Webinar - September 2021

EdTech Scholarship Support Program

 

Our curriculum specialists share about our scholarship support program and how your school can partner with us to help more students have access to books.

 

Topics include:

  • What sets EdTech apart
  • What Day One Readiness means
  • Our Scholarship Support Program
  • Examples of Scholarship program communication and student/family interactions

Read the transcript below:

EdTech Solutions Scholarship Support Program

Lacey:

Hello, and thank you for joining us for today's webinar. My name is Lacey Woolfrey with EdTech Solutions, and this is our monthly teacher training webinar that focuses on different aspects of digital learning. We are so thrilled that fall is finally here and really hope everyone's school year's off to a great start today. I am joined by Joe Montoya, one of our amazing curriculum consultants, along with Elizabeth Cockerill, our scholarship liaison. And we are so excited to discuss our scholarship support program today, along with an overview of what we do here at EdTech Solutions. Please utilize the chat feature to ask any questions you may have throughout this webinar, and at this time I'll turn it over to you, Joe.

Joe:

Awesome. Hello, everybody. And thank you, Lacey, for that warm introduction. I'm really, really happy to be able to join you all on this fine, fine day. I'm tremendously excited to talk about the scholarship program today, which I know is something very, very near and dear to all of our hearts here at EdTech. Personally speaking as a scholarship recipient myself, I know that my education and student debt would not be the same without a scholarship. So, I'm exceptionally happy to have the opportunity to create awareness around the different scholarship programs and present to you something that's super important to me. So, thank you for joining, everybody.

Now, before we dive into scholarships, I want to take a few minutes to explain what we do and how we help schools. We may have some new guests here today that may not be familiar with EdTech. So, I want to make sure that we really take a moment to bring everybody up to speed.

For starters, EdTech started in the print wholesale business back in 1978, but as time went on, the publishers started trending more towards digital and we did the same thing. We pivoted and started transitioning more towards digital platforms and implementations as well. While we do specialize in digital platforms and ebooks, it's important to understand that we still work with print books and wholesale orders. Honestly, I don't think print books are going anywhere anytime soon, so we continue to support our schools with exactly what they need.

When working with EdTech, one benefit is that we will certainly go out of our way to resolve any issues and solve any problems for our schools. We believe the positive spirit in which we support our schools fosters open, honest, and meaningful relationships that can truly stand the test of time. A lot of our school administrators benefit from our easy, fast and affordable implementation of ebooks that easily integrate with their school student information system.

I absolutely love hearing our school administrators thank our service team for giving them their summers back. I can't tell you how many times I've heard an administrator describe how they're actually planning vacations instead of being stuck in their office doing implementation for the summer. It's my absolute favorite compliment and my favorite thing to hear. Our teachers are empowered by a simplified way to customize the educational experience for each student with our unique reader. In addition, we also provide free training and recorded webinars for our teachers, so that they're ready on day one.

I think all teachers could benefit on day one from not being stressed out simply because they can't figure out how to log into a system or because they have to learn a new digital platform last minute.

Regarding our students, they benefit by enjoying convenient access to all their study materials on one centralized state-of-the-art platform, using only one log-in in most cases. So, the students aren't jumping around from website to website or platform to platform. In addition, the single sign on capabilities that we have with certain publishers make it extremely easy for the students to log in and access their ebook. There's no password, no username to remember, none of that, "I forgot my password," or, "I can't log in," stuff. Just one click and they're inside of their digital platform and their ebook.

Now on top of all of this, everyone from our parents and students to our teachers and administrators will receive world class customer service from a support team that is immensely knowledgeable and always eager to help.

What Sets EdTech Solutions Apart?

So, that's a little bit about EdTech. Now, let me explain what absolutely sets us apart. In case you're unfamiliar with EdTech Solutions and who we are, one thing you'll find is that we pride ourselves on our three uniques, the first unique being that we take personal responsibility for our client success. This means that we work hard to ensure and guarantee day one readiness. For us, that means that all students and teachers have access to all of their books on day one, ready to learn and able to continuously learn throughout the year. Second, we provide peace of mind through complete support for all of our administrators, teachers and students. Our dedicated VIP teacher support line and recorded webinars are just a few examples of the ways that we support our teachers. If you would like to request training from our teacher support manager Lacey, or you'd like access to our recorded webinars, all you need to do is visit our website, edtechsolutions.com, click on the teacher dropdown tab, and then you'll have access to all of our free resources.

