Catholic educators turn into evangelists with a marketing mission to rescue waning schools
But with a new principal who knocked on doors, offered X Box video game consoles to kids who brought in a friend, and recruited families who lost their bid in a charter school lottery, the East Los Angeles school stayed open — 132 pupils are registered for this fall.
Call it educational evangelism. Roman Catholic schools are seeing years of marketing efforts starting to pay off in spite of tough competition from charter schools and the lingering effects of a devastating recession.
After seeing years of relentless enrollment decline, several key dioceses across the nation saw students trickle back to their schools over the past year. They say it comes down to a cultural change in Catholic education that has taken a while to implement but is finally taking root.
“If we want to continue to survive, we have to think like a business,” said Domenico Pilato, who heads the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ school marketing project.
Nationally, Catholic school enrollment is still waning — closing 167 schools and losing 34,000 pupils over the past year. But educators say the number of schools with waiting lists increased by 171 and 34 schools opened.
The archdioceses of Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago, which have all employed aggressive marketing programs, have seen student upticks, offering hope the exodus can be turned around on a larger scale. [more]