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Chicago School Zone:
informing, connecting and empowering parents
Media Innovation Project – Fall 2012
Chicago School Zone
INFORMING, CONNECTING AND EMPOWERING PARENTS
Medill Media Innovation Project Fall 2012
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary ………………………………………... Introduction …………………………………. …………….. BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH I. About Catalyst……………………………………………. II. Audience research…………………………...................... III. Personas………………………………………………… IV. Business research…………………………...................... RECOMMENDATIONS I. Overview ………………………………………………… II. Editorial content…………………………………………. III. The website……………………………………………... IV. The print newsletter…………………………………….. V. The email blast……………………...…………………… VI. Chicago School Select………………………………….. VII. Social media strategy………………..…….................... VIII. Business plan…………………………....…................. 1 2
3 4 7 9
11 12 14 17 20 21 26 27
APPENDICES A. Industry research………………..……………………….. 38 B. Business plan details……………………..……………… 41 C. Chicago School Select: What’s next? …………………... 45 The innovation project team…..……………………………. 47 Special thanks………………………………………………. 49
Chicago School Zone is a community of Chicago parents who want to make the best decisions regarding their children’s education. Through our website, web application and newsletter, we aim to inform parents by producing engaging, informative content that serves as a starting point, empowering them to become a community of savvy parents with the tools to more easily navigate the Chicago’s public school system.
The 2012 fall quarter Media Innovation Project at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism created a comprehensive editorial and digital strategy and business plan to provide Catalyst Chicago with an effective platform to target Chicago Public School parents. Based on an in-depth research phase we developed a series of key findings related to audience needs, market opportunities and platform effectiveness. Our key findings include: o Parents are busy! o They have particular interest in “my school and my child” o Parents now understand that they have a choice of school and appreciate having that choice o Parents want tools to help them choose the right school for their child o Parents get most of their CPS information from the CPS website o They want to know more about curriculum in order to help with homework o Parents value an independent source of information about schools o There is a high rate of smartphone usage among parents, even those of modest means o There’s a lot of data about schools available but it is not user friendly o Parents need help distilling dense education issues and making them relevant o They would value an objective, reputable source to help them determine which CPS school is the best fit for their children Our strategy has two primary components: o Chicago School Select: A groundbreaking web application that takes into consideration a parent's unique education values and shows her which school is the best fit for her child. o Chicago School Zone: A multimedia, multiplatform publication for parents that includes a website, a weekly opt-in electronic newsletter and a revamped print newsletter, all intended to inform parents with engaging, informative content.
“The success of a student is supported by three pillars: a principal who is held accountable for that success, a teacher who is committed to that success, and, most importantly, a parent who is involved at home.” -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
America’s public education system has been the subject of documentaries, books and countless news reports, but it remains a source of confusion for parents around the country. Chicago’s public school system is emblematic of the pitfalls that face both parents and students. The city is home to schools of every size, variety and demographic makeup. Many CPS parents feel uninformed and ill-equipped to make decisions about their children’s education. Catalyst Chicago serves a vital role in conveying the importance of education reform as well as its progress and obstacles, but the magazine isn’t adequately reaching the parents of 400,000 students in Chicago’s public schools. The Innovation Project team sought to determine how best to reach this underserved audience. By using existing data and our own research, we identified the needs and behaviors of our audience and used that information to produce Chicago School Zone, a new brand for a collection of content and products targeting those needs. In addition to the products we developed, we also created a blog called Chicago School Chat, a Facebook page and an accompanying Twitter feed, @ChiSchoolChat. This online presence served as a means of establishing a dialogue with our audience while we worked to develop Chicago School Zone. Read on to learn more about our work, our findings and recommendations, and the facts supporting our conclusions.
background and research
i. about catalyst
Since 1990, Catalyst Chicago has established itself as an influential news organization covering the Chicago Public Schools to “document, analyze and support school improvement efforts.” The brand exists as a magazine, website and as a bilingual newsletter for public school parents. Catalyst is part of a nonprofit organization, the Community Renewal Society, funded by foundations and individual donations The Catalyst website is updated regularly. The magazine is printed four times a year, and the four-page parent newsletter, Catalyst In the Know, comes out twice a year. The magazine is a benefit of membership, and is sent to Local School Council members free of charge. Catalyst In the Know is also distributed free; 100,000 copies are sent to schools in disadvantaged communities. In addition to the website and print publications, Catalyst releases an email newsletter every Wednesday to approximately 6,000 recipients. Detailed reporting on the Chicago Public Schools is Catalyst’s bread and butter. Policy lies at the heart of the reporting, and the magazine’s content appeals mostly to those with a deep understanding of, and commitment to, education reform in Chicago. But there is a huge untapped audience with a vested interest in education – the parents and guardians of 400,000 CPS students – most of whom are not being reached by Catalyst products.
ii. audience research
CPS provides some information about its student population that served as a useful starting point for us. A plurality (44.1 percent) of CPS students are Latino with African-American students comprising the second largest demographic. Almost 90 percent of CPS students are part of lowincome families and more than 12 percent speak limited English.
Native American 0.4% Asian/Pacific Islander 3.4%
White 8.8% Latino 44.1%
Building on this very basic understanding of this community, we began to determine parents’ needs and values. Thanks to the financial support of the Chicago Community Trust, we were able to arrange four professionally moderated focus groups with 28 parents from around the city. We also conducted in-depth interviews with 35 parents, including some who had also participated in the focus groups. These groups represented different socioeconomic strata, educational backgrounds and neighborhoods, but with remarkable consistency, parents relayed similar concerns and experiences. They’re busy. They’re concerned about their children’s safety – traveling between home and school, and inside the schools. They feel left out of decisions that affect their children’s school lives. But above all else, they want to know what’s going on with their child and their school. The motivation for wanting for this information was clear: Parents want their children to be successful. But success means different things to different people. Going to college. Being a productive member of society. Getting a stable job. Being happy. Being a “good person.”