Lastly, we offer digital implementation with the most K-12 publishers. In actuality, this focuses on the fact that we work with over 400 publishers. We specialize in digital implementation. This really allows us to be a true advocate for the schools that we work with, along with providing training on all major digital platforms. Now, before we get into scholarships, allow me to explain how we help our schools. For today's webinar, we're going to be talking about the scholarship program and as a follow up, you'll all be receiving access to the recording of this webinar, along with any resources that we can share. To start off, we would love to hear from all of you by answering our first poll question. Our first poll question is, what are the biggest issues that your school has experienced this year with implementation, digital platforms and/or ebooks.

It could be dealing with the publishers, setting up teacher accounts, student accounts, dealing with the parents, anything that was a real headache this year. If you could please take the time to answer our poll question, that would be greatly appreciated. At the end of this webinar we'll make sure to send out the poll results.

Now, with all that being said, these pillars or circles that you see on your screen on the left-hand side is known as our proven process. These are the steps that we, as an organization, take to ensure day one readiness for all of our schools.

What does ‘Day One Readiness’ mean?

To explain, the first thing that we do is help our schools sync with their student information system and complete their roster connection. We have a direct link with any number of student information systems, the most popular being Blackbaud, Rediker, or RenWeb.

Once we have a direct link, all of that student information would automatically feed into our system. So, that way, when the student logs on for the first time, they would automatically just see what's required to purchase, what they can pick and choose from, whether it be print or digital.

Now, second, we help our schools complete and audit to determine if and how much school-owned content there is. When we say school-owned content, we're talking about those multi-year licenses for different digital platforms. We genuinely want to help our schools determine if they need to purchase digital content or not. We also want to help our schools determine if they have school-owned content that maybe they haven't used. We do all this in an effort to save the school money and avoid digital licenses from expiring without being used or activated. And yes, believe it or not, this actually happens more often than you would think.

Now, the next two steps or pillars involve helping our schools set up their online classroom environments. One of the major benefits with EdTech is that we'll actually take the time to do all of this busy work and implementation for your school and administrators. This means the classroom is set up. The students are set up. Teachers are set up. So, on day one they have their classes, their logins, and their books. Once the environments are all set up, we ensure that all the students’ shelves have been populated with their books before the actual first day of school.

Our last two pillars undeniably revolve around the support that we provide our schools. Before the first day of school, we send each of our schools their own ‘How To’ flyers along with supporting documents that have their school logo and customized information on it. We want to make sure to create the best experience possible for all of our students, teachers, and administrators.

We have a dedicated teacher VIP line, a dedicated scholarship line, and a dedicated customer support line to provide ongoing support for the whole school throughout the year. If you'd like a demonstration of what this would look like for your school, or you'd like to meet to understand our timelines and deadlines better for your school, please, again, reach out to Lacey or myself so that we can schedule a one-on-one meeting with your school. We would be more than happy to do that. Now, enough about what we do and how we do it. Let's move on to the main reason we're all here, the scholarship program.

The Scholarship Program

Our next poll question is related to scholarships. If you could please help us by answering your next poll question, which is, do you currently have a scholarship program in place? If your school does not currently have a scholarship program in place and would like to discuss the options, again, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We'd be more than happy to schedule a call dedicated just for you and your school.

Currently, we work with 15 different private schools that have some sort of scholarship program in place to help their students. A lot of schools are still unaware that we can help them facilitate a scholarship program or even help students with scholarships. So, that's why it was important for us to get the word out today and create awareness around the scholarship programs.

Now, when it comes to setting up a scholarship program, it's important to know that we help schools in a variety of ways. As everyone knows, every school is different. So, that's why it's important for us to have that one-on-one conversation with your school so we can cater the information to your school and help your school see what a scholarship program would look like for them.

