Demographics: Click here to see individual school data, as reported by the National Center for Educational Statistics.
Using K-12 Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) to Beat the Declining Enrollment Odds and Increase Staffing
In 2019 and 2020 the STRIVE Prep community of public charter schools was faced with the difficult challenge of declining student enrollment that was worsened by the pandemic. In the Denver area where STRIVE Prep is located, housing costs were rising, forcing families to leave the area or consider other school options. Competition for students increased greatly, and as their student counts dwindled, STRIVE Prep was forced to downsize classrooms, and even considered staff cuts. School leaders realized that to become more sustainable, they needed to focus on increasing student enrollment. But the school lacked strategic focus. There was little consistency in efforts to reach its enrollment. There was no person on staff dedicated to student enrollment. The family experience was not a focus and communication with families was inconsistent across the 10 schools. The leadership team at STRIVE Prep realized they needed to develop their differentiation story, or figure out their “why”, and then work to shift the culture to support that. They committed to focusing on increasing student enrollment and making it easier for families to learn about and enroll at their schools.
The first step to solving their student enrollment and teacher retention challenges, brought about by decreasing classroom sizes, was to add someone to their team that was fully focused on increasing enrollment and improving the registration and application process.This enrollment leader, who was coached by SchoolMint’s Chief Enrollment Officer, began by developing a strategy to attract and enroll new students to the school. This strategy included differentiating themselves from other schools in the area, implementing consistent enrollment practices, building ambassador and volunteer programs, improving family communications, and year-round community outreach and events.
With this new person in the seat, STRIVE Prep turned its focus to the resources needed to execute the plan and for that, they looked to SchoolMint for Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) services and products. STRIVE Prep used K-12 Strategic Marketing Services, including a secret shopper program in two of their schools to aid in customer service assessments and training, as well as other easy marketing hacks to create their brand story and increase enrollment. School leaders also invested in SchoolMint’s technology tools for Student Registration, Applications (which is also used by Denver Public Schools), and the Teacher Coaching and Development platform.
STRIVE Prep Y/Y Round 1 applicants (as of 2/16/21):
6th to 8th
9th to 12th
*Note: District (Denver Public Schools) Y/Y round 1 applicants during this timeframe were declining across all grades.
After a year or more of implementing SchoolMint’s SEM solutions STRIVE Prep became the leader in attracting, enrolling, and retaining students in their area. Despite a general decline in student enrollment in the public district, STRIVE Prep reached its enrollment targets. This included kindergarten enrollment, which declined nationally during COVID. In fact, STRIVE Prep’s Kindergarten registration increased so much that they are considering hiring additional teachers. They have mastered the art of sibling acquisition and using data and insights from the SchoolMint platform to inform their student enrollment and retention efforts.
STRIVE Prep was not only able to retain teachers during the pandemic, but with their soaring enrollment numbers, they’re now in a position to hire more. Their teachers are well-supported, motivated, and engaged. Teachers and families alike are now inspired by their school experiences and are sharing stories with family and friends in the community, which is helping spread the word about their schools and increase enrollment. Leadership believes that all of this is a result of their strategic focus on marketing, school climate and culture, operations, customer service, and instruction. STRIVE Prep in Denver has created a sustainable future for their organization for many years to come.
“The joy of being able to see parents who were unaware of their options, now find their home and place at STRIVE Prep—thriving and hearing their feedback has made this SchoolMint partnership worth every penny.”
Jean Lo Nguyenloc, STRIVE's Senior Director of Central Operations