We found that parents are interested in CPS news on some level. But we concluded that the depth and detail of Catalyst’s reporting is simply too overwhelming – and not focused enough on the day-to-day school experience for a lot of parents. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that the parents are too busy and the information isn’t approachable enough for them to dedicate their time to the type of reporting Catalyst provides. We also discovered that most parents had little knowledge of Catalyst, including the “In the Know” newsletters distributed at schools, and that they relied heavily on CPS for information about their children’s schools. Many parents did express interest in receiving news and updates about CPS from an impartial third party. Parents of all backgrounds and demographics revealed that they rely on the Internet (whether on a computer or smartphone) for news about their child’s school and about CPS. While we recognize that parents in the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago don’t have regular Internet access, we found that even parents of very modest income levels have access to a computer to home or at work. And we found that smartphones with Internet access are becoming increasingly common, even among parents with low socioeconomic status. Cell phones have become one of the most-used devices for Internet access regardless of age, race, income or education history. Cell phones 95% 94% 86% 67% 88% Desktops 51% 66% 63% 48% 58% Laptops 75% 69% 57% 32% 61% E-readers 18% 23% 16% 11% 18% Tablets 20% 26% 14% 8% 18%
Ages 18-29 Ages 30-49 Ages 50-64 Age 65+ All adults
Cell Phone Use White, Non-Hispanic 87% Black, Non-Hispanic 88% Hispanic (English-and Spanish-speaking) 88% Less than $30,000/year 82% $30,000-$49,999/year 90% $50,000-$74,999 92% $75,000+ 97% No high school diploma 76% High school graduate 85% Some college 91% College+ 94%
Source: Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project
Morgan Stanley forecasted in 2010 that worldwide, within the next five years, mobile Internet use would surpass desktop browsing.1 That prediction doesn’t look so far off base as we
approach the end of 2012. This year, the Internet research firm comScore predicted that the shift would occur sometime in 2014. In 2007, 400 million people used mobile Internet, compared with about 1.1 billion desktop browsers. In 2012, the numbers have shifted to approximately 1.4 billion mobile users compared with about 1.6 billion desktop users. In 2014, the group projects about 1.9 billion mobile users with 1.7 desktop users. While only a handful of the parents we surveyed rely regularly on print media, they do prefer to receive some information on paper. This is likely a reflection of the fact that people value the convenience of receiving relevant content without having to search for it. What we learned about CPS parents They care more about their child’s school/experience than CPS as a whole They want to give their children the best education possible Very few of them are familiar with Catalyst They get a lot of their information directly from CPS An impartial third-party source for CPS news matters to them The vast majority of parents regularly use the Internet
Our next step was to develop personas that would adequately represent a diverse group of people. Our personas would serve as a guide for the development of our overall strategy as well as the actual products and content that we would generate. Personas are a common technique used by companies seeking to build new products. Personas are essentially composites of real people, based on audience research. They are designed to look like real people, with jobs, families, cars and needs. By keeping personas in mind throughout the process, we were able to generate ideas that would be practical for the real world. We examined the demographics and psychographics of the parents from the focus groups and our interviews and created three personas that reflect their characteristics and values. The parents of CPS students are as diverse as Chicago itself, meaning that we would have to develop personas that represent a broad spectrum of characteristics. The majority of our respondents were female, and that’s reflected in the personas we created, with two of the three being women. Race was another important consideration. CPS parents are a diverse group and we also wanted our personas to serve as a cross section of that population. We created identities to represent the three largest racial groups of CPS students: white, Latino and African American. Meet Brianna Powell, Cathy Walsh and Jonny Espinoza.
Age: 46 Neighborhood: South Shore Education: Associate degree Occupation: Human Resources Household Income: $60,000 Family: two boys, 8 and 16 years old. Ex-husband, Chris, is an IT professional. Concerns: Safety, varying grade scales Engagement with schools (1-10): 7 Media consumption: Gets her news online and on TV. Regularly uses her smartphone for news, Facebook and texting. Relies on CPS.edu for school info. “I want my children to be good thinkers. I think testing gets them away from that, and I’d like CPS to care more about that.”
Age: 33 Neighborhood: Buena Park Education: BA, MA Occupation: Homemaker Household Income: $160,000 Family: 2 girls, 2 and 6 years old Concerns: Safety, emphasis on testing Engagement with schools (1-10): 8 Media consumption: Regularly uses her computer and smartphone for news. Also listens to podcasts and is active on CPSobsessed.com. Uses Facebook and Twitter daily. “I feel like people send their kids to private schools in the city because there’s not a better option. If we create really good, vibrant schools, we could help the whole community”.
JUAN “JONNY” ESPINOZA
Age: 40 Neighborhood: West Lawn Education: BA Occupation: Police Officer (CPD) Household income: $80,000 Family: 2 girls, 9 and 14 years old, 1 boy, 12 years old Concerns: Bullying, emphasis on testing, tier system, class size Engagement with schools (1-10): 7 Media consumption: Gets his news from the Internet every day. Uses CPS.edu but regularly checks individual schools’ websites and visits CPSobsessed.com about once a week. “Bullying may be a sign that some of the teachers aren’t as caring as others; some are just here to get a paycheck.”
iv. business research
other players in the market
We examined several publications and media resources in the Chicago market that target parents, or provide resources that apply to parents’ needs. We sampled the market to evaluate what media platforms were most efficient, and what revenue models are already being used. This analysis was an important step in determining the existing opportunities for a Catalyst parent publication, and the unmet needs in the existing marketplace. A summary of our research findings is below; more details about the publications and resources we looked at can be found in Appendix A. Macro-level coverage of CPS is available in traditional media outlets such as the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. There also are a number of publications geared specifically to parents, such as Chicago Parent magazine, but these do not tend to focus on issues of particular concern to urban public school parents. There is an opening in the market for coverage more relevant to parents’ particular concerns with their child’s school. Blogs and parent organizations do exist, but without a centralized portal or resource to guide a parent’s search for information, it is difficult to identify what resource is most relevant to a particular school or neighborhood. Parents seeking to choose a public school for their children can find enormous amounts of data about individual schools on the websites of the Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Interactive Report Card database put together by Northern Illinois University. There are scattered blog posts that relate to this topic, and a number of organizations, including the Chicago Public Schools, organize school fairs where parents can get more information from school representatives. At least one company, Chicago School GPS, provides a paid service advising parents on school choice. But there is no online resource that helps guide parents through the school choice process, and this is a potential role for Catalyst to play. We found a variety of revenue models for parent publications and services. Chicago Parent magazine is distributed free in places where parents are likely to see it, relying on advertising to cover its expenses. Parent organizations rely on memberships or donations. Chicago School GPS is a paid consulting service. Our research indicates that parent publications appeal particularly to female audiences, and these women are often the primary family spenders. Advertising should be geared towards this demographic profile. Based on the companies we found advertising with other parent publications and services, these are some types of advertisers that could be successfully targeted for a new parent publication: Museums Navy Pier shops and restaurants Children’s hair cutters (Sport Clips).