Some schools have a list of kids that they provide scholarships for, and we facilitate those scholarships. Sometimes the school chooses all digital content for their scholarship recipients, and other times it's both print and digital. Other schools, however, have their scholarship programs built around what the school provides each year. So, maybe it's a certain fiscal amount that they allow each year. Then we have other schools that use a percentage from other student sales to fund the scholarship students that are in need. Either way, the first thing that we would want to do is sit down with your school, have a one-on-one conversation, have you meet with our director of operations, Liz Pritchard, so that we can really discuss the options for your school in detail and decide on what's going to work best for your school.

One School’s Solution to Funding their Scholarship Program

Since we do work with so many private schools across the country, we can actually share what's working and what's not working for schools. This way, your school can make an educated decision on how they would like to facilitate their scholarship program. Now, keep in mind that we can customize an option that works best for your school. Not too long ago, we helped a school by working their scholarship program into their course access bundle, or required course materials, as the resource. What the school did is they started a scholarship bank by adding a small amount to each student's course access bundle. So, for example, this school added $5 to each students course access bundle. And with that $5 extra that they collected from each student, this school was actually able to help 45 brand new scholarship students with their book purchases. Of course, the school communicates all of this to their parents and we help with that communication process.

Believe it or not, most often the family members love knowing that they're giving back and helping their community. It's rare that we get a parent complaining about the scholarship program. I won't go as far as saying it doesn't happen, but the number of complaints is minimal.

Lastly, another benefit that your school will receive when signing on with EdTech is a sign-on bonus, which is a completely negotiable discussion we can have. A lot of our schools use their sign-on bonus for teacher materials and/or scholarship orders. Again, the amount of the sign-on bonus, how the sign-on bonus is used, and how the scholarship program is facilitated are all decisions that ultimately will be up to your school.

Next, I'd like to turn it over to my colleague, Elizabeth, to go into more detail about the scholarship program and some student experiences. She works closely with our scholarship students, parents, and teachers to make sure that the students are getting everything that they need and are ready for day one. If any of your teachers, students, or parents ever reach out to the scholarship line or email the scholarship team, they'll be working closely and directly with Elizabeth. So, Elizabeth, the floor's all yours. Take it away.

Elizabeth:

Thank you so much, Joe, for the kind introduction. And hello, everyone who's joined. Like Joe had said, my name's Elizabeth and I'm the scholarship liaison for the operations team this year. And I'm the one who has the pleasure of being able to talk directly to the students or any of the parents or administrators who are reaching out to us directly to actually facilitate the process of getting those books to the students who are eligible for scholarships.

And just some quick data from this year, as we start to wrap up the frenzy that was the summer as we were building. We actually were able to help a total of 15 individual schools across the country with their scholarship orders. And some of those also include international students who qualified for scholarship. That trickles down to 233 individual students that we were able to support.

And of course, that number is still even growing, even as we enter October, as new kids may join or some students may show that they may become eligible as the world changes or as their financial situation changes as they progress into the school year. And that actually equates to more than $40,000 this year of actual monetary support that these schools are able to provide for these kids when it actually comes down to getting them their books.

And a few of the details that I really want to share about our scholarship program is that we actually have a dedicated scholarship line that we have extended hours for. This includes us starting a little bit earlier over here out on the west coast to be able to support our east coast partners a little bit better, as well as a dedicated email address where teachers, parents, and administrators and students can reach out to us with any questions that they might have, or with requests to have at least themselves be looked at for eligibility for scholarship.’

There's been a few that we've been able to forward over to administration to be like, "Hey, this student reached out. Were you the one who asked them to?" and that kind of clarification. And like Joe said earlier, there's a few different processes for how we, as the operation side of this, get the list of kids. Most of them, the majority of them, come directly from the school. Some of them we do bulk uploads for where the schools just say, "Hey, here's our list of kids this year. Please get them their stuff." And then there's some where we actually have a list of children who then reach out to us directly so that we can facilitate a conversation on what books they actually need. There's print and digital options. We walk them through the different purchasing options that they have for them to try and give them a unique experience, but also one that doesn't cater or pander to them being part of the scholarship program.

