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March 10, 2022

Recruitment is a full-time job of your 21st CCLC program. Reaching the students you need to reach and staffing your program with dedicated members of the community are tied for first as your top priorities. With tools from the Human Resources course and Recruiting and Retaining High School Students Click & Go, as well as other tips and tricks from Y4Y, those prized people up and down your organization will vote YES with their feet.

The Role of Prized Partners

Reaching the students who need you most could range from small obstacles in getting the word out up to students “disappearing” at the beginning of the pandemic. Meanwhile, school-day teachers are beyond exhausted, and may not be your ideal “go-to” hires for out-of-school time. Like everything you do in your program, community partnerships can ease the way. Check out Y4Y’s Involving Community Partners Checklist to start thinking about fresh ways those partnerships can help you recruit students and staff. Some other tips include:

  • Reaching out to your school counselors. Share a bit about your program and leave them materials to distribute to families they feel might need you the most. Also ask them about services in the community they have been connecting families with, and whether you can share in those efforts — both to avoid duplication and to make new connections.
  • Connecting with faith-based organizations. Ask if they’d be willing to run a blurb about your program in their bulletin. For example, “The local grant-funded afterschool and summer program is inviting students of King Middle School to participate in a fun, academic-based enrichment environment. They’re also recruiting passionate community members to work with students directly, or to partner in new ways, according to you or your business’s strengths. Email the program’s director, Jane Doe, at [insert email address here] today. Thank you!”
  • Performing an internet search. Use key words and phrases like “social services for children and families,” “foundations supporting children and families,” and supports for children and families,” and add “near me.” You might be surprised at the resources you’ll discover, especially in urban centers. Rural communities can search “foundations/services/supports for students and families in my state.” There may be organizations in your nearest urban centers or university towns that are eager to partner with rural programs. Ask these new partners if they have a volunteer or donor base they can reach out to for your staff and volunteer recruitment efforts.

Upper Grade Challenges

Most elementary programs have little or no difficulty recruiting students. You may be among those many programs having to turn students away! Recruiting for upper grades, however, can be challenging. Some tips include:

  • Checking in regularly with your students to assess their ever-changing interests and to be sure your activities and program emphasis reflect those interests.
  • Viewing current students as your ambassadors; try offering incentives for a “bring a friend” day, such as entering a drawing to choose the theme for your culminating event. Related Y4Y tools include the Youth Ambassador Action Plan Template and Job Description Template.
  • Checking out Y4Y’s Click & Go on recruiting and retaining high school students, which offers further guidance and additional tools for reaching the older students that need you most.

Winning Recruitment of Prized Staff

Your program is in fierce competition to attract qualified and enthusiastic people. A few ideas include:

  • Reviewing the Y4Y Human Resources and Managing Your 21st CCLC Program courses, especially tools like the Human Resources Planning Checklist, to help choose your recruitment team and work together to identify candidates.
  • Starting with families. Many family members will jump at the chance to work around their child. They can also get the word out to trusted neighbors and friends, which offers a little instant confidence in those recommendations.
  • Setting up a job-sharing child care co-op or looking into whether one already exists in your community. If parents who are interested in joining the program have children at home too young to be in school or in your program, but have no means to pay child care, connect them with other parents in the same boat. You’ll also be amplifying their program buy-in!
  • Dialing up the college engagement. Look into setting up a table at your local college activities fair and sell the program! Bring sample activities and event photos, and post a list of majors that relate directly to the job, such as education, social services, ethnic and women’s studies, all things STEM, city/urban planning, and management and communications, just to name a few.

Even before the pandemic, the spirit of prizing people and relationships was at the center of your 21st CCLC program. Keeping that spirit alive for adults and students alike is more important today than it’s ever been. And when new people discover the value you place on community through that process of recruiting them to your program, they’ll be invested in helping you maintain that sense of community. Retaining those you recruit will be your ultimate prize.