Walgreens Parent resource classifieds (Nannies, Birthday party supplies, etc…) Bank of America Target Dominick’s Jewel-Osco
Non-profit revenue restrictions
Because of Catalyst’s nonprofit status, we investigated the constraints that Catalyst would face in generating revenue from advertising. We learned that it is possible for nonprofit organizations to sell advertising but that the revenue, if it is deemed unrelated business income, could be subject to tax just as it would be for for-profit companies. Please reference Appendix B for more details.
Parents clearly indicated their need for a reliable third-party source of information pertaining to their children’s schools. They also revealed that they regularly rely on online resources to learn and make decisions about their children’s educations. Parents also suggested that they like to receive some information on paper, meaning that Catalyst’s newsletter could continue to serve a role in conveying relevant content. We recommend the creation of a new brand, Chicago School Zone, which would provide the following products: 1. A website, www.chicagoschoolzone.com, providing regularly updated content of interest to parents. 2. A revamped parent newsletter, to be printed in color (the current newsletter does not have full color) and distributed three times per year – once more than the current newsletter. The additional edition would be a back-to-school issue in August. 3. An opt-in email blast (newsletter) distributed once per month. 4. Chicago School Select, a Web application that helps parents choose a public school. The mission statement for the brand is: “Chicago School Zone is a community of Chicago parents who want to make the best decisions regarding their children's education. Through our website, web application and revamped newsletter, we aim to inform parents by producing engaging, informative content. This content serves as a springboard empowering parents to become a community of savvy leaders with the tools to more easily navigate the Chicago public school system.” The products will cross-promote each other and be reinforced by a social-media strategy. For example, a parent reading the newsletter will now be referred to the website, where he or she will be able to use the school choice app. From there, they may visit the Chicago School Zone Twitter feed, decide to follow, and then connect with other parents. This brings things full circle and allows for maximum awareness and usage of all facets of Chicago School Zone.
ii. editorial content
content and tone
After speaking with CPS parents and hearing their thoughts during the focus groups, the editorial team collectively agreed upon potential stories that would be most useful and engaging to the parents. Chicago School Zone will have a useful, relatable tone. The audience and media research led us to focus on four topics (pillars) and various sub-topics within those areas (departments). The content throughout the editorial products consists of five pillars. Classroom will include content that specifically relates to what children are being taught. The Common Core Standards, the new set of equivalent educational standards that are being implemented across the country, are a good example. The departments will revolve around math, science, literature and language. For instance, a parent may be interested in an article relating to language requirements, or the increasing emphasis on non-fiction rather than fiction under the Common Core Standards. Main Office encompasses content related to the administration of schools. This is where parents will go if they are interested in articles relating to school administrators, new policies and programs or school closures. Safety is included because a recurring theme that cropped up throughout discussion with parents was concern about their children’s safety. The departments encompass bullying, security/police involvement, discipline problems within the school, weather and transportation. After the Bell addresses what goes on at schools outside the classroom, such as sports activities, arts and recess. Parents might read about an athletic star on the rise or a new art program being implemented in certain schools. Resources focuses on practical information helpful to a CPS parent, such as homework help, school choice or disabilities. For example, a parent will be able to view a video tutorial about the “Everyday Math” curriculum that is being taught in most CPS elementary schools. After reviewing the present Catalyst newsletter, we concluded that the current topics, distribution, and display of the newsletter are not connecting with parents. Parents want quick, easy information that can be effortlessly consumed. Our revamped newsletter will have up to eight story-blurbs that will catch parents' attention. Parents do not have time to read through an entire newsletter while visiting their children’s school; our newsletter will give parents a quick taste of CPS news and topics. The newsletter directs parents to the website, so when they have time, they can scope out the stories that most interest them.
Creating an entirely new editorial product seems an expensive proposition, but the editorial content for Chicago School Zone doesn’t have to be entirely new. Nearly all of the articles that appear in Catalyst In Depth or its website could be repurposed for Chicago School Zone.
Since Chicago School Zone is intended for parents rather than policy fanatics, some of the stories that appear in Catalyst and its website need to be edited to be appropriate for the audience. For instance, in the most recent issue of Catalyst (fall’s “Factory Model” issue) there are four articles including the “By the numbers” – a regular feature rounding up statistics related to the issue’s topic. Two of the four are already written appropriately for parents. Another two are a few edits away from fitting the audience. Parents need stories to be contextualized in a way they can relate to. As it stands, Catalyst stories traditionally use three types of main characters: teachers (“Ms. Delany is doing X”), principals or schools (“the Park School is doing X”) or governmental or executive administration (“CEO Stevens and Mayor Smith are doing X”). Parents need stories based on a different list of characters – the ones they encounter everyday: students, teachers, principals and schools and the parents themselves. Web content from the Catalyst website can be repurposed in exactly the same way. Much of the daily news feed, Catalyst Notebook, can be reprinted on Chicago School Zone.
III. THE WEBSITE
Because so many parents told us they use smartphones to access the Internet, a relatively new approach to Web development called “responsive design” was clearly the best approach to building the Chicago School Zone website. Responsive design is becoming increasingly important because of the variety of gadgets that now provide Internet access, from computers with different screen sizes to tablets to smartphones. Responsive design allows web developers to work around the uncertainty and build one website that adjusts its layout based on the device used for access. It uses “media queries” (a relatively new capability that enables Web browsers to use different style sheets to adapt the design to the size of the screen) as well as “fluid” layout grids and flexible images (which change in size depending on the screen dimensions). While responsive web design is still a relatively new phenomenon, Google recently recommended that sites use this design approach to optimize a user’s browsing experience. “When considering your site’s visitors using tablets, it’s important to think about both the devices and what users expect,” Pierre Far and Scott Main of Google wrote in November 2012. “Unless you offer tablet-optimized content, [tablet] users expect to see your desktop site rather than your site’s smartphone site. Our recommendation for smartphone-optimized sites is to use responsive web design, which means you have one site to serve all devices.”2 Responsive web design is cost-efficient when compared with the time and resources needed to create multiple different sites for a variety of platforms. Rather than spend time and money on developing and creating a separate mobile site, separate desktop site and separate tablet site, a publisher can spend that time working on a responsive site instead. Our responsive site will be just as functional and user-friendly on a smartphone as it will on a tablet or desktop computer. Responsive design is also said to improve the ranking of content on search engine results pages. SEO expert Jesse Laffen says this is because the easier developers make it for a search engine to find and understand their content, the better the results are going to be.3 Because of this broad range of behaviors and devices, responsive web design makes sense. It’s nearly impossible to discern how a CPS parent will choose to access the Internet and with that in mind, a website that adjusts to the device makes for a better user experience. On the next two pages, you will find screenshots of the website, annotated to show its key features.