One of the things that I really take to heart when we're dealing and talking directly to students and parents specifically is to have that level of empathy when you're talking to these kids. Because there could be a level of, "Oh, well, I'm going to this private school. I have this scholarship." And we don't want them to feel shameful. We don't want them to feel that they're being in any way targeted or in any way underappreciated. So, we try to keep the interaction as light and as friendly as possible, as quick and easy as we possibly can make it as well, so that they don't feel that this is a burden onto them to have to deal with buying their books through scholarship.

It was actually something that was very near and dear to my heart as well. Very similar story to Joe. And it's something that I take a lot of pride in when we're actually dealing with and talking to students directly.

One of the stories that I really would like to share actually happened this year. There was a mother who called in and she actually had two parents. Or not two parents. Of course she has two parents. Two children who were on the scholarship program. And you could tell when she called in that she was calling in on a break. She was very frazzled. She had the coherency to give me her kids names because she knows her children, but she couldn't give me email addresses or any detailed information that I need to verify that it's their kid. And we just calmed her down, walked her through the process, made it really quick, very simple, very easy, and still had that lightness to the conversation, just so that she knew that she was supported, that they're on there, that it was taken care of.

All of her tracking information was given to her as quickly and easily as possible. And the conversation turned from the beginning of one that was very, "I need this, this, this, and this. Can you get this for me now?" to a lighthearted conversation and one of gratitude towards the end when we were wrapping everything up and being able to finalize the purchases for one of her kids. And there was almost an alleviated sigh that you could hear from just her person as she was ending the call, that this was no longer something that she had to burden herself with as the thoughts of financial responsibility of having to deal with the books for her private school kids.

So, it's an honor, really, to be able to help these parents and these students who, through this pandemic, may have some financial discrepancies with their ability to purchase these things for themselves. And to be able to work with schools who understand that empathy and to actually work with them to create a program where we can provide that support, it's a unique experience that I really appreciate EdTech for helping to create and develop and support as well. And we really hope that we could roll something out like this for your schools, too.

Lacey:

Wow. Such an impactful experience. Thank you for sharing, Elizabeth and Joe. At this time, we'd like to open it up to our participants to ask any questions that you have about our scholarship support program. Please feel free to use the chat feature to add any questions. Liz, got one. Looks like this will be for you.

Q&A

What does the process look like when kids call into the scholarship line?

Elizabeth:

Sure. So, initially, the way that it works is we'll have a list of children that have been pre-approved from the schools. Sometimes admins will send individual emails to our scholarship email or to me directly, and we have a running document where we track every single scholarship transaction so that we don't miss anybody. So, when the kids call in, we verify off of that list that's been approved by the administration that they are eligible for a scholarship. And then we walk them through the process of purchasing. So, depending on the situation, the majority of the kids who are calling in are told to call in because they have the option of picking either print or digital books for some of their classes. And we don't just want to buy everything, because if they don't want to use print, then we don't want to get them print. If they don't want to use digital, we don't want to get them digital. So, we give them the options and we give them the feeling that they're actually shopping for their books.

That was a really important piece of it, that we didn't want to just make it seem that it was just a click, click, click, buy option. It was, this is you going through the process of being a normal kid in a normal situation where this is how they buy their books. And we really push that so that they don't feel like this is, again, outside of the ordinary. So, the kids will call in. They'll talk to either myself or my associate, and we will walk them through the, "Okay, do you need this book for this class? What about this one?" And then if they already have a course access bundle, which is, of course, the required course materials, we'll purchase that for them as well.

And then we'll let them know if we're partnering with any print options through Amazon, what the tracking information is on that, what the delivery information is on that. And we'll really just verify just a few key pieces of information. We need to verify the address, of course, to make sure that it's getting to the right place. And through the time, usually a five to eight-minute phone call conversation, we'll ask them about how their school year's starting, if they're excited for school, and we'll try to break that ice with them so that, again, it's not just dead air or silence, and there's an actual light conversation. So that, again, it's more of just a buying process and not just a, "Well, I had to call in to get my books." So, that's really how the process goes. And again, it's only about five to eight minutes. Sometimes it could get a bit longer if we have to buy directly from the publisher. But outside of that, we try to keep it light and breezy around here.

