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Case Study: Adoption and Support Call Center from Communities In Schools of Nevada

With schools relying on remote instruction throughout Nevada in the fall of 2020, the “Connecting Kids” public-private partnership was developed between public school districts, charter schools, the Nevada Department of Education, community groups, businesses, state agencies, local municipalities, nonprofit organizations, education advocacy groups, Chambers of Commerce, food banks, and more to ensure that 100 percent of learners had access to broadband and devices. As part of the Connecting Kids initiative, Communities In Schools of Nevada, in partnership with the Clark County School District, opened the Connecting Kids Nevada virtual Family Support Center. The Family Support Center, staffed by 150 employees, operated 12 hours per day, six days per week to sign up eligible families/caregivers for subsidized internet through a partnership with Cox Communications or hotspots in partnership with T-Mobile. Support Center staff spent whatever time was necessary to connect with families/ caregivers and walk them through the entire registration process. Tami Hance-Lehr, CEO, shared, “Some of my agents would be on the phone for 30 or 45 minutes, either walking them through how the program was going to work [or] literally walking them through the application, and helping them fill it out themselves. That was a big win for us. We didn’t just say, ‘Here’s the 45 Whole Community/Ecosystem Engagement Participants highlighted how collaboration with learners and families/caregivers and between organizations helped to build trust and deepen impact. Soliciting regular feedback from learners, families, and caregivers is integral not only to hear about current, pressing needs but also to co-create solutions and thereby build trust and buy-in from community members. For example, participants from Ector County Independent School District, TX (see Case Study on page 46 for further information) mentioned that a local task force solicited feedback from learners and families/caregivers through multiple methods (e.g., social media, pencil-and-paper) to assess their levels of access to broadband and technology tools for learning. Recognizing the larger community need for digital equity (rather than just the needs of learners), the task force includes community-based organizations, local government leaders, businesses, and the school district and is identifying how everyone can benefit from affordable and available broadband. Other participants discussed their districts setting up data-sharing agreements, so that learners would not lose access to devices if they move out of the district. website. Go fill out your application.’ We literally made a deal with Cox Communications that we filled out the application on behalf of them.”

As Hance-Lehr references, the Family Support Center created a specialized process with Cox Communications that allowed call center staff to complete the registration process on behalf of learners and families/caregivers with their recorded verbal consent. This reduced adoption barriers to applications and ensured families/caregivers not only learned about programs but were able to register. If a learner or family was not ready when they were initially called, a supervisor would call back a few days later to check back in with the unconnected family and answer any additional questions they had about available programs. Because of the reputation the Family Support Center garnered for answering all questions, trustworthiness, and support, the call center became an essential hub for learners and families/caregivers and has expanded to support families/caregivers with other needs including SNAP benefits, social worker needs, housing, and more. If they could not answer a question immediately, center staff found a solution and called families/caregivers and learners back. In total, the Family Support Center has connected 18,000 families to reliable, high-speed broadband and has fielded over 45,000 calls. Even after every learner has been connected and school has returned to in-person settings, the Family Support Center call center is still open for learners and families/caregivers to reach out to. It is now operated by the Clark County School District.