Advertising space Tagline: relates brand to audience Chicago School Zone logo: reminiscent of Chicago flag; eye‐catching, recognizable Search bar: brings up relevant information from the website Navigation bar: Sign up for e‐blast, school choice app, about page, contact page, advertiser page
Photo carousel: highlighting photos or stories; captions hold link to actual story
Promotion for the school‐choice application Space for a sponsor to promote its own brand while financially supporting the website and Chicago School Zone
Editorial pillars: key topics that are consistent in every issue.
Navigation bar: copyright, contact page, and link to Catalyst Social media: can share every page through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Wordpress, and Email
Here’s what the website would look like on a typical smartphone screen. Homepage: 320x480 pixels, the size of the average smartphone display
Navigation bar is changed to a dropdown menu
iv. the print newsletter
The print newsletter offers teasers for seven stories at the time of publication. We envision one top story that receives the most weight on the front page. In our newsletter, that story is “So long, mystery meat.” The three stories placed below the top story are each given equal weight in the design process. None of them is meant to stand out above the rest. We considered two different options for the layout of the back page of the newsletter. The first option involved four stories of equal weight in two rows with a blue sidebar on the right, while the second option -- which we adopted -- has one large story at the top with room for a pull quote, two equal-weight stories below that and the same sidebar. We settled on this option to keep the entire newsletter fresh and engaging -- a back page with four stories that are similar in photo size, headline size and summary size ultimately looked uninspiring and dull. The large photo on the back coupled with the pull quote adds more visual variety to the page while being subdued enough not to overwhelm the overall design of the newsletter. The sidebar and footer are meant to play off the colors in the Chicago School Zone logo on the upper left-hand side of the front page. The major difference between the Chicago School Zone newsletter and current Catalyst in the Know newsletter is that we do not include full-length stories in our print publication. Instead, we have opted to drive traffic to chicagoschoolzone.com by using a link-shortener that will allow parents to easily look up the stories they’re most interested in reading. For example, at the bottom of the “Parents fight to keep schools alive” story is a note that parents can “Read more at csz.com/funds”, which is meant to be an easily remembered link to the full-length article. Given the increasing penetration of smartphones with Internet access, particularly among parents with children, we are confident that the overwhelming majority of the newsletter’s intended audience will be able to read the stories online. We wanted the newsletter to be colorful without being a mess of colors that do not complement each other, engaging, informative and clean. The structure of the newsletter is clearly defined, and each photograph adds subtle color and excitement. There are a series of obvious advantages to color printing. It’s a boon to the mission of the newsletter, allowing for more visually appealing layouts, a more eye-catching presence and better graphical communication of data. But it’s also potentially a financial advantage, raising readership and implicitly raising the value of the sponsorship block by allowing a full color logo.
v. the email blast
Our email blast is formatted consistently with the website and print newsletter – giving the overall Chicago School Zone brand a relatively uniform structure and appearance. Once again, the top story is the largest story with a photograph sized to take up the same space as two of the smaller stories below it. Keeping in mind that the entire email blast likely can’t be viewed in an email window without the user scrolling down, it’s critical to ensure that the top story is engaging and has mass appeal. This is why we selected Joe Uchill’s “Everyday Math” tutorial for our April 2013 newsletter. We thought this piece would catch the eye of more parents than any of the other stories included in the email blast. Below that story are three others that we think would interest parents. We selected Elise Menaker’s video because we wanted to maximize our interactive content online; it’s much easier to play a video within an email blast than it is to link to one via the print publication. The email blast also makes use of links in its navigation bar. Parents can easily find chicagoschoolzone.com, the Chicago School Select web app and Facebook and Twitter profiles for the publication.
vi. chicago school select
While existing resources – primarily the CPS website and the Chicago Tribune’s School Report Card online section – do a pretty good job of aggregating and visualizing key data from the CPS ecosystem, they do a lousy job making this information accessible and actionable to the lay user. While our audience research participants turned to these sources the most for school data, they were frustrated with the user experience. Our team set out to create an interactive, web-based application that would make school choice decisions easier for parents. While other online sources of school data merely deliver information, ours goes further by taking into consideration each parent’s unique education values to show them which schools are the best for their children. Like Match.com, this app weighs a variety of data, compares it to a user’s own values, ranks the available options, and then allows the user to learn all of the details about each school that might be a good fit. To our knowledge, this type of approach is original and has not been undertaken by another organization or media outlet. Our development process began by reviewing our audience research data and determining what user needs the app would serve. We were able to hone this down to two primary objectives for parents: figuring out which schools their children could attend, and, 2) based upon their possible choices and individual values, identifying the schools their children should attend. We strove from the beginning to make the interface a simple decision-making tool that would deliver the user as much, or as little, information as a parent would want. To identify the schools that might be worth considering, a parent can enter his or her home address and a maximum distance from home. The parent can also select from a list of special programs he or she might be interested in and the relevant grade level. Then the parents can choose “values” that might be important to them, such as standardized test scores, parent involvement, discipline and racial/ethnic diversity. Each of these values is associated with one or more data points. Chicago School Select then ranks the list of possible schools based on those choices. To identify the data sources to “fuel” the app, we consulted several outside CPS experts and researchers. We wanted to ensure we were choosing the best metrics possible. For example, instead of choosing to just use composite ISAT scores as our metric for standard testing, we opted to go with CPS’ “performance scores,” which use several data points about standardized tests. The final prototype has five main screens: 1) Search for schools: Allows the user to either type in a specific school to research, or enter their address to begin the guided school choice process. 2) Narrow your choices: If a user opts for the guided experience, this screen enables him or her to enter static criteria that, when combined with their geographic location, are used to determine what schools their child(ren) could consider.
3) What matters to you: This screen displays all possible schools and provides the user with the option to choose up to three of what we called “values” in order to rank the list. As the user checks values, the list is instantly shuffled to display the highest-ranked ones at the top. The user has an option to click an individual school to research it further, or to compare up to three schools side by side.. 4) Compare schools: If a user decides to compare schools, this screen does so via a system of up to five stars representing how highly the school ranks for each of the “what matters to you” data points. Users have the option to return to the previous screen to rank more schools or to click on an individual school to research it further. 5) School details: This screen, which can be accessed directly from screens 1, 3 and 4, provides details on an individual school, including an address, map and contact information, as well as metrics such as: testing performance, misconduct rates, class sizes, demographics and contact information. On the next three pages, you’ll find images of these five screens.