Lacey:

Nice. Thank you, Elizabeth. And we've got a few more moments. I want to give everybody a chance to ask any questions that they do have. While we're waiting for more questions to come in, Elizabeth, I know you had so many experiences working with the scholarship line and the students and the families and the schools. Would you mind sharing another example of one of the students we were able to help this year?

Elizabeth:

Yeah. Yeah, of course. So, one of my favorite situations that happened this year was actually a push towards trying to get Spanish-speaking associate who was able to assist people who may not have English as their first language. So, we actually had a conversation with someone, it wasn't through the phone line, it was actually through the scholarship email, who definitely was having some sort of barrier with their English. And I asked them directly, "Would you like for us to reach out and try and find someone who's able to help with a language that you're more comfortable with?" And once we got the yes from that, I was actually able to work with one of our other associates who not necessarily is in the scholarship group, but was willing to take his time and work with us to get the translations available and the need for being able to support this man with his daughter. He was very concerned that she wasn't getting what she needed.

And we were able to assuage his anxieties about the purchasing process and walk him through it, even if it wasn't even over a phone. It was just all through email. And we were able to confirm purchases for him. Again, any print options. We were able to give him tracking information with Amazon and delivery information. And it was wonderful to work on a situation where we were able to alleviate an anxiety that they knew that they were already going to have just from being a English as a second language person in this world. So, again, the empathy and the caring part of it is really where we needed to focus in this particular situation and not just offhandedly say, "Oh, well, I don't know what this email says. I don't know what kind of support we can give to him. I can barely make out what this means."

We'd never want to have that approach. We never want to belittle people. We don't want them to have that experience. And it was kind of wonderful to be able to say, "I can get you someone who can help you. It might not be me, but I will find someone who can help." And that was the next step, was just finding someone who was able to support him with Spanish. And it really wasn't that hard. We're based in Arizona, so we have an eclectic mix of people here in the office who know Spanish outside of myself. So, it was an easy find. But it's, again, taking that extra step to make them feel that they're not a burden and make people feel that their time and their reaching out to us is appreciated. And it's really just about making people feel good.

Lacey:

Nice. I love that teamwork. Above and beyond.

Elizabeth:

Exactly.

Lacey:

Excellent. Thank you for sharing that. It looks like one more question, and this can be for either Joe or Elizabeth. 

Do you offer scholarship support for print as well as digital content?

Joe:

I'll take that. So, yes, absolutely. We do offer scholarship support for both print and digital. Again, every school is different. It really just depends on how your school's set up, whether students are paying for the books or the school is paying for the book. So, it's really important for us to have that one-on-one discussion, that one-on-one conversation with you to see how your school is set up and how this is going to work best for your school. So, if that's something that you're interested in, please reach out to Lacey or myself. We'd be more than happy to set up a call or a discussion with you at your school. But yes, to answer your question, we absolutely support both print and digital.

Lacey:

Thank you. All right. It looks like that's all the questions we have, and that does conclude our webinar for today. Thank you once again, everyone, for taking the time to join us today. As a follow up, you will receive access to the recording of this webinar, along with links to the resources that we have shared. We do love to get feedback from our participants on the content or a request for future topics. So, please visit our website at edtechsolutions.com, share any thoughts that you have with us, or to request additional information. Thank you once again. Have a great rest of your day.

Elizabeth:

Thank you.

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EdTech Solutions leverages education technology to improve learning by making it easy and simple for schools and students to manage and access individualized digital content on any device.  EdTech’s cutting-edge approach to schoolwide ebook implementation and our innovative online platform and tools give school administrators and teachers the controls they need while providing students and parents with access to all their content on one easy-to-use platform with a single login, in most cases.

When you work with us, we create a personalized bookstore for your school where students can access and purchase their ebooks and textbooks on Shelfit.com. We also help publishers make their content available digitally to students on our robust multi-publisher ebook reader platform. We strongly believe that knowledge and good education should be available to all, and we are committed to developing and providing the online learning tools and modern services that make it possible.