhaps it can take place on-site at the afterschool program at a time when most parents come to pick up their kids—5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. Afterschool staff can then continue to supervise the children while the meeting takes place. Or it can be added to a parent meeting or other advisory board or community partner meeting that is already planned.
Parents and community members have a vested interest in afterschool programs. Parents not only see the direct benefits programs have on their children, but many might also depend on afterschool to provide a safe and constructive place for their children while they are at work. Community members can see the positive influence afterschool has on kids and how that in turn makes the community a better place for everyone. A letter-writing meeting presents an opportunity for you to communicate directly with a group of parents and community members about issues affecting afterschool in your community and a way for your community's voices to be heard by policy makers. Policy makers don't know how worthwhile afterschool programs are unless people tell them—and the parents of children in afterschool programs and community members can be powerful voices.
Present information simply and get the letters written in one sitting. Here are some tips:
- Create a flyer or well-crafted email letting parents and community partners know how important their letters are in determining whether afterschool programs will continue.
- Provide refreshments if possible (maybe there's a local grocery store, deli or café willing to donate). If you are able to provide refreshments, say so on the invitation.
- Have a sign-up sheet so you can contact those that attend in the future. Consider using the Afterschool for All petition as your sign-in sheet.
- Before the meeting, print up enough Sample Letters for everyone who will attend so people can use them to structure the format of their letters, or email them to everyone who has said they will attend. They can handwrite or type their letters, but it is essential that they include their name, home address and phone number on the letters.
- Provide pens, paper, envelopes and, if possible, stamps to those who will be hand-writing their letters. Perhaps these materials can be donated from an office-supply store or local company willing to make a donation to help support afterschool programs. If attendees plan to email their letters, see if they can bring a laptop or iPad to the event. Try to urge attendees to complete the letters before they leave the meeting—it may be difficult for them to find time once they leave.