1) SEARCH FOR SCHOOLS
2) NARROW YOUR CHOICES
3) WHAT MATTERS TO YOU
4) COMPARE SCHOOLS
5) SCHOOL DETAILS
vii. social media strategy
Social media is incredibly important to the development of an interactive community. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2012 State of the New Media report, nine percent of news website traffic now comes from social media, up significantly in the past two years. To engage parents, Chicago School Zone must actively seek out an audience, create the infrastructure for a community to grow, accept instantaneous feedback on its media content, and provide a place for open discourse between parents and the publication. By creating and maintaining an active community, Chicago School Zone will be able to bring together parents from across the city and provide them with the tools they need to be as informed as possible about all things related to CPS. They will also be able to find like-minded parents who share similar interests. Further, a collaborative community created through social media will enable two-way communication between parents and the publication, which will foster a deeper connection with the brand. This plan will also drive more traffic to the Chicago School Zone website and help unite all of the platforms (website, print, Twitter, etc.). We recommend that Chicago School Zone’s primary social-media emphasis be on Facebook and Twitter. We will establish a following on each platform via three steps: 1) Acquire a base of dedicated followers. This outreach involves face to face promotion among parents to gain Facebook followers, networking with educational bloggers who will retweet content on Twitter and other outreach to gain engaged followers. 2) Optimize content to make it more sharable. This means writing tweets that are witty with appropriate hashtags and links on Facebook. It especially means writing different posts for each platform. 3) Cross promotion. If other social media spaces are used (e.g. Pinterest, a rich source for photography, video and infographics), cross-promotion must be a central tenet of the strategy. Whether reminding Twitter users that Chicago School Zone is on Pinterest or promoting content from other news organizations, there should be promotion on each social-media platform Regularly promoting the Chicago School Select app will also be important.
“There is a minimal cost increase to make this piece more dynamic and of course more attractive for parents through design and content and of course more attractive for any possible partner in advertising.” –Justin Botos, Aspen Printing Services
viii. business plan
Our goal is to minimize expenses and, over time, build advertising revenue to account for the yearly operating costs of all recommended proposals. There are four components to the business model: 1. Print and distribute three two-page, color issues of Chicago School Zone each year, with a minimal increase in overhead expenses compared with the existing twice-a-year In the Know model. 2. Build advertising revenue to offset the operating expenses of the Chicago School Zone website, digital application and electronic newsletter. 3. Establish a long-term stream of advertising revenue to pay for increased distribution of the printed publication. 4. Secure donor funding to match the investment necessary for initial production costs and budget deficits.
Revenue for our recommendations will come from three sources: 1. Advertising 2. Sponsorship 3. Donor funding
We plotted our projected costs and revenue over a four year period. Our projection indicates that by year four we will achieve profitability. The overall investment for initial production costs and budget deficits for years 1-3 is: $238,861. Please reference Appendix B for a detailed breakdown of all costs and expenses.
Four‐Year Cost and Revenue Projection
$140,000 $120,000 $100,000 $80,000 $60,000 $40,000 $20,000 $0 Costs Revenue Year 1 $83,148 $51,400 Year 2 $91,283 $66,857 Year 3 $103,137 $90,690 Year 4 $116,410 $117,664
the path to profitability
The existing printed footprint of In the Know will be expanded with minimal additional cost. Chicago School Zone will be distributed three times a year, using the same distribution model and cost schedule as In the Know. The additional issue will be distributed in August as a backto-school special. Chicago School Zone will be a one-page, color, front-and-back newsletter. The reduction of the length of the parent publication from four to two pages was based on our understanding of how little time parents have to pick up and read the publication on report-card pickup nights. The reduction in length also has a financial benefit: The decreased printing costs of two versus four pages will allow three annual iterations of the parent publication, in color. Distribution of the third issue will be an additional annual expense. There are significant, one-time costs associated with the creation of new digital products. There is also an annual increase in operating costs, due mostly to our recommendation to add a new full-time reporter/producer for Chicago School Zone. Financial support for the one-time production costs of the website and digital application, as well as budget deficits for years 1-3, will require an investment that we think can come from grants and donor funding. The initial investment required is $238,861.
Yearly operating expenses remain relatively constant from year to year. Because federal regulations governing advertising revenue for nonprofit publications are not entirely clear, we have conservatively treated advertising as taxable income and included a 34 percent federal tax on ad revenues after commissions. We also project a 15 percent average commission for all advertising. The advertising commission and tax expenses become a greater portion of annual expenses as revenue increases.
Year 1 Expenses
Taxes on ad sales 15%
Ad commissions 8% Chicago School Select app 7%
Website* 53% Print newsletter 17%
* includes new producer/reporter
Year 4 Expenses
Taxes on ad sales 26%
* includes new producer/reporter
Ad commissions 14% Chicago School Select app 5%
Print newsletter 12%
Planning for the future Over time, we’d like to put the printed publication in the hands of every Chicago parent. With new digital revenue sources and a shorter, more colorful and advertising-friendly publication, we believe Catalyst can generate profits to pay for increased printing and distribution costs of expanding the footprint of the parent newsletter. Based on our projections, Chicago School Zone’s annual budget will be able to support this goal within four years.
Our goal is to make this expansion an organic process. Increasing the printed product’s distribution will be done incrementally to match the incoming revenue in excess of operating costs. In short – all profits over operating expenses will be earmarked for expanding the physical distribution of the printed product. The current model produces 90,000 printed editions of In the Know twice a year. The existing printed publication’s production, printing and distribution costs are being met by donor funding. Our plan to expand the publication to three times a year will not place an increased burden on donor funding, and can be done with minimal increase in overhead.
There are substantial start-up costs related to the development of the Chicago School Zone website and school choice application. There are also additional costs related to the yearly operation of all proposals. Our business proposal recognizes these costs. We have made our best effort to mitigate them, while maximizing the community presence of our products and the quality of information we provide. Website development and maintenance According to cost estimates based on industry research, we estimate: One-time, year one website development costs = $30,000. Annual website operating expenses = $6,800
For a detailed breakdown of website production and maintenance costs please refer to Appendix B. Chicago School Select development and maintenance According to cost estimates based on industry research, we estimate: One-time, year one app development costs = $140,000 Annual website operating expenses = $6,500
For a detailed breakdown of website production and maintenance costs please refer to Appendix B. Social media The social media plan will be operated by a single, unpaid intern. The intern will be responsible for updating Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. There is no production or operating cost associated with the social media plan.
