The National Math and Science Initiative’s mission is to advance STEM education to ensure all students, especially those furthest from opportunity, thrive and reach their highest potential. Moving into its second decade of work, NMSI sought an ability to communicate and engage with the thousands of students, teachers, and school districts that have benefited from its programs. In 2018, NMSI hired 270 Strategies to design its first national alumni engagement strategy.
For a variety of reasons, students who benefit from NMSI’s flagship programs often don’t connect the resources to NMSI and don’t consider themselves to be NMSI alumni. For that reason, we knew that we had to design a highly customized alumni experience that helped NMSI provide meaningful opportunities for alumni to stay engaged with the organization.
We kicked off our engagement with a robust discovery process that included staff interviews, observation of programs in the field, an alumni survey, and a review of programs and digital assets to anchor us in NMSI’s culture and approach. We then partnered with NMSI’s Strategic Initiatives team to design an engagement strategy that started well before a participant became an alum and would be applicable across the wide range of programs NMSI provides.
To ensure that the newly designed alumni engagement model was put into practice, we created a broad set of tools, program concepts, and materials that were organized into a “NMSI Alumni Playbook.” Every aspect of the playbook adhered to the core engagement model principles and allowed for a phased-in approach. Now, every participant in all NMSI programs is engaged in an “alumni journey” that is differentiated for students, teachers, and school administrators. A key feature of the journey includes a “buddy program” that matches new alumni with veteran alums to create stronger lasting connections.
NMSI continues to implement the best practices from the playbook to this day. Now, NMSI alumni are able to provide meaningful feedback on program design, repeat participation rates in programs for alumni have increased, and NMSI is creating a broader and enduring STEM community.