KIPP Philadelphia: Nudging Graduates on FAFSA and Workshops
KIPP Philadelphia is a college-preparatory public charter school that is part of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) network. KIPP supports 1,625 students across four schools in Philadelphia and boasts a college-going rate of over 70%. KIPP Philadelphia uses Signal Vine to text students who have graduated from the program that are either attending college or entering the workforce. The purpose of the texting program is to nudge students to renew the FAFSA and check account statements. Alumni entering the workforce get texts about job opportunities around the city and workshops where they can expand their skill set.
Reaching out to over 500 students each month by calling or texting from a personal cell phone was a time-consuming challenge for KIPP Philadelphia staff. They spent hours trying to connect with students, which meant less time to devote to other projects. Another challenge for staff in the alumni program is that they don’t work closely with the students until after they graduate. Since they don’t have many opportunities to build relationships face-to face, it can be tough to build trusting student-staff relationships. Before texting, students were hesitant to reach out to KIPP staff when they needed help.
Before graduating from high school, KIPP students meet with staff in the alumni program to learn about the program and the benefits of opting in. Students have the chance to opt out in the first text message, but few choose to do so. There are three staff members on the team and each one has a designated caseload of students. Staff members are responsible for responding to their own students through Signal Vine’s text messaging platform. They all set time on their calendars every morning as a reminder to check their message inboxes.
It now takes only five minutes to send a message to 500 students. Instead of spending all of their time sending messages, staff now have time to focus on more closely helping students with specific issues they’re facing. Students and staff also benefit from a more communicative, trusting relationship. Texting has helped jumpstart student-staff relationships, and students are more comfortable coming to KIPP staff with issues they need help solving.
Students are very responsive to text messages and prefer texting to other types of communication. They respond within minutes to text messages about the FAFSA and scholarship payments. Encouragement texts without a question receive student replies. The time KIPP staff has saved with texting has given the team more opportunities to connect with students and work on other student support projects.
Signal Vine has been essential to reaching all of our students. It has really changed the way that we do our work and has saved us hundreds of hours!
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