Printing According to a cost projection analysis by Aspen Printing Services, the proposed two-page Chicago School Zone publication, produced in color three times a year at 101,000 copies, will add $777 in annual printing costs. For a detailed breakdown of printing costs and estimates please reference Appendix B. Distribution Current distribution costs are $6/school for 270 schools. This is a total cost of $1,620 per issue, for a total cost of $3,240 per year. We will project an equivalent distribution cost for the additional back-to-school issue to be published in August. We recommend using the existing distribution network, and project Chicago School Zone’s annual distribution costs to be $4,860– for a total annual cost increase of $1,620. Staff We estimated that the additional workload of producing and updating content for the website, the weekly emailed newsletters, and the three issues per year of the printed publication can be accomplished by one additional editorial staff member: A reporter/producer responsible for the parent publication, collaborating with the community editor and the existing reporters. The salary for this position is budgeted at $36,000/year. We also anticipated a benefits package at 25 percent of base pay, and a 3 percent annual pay raise. These assumptions are reflected in the annual operating expense budget. For each year, we included expenses for freelancers to update the data for Chicago School Select on a quarterly basis and an outside contractor to make technical enhancements to the website. Additional costs Two additional costs must be accounted for: Advertising agency commission rates and taxable income. The median national rate for advertising agency commissions is 15 percent. The Illinois state business income tax rate is 7 percent rate. According to the IRS, however, this rate can be offset as a deduction from the federal business income tax rate. According to the IRS federal business income tax schedule, advertising revenue from Chicago School Zone will be taxed at a rate of 25 percent initially, and at 34 percent once total revenue exceeds a $75,000 threshold. We used the 34 percent rate for all years in our projections. Please reference Appendix B for the IRS corporate business tax schedule.
The overall objective of our advertising plan is to fund the proposed digital media projects and produce a revenue stream that can be used to expand the distribution of the printed publication. Rationale Our plan is to incorporate advertising space into the Chicago School Zone website and opt-in email newsletter. We will also feature sponsorship space on the printed publication. The proposed pricing schedule was created based on a synthesis of current proposed rates by Catalyst and a comparative analysis of a publication in the Chicago market with a similar audience, editorial focus, and audience size – Chicago Parent. Key figures for Chicago Parent include: Rate base: 115,000 Opt-in email newsletter distribution: 10,000
Key figures for Catalyst and In the Know include: In the Know printed copies: 90,000 Catalyst e-alert distribution: 6,000
Analyzing advertising rates in Chicago Parent is important because it provides available metric by which to establish reasonable rates based on the editorial content and market size. It also will make advertising within Chicago School Zone products more competitive if the price point is below that of its primary market competition. Considerations While tax lawyers interpret federal regulations differently, our projections assume advertising revenue will be taxable according to the IRS rules on unrelated business income related to Section 501 (C)(3) organizations. Revenue estimates will be calculated based on a distribution model of 10,000 opt-in email newsletter subscribers in the first year, increasing to 32,500 by year four. Rates can be increased to maintain a baseline CPM commensurate with an increase in audience size for the newsletter. Pricing metrics Two methods for pricing advertising space on digital media: 1. CPM: Cost per thousand impressions. Price rate dependent on number of times a page is loaded during visits to site. 2. Purchasing space on digital products at a flat, monthly rate.
Website advertising projection The Chicago School Zone website will begin selling ads based on a monthly schedule. As website traffic increases, we suggest transitioning to a CPM rate that matches the Chicago market value of digital products with similar traffic and editorial content. Our advertising revenue projection is based on the assumption that 50 percent of ad space will be sold the first year, and increase by an annual rate of 5 percent, achieving 65 percent of ad space sold by year four. Based on these calculations, we project: Chicago School Zone website advertising revenue for year one = $11,700 Chicago School Zone website advertising revenue for year four = $15,210 Website advertising schedule Top banner 725x90 (1): $750/month to appear on all pages or $500/month to appear on home page. Price will convert to CPM once cost per thousand reaches $25 CPM. Middle boxes 178x132 (2): $300/month for home page. Price will convert to CPM once cost per thousand reaches $20 CPM. Bottom banner 310x132 (1): $600/month to appear on all pages or $300/month to appear on home page. Price will convert to CPM once cost per thousand reaches $20 CPM. Advertising on school choice app widget (1): We will also advertisers the option of attaching an advertisement to the widget of the school choice application @ $260/week. This will be the most heavily trafficked portion of the website during periods when families are making school choices, making it a valuable commodity for potential advertisers. Email newsletter advertising projection The Chicago School Zone email newsletter will feature advertising space. Initial rates are calculated based on an estimated distribution of 10,000 newsletters. The email newsletter will be distributed weekly, but advertising will be charged on a monthly basis We include a price per customer (PPC) calculation. The PPC will be used as a set price point from which to project an increase in charged advertising rates as audience size increases. We predict a 75 percent annual growth rate of email newsletter subscribers over the initial baseline of 10,000. The growth in audience size increases the potential for advertising revenue proportional to our established PPC.
