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Social Marketing Research Helps Market a Comprehensive After-school Program

Parents and Communities for Kids (PACK) — Improving learning outcomes for children, ages 6 to 10, by participating with their parents

Case Study


Research shows when parents take responsibility for their children’s learning, children become more successful in school and life. This was the catalyst behind Parents and Communities for Kids, “PACK”, which began as a low income, grassroots initiative in the New Haven, CT area,funded and supported by the Wallace Foundation and managed by the New Haven Community Foundation. PACK was designed to improve learning outcomes for children, ages 6 to 10, by participating with their parents in fun learning activities and programs outside of school. Eighteen local organizations, including public libraries, museums, parks and other community organizations are directly affiliated with PACK. Social marketing research was needed to determine parents’ attitudes and behaviors towards learning activities outside of school, as well as to identify how and where parents get their information about activities and programs taking place outside of school and what barriers prevent them from participating. The information provided direction in developing PACK messaging, materials, communication, programming and evaluation.



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In planning the research approach, we gave special consideration to the importance of community involvement and ownership in the success of the PACK project. Based on demographic data for the area, 300 intercept interviews would provide a 95% accuracy rate for statistical validity. Established objectives:

  • Identify and train residents from PACK’s three targeted communities to conduct face¬to-face interviews.

  • Conduct face-to-face interviews with 300 parents/caregivers of children ages 5 to 10.

  • Capture names and addresses of the 300 people interviewed for follow-up focus group sand pilot rollout testing.

  • Pre-screen for candidates willing to participate in follow-up focus groups.


We interviewed stakeholders from PACK’s program, social marketing and evaluation teams to determine critical information needed. An intercept survey and “What is PACK” handoutwas developed in English and Spanish versions. Research was designed to: (1) identify current attitudes, behaviors and barriers toward participating in parent/child out-of-school learning activities, and (2) determine the best methods for communicating with the residents. We collaborated with PACK staff, its Social Marketing Committee and the 18 affiliated organizations to identify local residents to serve as intercept interviewers.

Twenty-three local parent activists were trained as intercept interviewers by us in three separate training sessions in October 2003. Three more local interviewers were later recruited to help reach survey goals and engage more Spanish-speaking residents. Interview packets were distributed during training. Team leaders were identified for each area and given additional materials if interviewers needed them. Face-to-face interviews were conducted at community events. Three follow-up focus groups were held, one in Spanish, to probe issues from the initial survey and test messaging ideas and strategies.


Twenty-three local community residents of three towns were trained in intercept (face-to-face)survey techniques in October to carry out PACK’s intercept survey research. They exceeded their goal. By early December, 306 parents/caregivers, representing 459 children ages 5 – 10living in target areas had been interviewed. Researchers obtained 306 names and addresses,229 phone numbers and 33 e-mails. 155 parents said they would be interested/willing to participate in follow-up meetings (focus groups). In three follow-up focus groups held to probe the initial survey issues, test messages and strategies, 28 parents and caregivers shared theirviews and insights into their close-knit communities.


Public Relations Society of America Best in Show and Mercury Gold (Recognition for Community Relations and Parent Involvement Campaign) – 2004

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