The Progressive Brunch – a great networking tool
By Kate Ashbey and Ruby Anelle
The Progressive Brunch is an easy-to-organize, low-cost event that brings together students, providers, teachers and local advocates to network, build relationships and learn about quality early childhood programs. Admission is free, and we prefer to call it a “friendraiser” rather than a “fundraiser.” Consistently, for the past three events, we’ve had 30-35 participants.
While planning an event may seem like a daunting task, a progressive brunch is an easy event to plan. Here are the 5 steps we use to create a successful event.
- Choose a date for the event.
- Identify 3-4 programs that provide high-quality care and environment.
- Once the programs have been identified, contact them and see if they are interested in taking part in the event.
- Create a flyer and Eventbrite invitation to let people know about the event.
- Facilitate connections between the people attending and have a raffle.
1. Choose a date for the event.
We have traditionally planned this event in April about the time that Week of the Young Child is taking place. We look at what is happening and try not to overlap with any big events in the community.
2. Identify 3-4 programs that provide high-quality care and environment.
When looking for programs to host this event we are looking for: 1) a range of program types and/or ages of children served (e.g., State Preschool, Head Start, and Family Child Care); 2) program quality; and 3) general proximity to one another. Other ways to focus the activity could be to choose similar programs by age of children or program type, or by Quality Counts ranking. Whatever works for your group and your community should be your guide. Ideally, programs should be a 5-10-minute driving distance apart. Longer than that extends the time and can become tiresome. If a program is part of an organization, it helps to have a letter that the teacher can give to their supervisor talking about the event.
3. Once the programs have been identified, contact them and see if they are interested in taking part in the event.
We will have chapter members, who are familiar with each program, contact them and ask if they are interested in taking part in the event. If they are interested, we will create a route for our brunch that allows for the shortest drive possible between each program. We will then let each program know what part of the meal they will be serving, (ex. Coffee and tea, pastries, fruit, sandwiches, or dessert.) We have found it works to have the program provide the food for the event, but if they are unable to provide it, the chapter can also offer to help with the food.
4. Create a flyer and Eventbrite invitation to let people know about the event.
We have found that Eventbrite works well for letting everyone know about the event. We also give the flyer to the ECE professors at the local college. Our target audience for this event are professionals and ECE students.
5. Facilitate connections between the people attending and have a raffle.
While the event is taking place, encourage those attending to network with other people at the event. At each stop, give every attendee a raffle ticket. During the last 10 minutes at each program draw a few tickets and leave the rest of the tickets in the drawing for a grand prize at the end of the event. We spend up to $50 on a grand prize and the other prizes are normally donated items such as books, gift cards, or classroom materials. The grand prize is normally a basket, where everything in it is centered on a theme (ex. spring, cooking, art). At each program, we have the teacher or owner give an introduction to their program. We also present the teacher or owner with a handmade Thank You card signed by the board members and a $25 gift card to a local bookstore with a large children’s book selection.
Total cost to the chapter:
Gift certificates for programs $75-$100
Raffle Prizes $50-$75
The cost of food normally falls on the program, but most view it as an honor to be included and make it a program-wide event, with teachers showing off their classrooms and answering questions.
Set-up for the event:
We use Eventbrite for online registration, which allows us to send reminders, monitor attendance. At each location we provide NAEYC/CAAEYC membership forms, and the chapter President usually makes a pitch at one of the locations, educating participants about the benefits of membership and ways to get involved locally.
One of the reasons our events have been successful for us is the focus on student participation. ECE faculty at Shasta College support the event by offering extra credit to students who attend. The chapter president agrees to sign their ticket at each location to verify attendance, which the student then returns to their teacher. In general, at least half of our participants are ECE college students. We see this as an excellent opportunity for students to meet potential future employers, network with professionals in the field, and be exposed to quality early learning environments.
Kate Ashbey, MA ECE, teaches at Shasta College in Redding, CA and is President of California Cascades Chapter of CAAEYC.
Ruby Anelle is a Shasta College ECE graduate, currently pursuing a BS in ECE from Southern Oregon University, and teaches preschool in Redding, CA.
For more information, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.