Based on our pricing schedule and anticipated rate of audience growth we predict: Email newsletter advertising revenue year one = $20,940 Email newsletter advertising revenue year four = $81,666 Email newsletter advertising schedule Featured ad 130x260 (1): On top of page. $250/issue. ($0.025 PPC) Tile 130x130 (4): $210/issue. ($0.021 PPC) Coupon 300x 250 (1-4): $300/issue. ($0.030 PPC) We also provide the option to include the coupon on the website as well for a total price of $500. These rates are equivalent, and slightly cheaper, than the Chicago Parent opt-in emailed newsletter which is distributed to 10,000+ subscribers. Printed publication advertising projection The Chicago School Zone printed publication will offer a space for advertised sponsorship and a space for a coupon. We suggest a starting rate of $2,000 for a 1/8 page sponsorship block. This is based on equivalent market value of a 1/8 page ad with a rate base of 100,000. The coupon will be sold at a flat rate of $2,000/issue -- the equivalent rate of a 1/8 page advertisement for a rate base of 100,000. Chicago School Zone printed publication annual advertising revenue = $12,000 Market characteristics and potential customers A synthesis of the demographics of parent magazines throughout the U.S. market leads to several conclusions regarding the likely advertising demographic of the Chicago School Zone audience. Key findings include: Approximately 80 percent female. Approximately 80 percent under age 44. Approximately 97 percent are primary family spenders
While the Chicago School Zone printed publication will target primarily low-income, underrepresented parents and schools, the Chicago School Zone website and email newsletter will reach parents of all demographics and income levels within the Chicago market. A key finding analyzing existing publications is that our likely audience is likely to be dominated by women with children who are primary purchasers for their households. In addition, local businesses such as Walgreens have demonstrated a desire to support CPS. In October Walgreens began a pilot program to provide parents with a “Balance Rewards” card
with 25,000 points, worth the equivalent of $25 in Walgreens in-store purchases, when they pick up their students’ report cards and participate in parent-teacher conferences during report card pick-up days. The program will begin in fall 2012 with 70 schools across the city that have historically struggled to engage parents. We suggest the following list of potential advertisers: Walgreens Dominick’s Target Jewel-Osco IKEA Field Museum MOSI Chicago Bears Barnes & Noble
additional sources of revenue
Events Events offer a unique opportunity to create additional revenue while increasing the community footprint of Chicago School Zone and further developing brand awareness within the target audience. Events can be used to solicit donations, or a nominal charge can be levied for participation. Partnering with likely advertisers and sponsors to organize the events can also provide a source of revenue and shared cost burden for event expenses. Additionally, Catalyst can use events as a way to not only bring the parent community to them, but as a way to build a larger audience of teachers, administrators and education academics. By following the lead of the Texas Tribune – which holds an annual festival of “debate, discussion and dialogue” – Catalyst could establish an annual conference focusing on important education issues, Catalyst could also create both revenue from potential advertisers and sponsors, and an increase in readership. Other event proposals: Discount days at museums. E-newsletter sign-up events at museums. Back-to-school festival. Youth sports expo (sign-up opportunity for youth sports leagues). Student art exposition. Book fair. Educational expos (Chicago-area schools set up informational booths for parents)
Memberships Memberships are another potential revenue source. Chicago School Zone could consider establishing membership fees, or the existence of the new parent product could drive additional memberships for Catalyst. There is no additional expense incurred with offering memberships, or by potentially listing members on the website. We have not factored in membership revenue in the development of our profitability projections. Though Catalyst already employs a variation of the membership model, there is room for growth by incentivizing the idea of becoming a member. Catalyst could structure its membership model after that of WBEZ. Patrons of WBEZ who subscribe as members are offered certain benefits, such as discounted meals with local dining partners. Their member page includes a list of participating sponsors and a search function that allows users to find membership deals near them. Grants and donor funding There are sources for grants and private funding that could provide the initial investment required to implement all recommendations. Here are some foundations that have funded projects related to school reform: The Grand Victoria Foundation: Funds nonprofit organizations that aim to improve educational opportunities for children. Lumina Foundation: Strives to close the education attainment gap among minority groups and ultimately increase the higher education attainment level in the U.S. to 60 percent by the year 2025. Lumina tries to take a proactive stance against this issue by increasing the awareness of the public in regards to the benefits of receiving higher education, and bettering student access to and preparation for college. Annenberg Foundation: Supports nonprofit organizations that provide influential programs and services. They have an interest in organizations that aim to provide services to economically disadvantaged communities. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Their mission is to improve education so that all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. They seek to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career.
Discussion There are significant costs inherent in developing and operating the recommended editorial and digital products. Most significant are the one-time production costs of the digital products that only affect the year one budget. The combined investment required is $238,861. According to our projections, advertising revenue will lead to profitability during the fourth year. The investment required for start-up costs and budget deficits for years 1-3 will be met by a combined program of grants, donor funding, memberships and events.
Based on our advertising schedule, additional yearly operating expenses will be covered by advertising revenue within four years. Our recommendations provide strategies to best reach the target audience of parents with useful and dynamic tools and. Despite the initial investment required, our business plan provides a road map to profitability within four years, while enabling Catalyst to maintain reach and engage CPS parents and meet their needs. Our proposals should also allow for increasing distribution of the printed publication over time – putting information in the hands of more parents.
appendix a: industry research
chicago parent publication market
Here are some other competitors for parents’ time and attention, and for advertising from those wanting to reach those parents. Chicago Parent: A print magazine focused on parents with an online presence as well as an optin weekly electronic newsletter. The rate base and editorial content of Chicago Parent are a close analogy to a potential Catalyst parent media product. An analysis of Chicago Parent media platforms and advertising rate schedules are a valuable tool in scaling the advertising rates and the digital presence of a Catalyst product to match the market. ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ Rate base: 115,000 90 percent female 80 percent under age 44 64 percent some college AHI: $72,000 63 percent currently working full- or part-time 61 percent spend more than 30 minutes with each issue 97 percent are primary shoppers for their families
Chicago School GPS: A paid consulting service, started by three moms, to help parents identify a high school best suited for their child and situation, and to help guide the parent through the application process. This service indicates a market need for helping parents research their child’s school and make an informed choice about school selection. Chicago School GPS mission statement: We can help you navigate the confusing school search process to find the best suited public and/or private schools in the Chicago area for your child. From pre-school through high school, school choices in Chicago are an ever-changing landscape and we continually explore all options to guide you to your school destination. Use the expertise and experience of Chicago School GPS to make your school search journey an easier one. Neighborhood Parents Network: Online community to connect parents to share information. Users are required to purchase a monthly membership which permits access to all of the site’s services, including information about public, private and parochial schools. 6,000 users. Membership $45/year
Stand for Children Illinois: A policy advocacy group focused on Illinois education. Their mission is to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education. This group is primarily focused on policy and political change and a more macro-level focus on education. They are financed by donations. CPS Obsessed: A free blog and online resource designed for CPS parents and created by a parent. The site features data on CPS schools, and school enrollment information. Other area media outlets: Chicago Tribune Chicago Sun-Times WGN Fox Chicago WFLD NBC 5 Chicago ABC 7 Chicago
non-profit revenue restrictions
Organizational prohibitions – Most nonprofit organizations reject ‘sin’ ads such as tobacco, alcohol and pornography, and Catalyst may have other ethical or mission-driven conflicts with certain advertisers. Catalyst leadership will need to draw up a list of products that would compliment its mission. Postal restrictions – The post office charges higher prices for advertising material than for editorial content. No matter what kind of mailing permit, postage will be more expensive if it involves ads. But extra postage is easy to recover from ad income. In addition, if material is mailed by one specific permit category – nonprofit standard mail – then it is prohibited to run any ads for financial services, travel, or insurance. All of the postal regulations are available in the Domestic Mail Manual on their website. IRS restrictions – ALL advertising income is classified ad ‘unrelated business income’ by the IRS, but it does not directly prohibit any kinds of ads from nonprofit publications or websites. Taxes will be levied on profits from advertising sales. The IRS provides explicit instructions for calculating advertising sales profits on its website: General Rules for UBIT and for more information on IRS rules about UBIT, read IRS Publication 598, Tax on Unrelated Income of Exempt Organizations, available online at www.irs.gov, or by calling the IRS at 800-829-3676. As a default, the IRS considers advertising sales unrelated business income and imposes a tax on profits from ad sales. Tax-exempt status can be lost by having too much unrelated business income (UBI). The IRS has not issued any specific guidelines as to what this threshold is. There are instances of non-profits deriving 50 percent of income from UBI and the exempt status was upheld.
All unrelated business profits are taxable, including profits from advertising sales. The UBI tax law distinguishes between advertising, which involves the promotion of goods and services (UBIT applies), and donor recognition, which involves a mere acknowledgement of a donor's support (UBIT does not apply). We understand that some nonprofit publishers have managed to avoid taxation through tactics such as: soliciting sponsorships rather than advertisements; being careful to avoid overly promotional messages in the advertisements; or pursuing on advertisers that can be deemed related to the mission of the publication. For our business plan, we chose to include an assumption that taxes will be due on advertising income after commissions are deducted.
appendix b: business plan details
1) website expenses
Initial website production: ‐ 6 weeks building/production time ‐ For 36-hour work week: $140/hour x 216 hours): Total = $30,240 TOTAL WEBSITE PRODUCTION COSTS = $30,000 Website maintenance (annual): Budget for extra, freelance web maintenance: - 40 hours a year @ $140/hour - Total: $5,600 Hosting: - $100/month (Total cost depends on how we format the final projections.) ANNUAL WEBSITE MAINTENANCE COSTS = $6,800
2) chicago school select expenses
The estimate for the design and development of the School Choice web site is based on the following assumptions: 1. Database Architecture and Maintenance The Chicago School Select application is anticipated to utilize the following data sets: o o o o o o Illinois State Board of Education school data The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research school data Chicago Public Schools school data Chicago Police Department neighborhood crime data Chicago Transit Authority public transportation data Chicago Public Schools busing data
2. Features The site is anticipated to have the following features: Search for schools School search results page Filter schools by select criteria Compare schools Detail pages for each school Contact School Choice Professional fees (estimate): $140,000 – $170,000
App maintenance: Data updates: - Hire freelancer for ~$25-$40/hour - Update data quarterly, 1 40-hour week each quarter Hosting fees per year: - $2,500 ANNUAL APP MAINTENANCE COSTS = $6,500 – $8,900
3) printing costs
Current pricing schedule for In the Know—provided by Aspen Printing Services:
2 versions / estimated 30,000 are Spanish 2 versions / estimated 30,000 are Spanish 2 versions / estimated 30,000 are Spanish 2 versions / estimated 30,000 are Spanish
Quantity 2 over 2 Black + PMS 185 Price per Piece 4 / 4 Full color Printing Price per Piece
$4,400.00 $0.055 $5,120.00 $0.064
$5,358.30 $0.053 $5,964.00 $0.059
$6,500.00 $0.052 $7,000.00 $0.056
$7,650.00 $0.051 $7,950.00 $0.053
Quote provided by Aspen Printing Services for the proposed two-page Chicago School Zone publication:
2 versions / estimated 30,000 are Spanish 2 versions / estimated 30,000 are Spanish 2 versions / estimated 30,000 are Spanish 2 versions / estimated 30,000 are Spanish
2 page 8.5 x 11
Quantity 2 over 2 Black + PMS 185 Price per Piece 4 / 4 Full color Printing Price per Piece
$2,687.00 $0.03 $3,421.00 $0.04
$3,222.30 $0.03 $3,831.00 $0.04
$3,856.00 $0.03 $4,367.00 $0.03
$4,494.00 $0.03 $4,810.00 $0.03
4) irs corporate business tax schedule
(1) In general the amount of the tax imposed by subsection (a) shall be the sum of A. 15 percent of so much of the taxable income as does not exceed $50,000, B. 25 percent of so much of the taxable income as exceeds $50,000 but does not exceed $75,000, C. 34 percent of so much of the taxable income as exceeds $75,000 but does not exceed $10,000,000, and D. 35 percent of so much of the taxable income as exceeds $10,000,000.
5) expense and revenue breakdown
Overall project: Expenses and revenues
Website Print newsletter Chicago School Select app Ad commissions Taxes on ad sales TOTAL EXPENSES Current printing & distribution
$ 30,240 $ 140,000
$ 51,800 $ 16,239 $ 6,500 $ 7,710 $ 10,923 $ 93,172 $ 13,956
$ 53,150 $ 16,239 $ 6,500 $ 10,029 $ 14,207 $ 100,125 $ 13,956
$ 54,541 $ 16,239 $ 6,500 $ 13,604 $ 19,272 $ 110,155 $ 13,956
$ 55,973 $ 16,239 $ 6,500 $ 17,650 $ 25,004 $ 121,365 $ 13,956
$ 11,700 $ 20,940 $ 12,000 $ 6,760
$ 12,870 $ 34,551 $ 12,000 $ 7,436
$ 96,199 $ 107,409
$ 14,040 $ 56,538 $ 12,000 $ 8,112 $ 77,087 $ 15,210 $ 81,666 $ 12,000 $ 8,788 $ 100,014
Website Email newsletter Print newsletter Chicago School Select app
Revenue subject to tax
$ 90,690 $ 117,664
Chicago School Select – Web application: Expenses and revenues
App development Hosting App ‐ data updates
$ 2,500 $ 4,000
$ 2,500 $ 4,000
$ 2,500 $ 4,000
$ 2,500 $ 4,000
$ 6,500 $ 6,500
School choice app ‐ advertising $ 6,760 $ 7,436 $ 8,112 $ 8,788
$ 8,112 $ 8,788
Editorial products: Expenses and revenues
Website development Website ‐ technical maintenance Producer reporter ($40K base) Web hosting TOTAL – WEBSITE
$ 5,600 $ 45,000 $ 1,200 $ 51,800 $ 11,379 $ 4,860 $ 16,239 $ 10,716 $ 3,240 $ 13,956 $ 2,283
$ 5,600 $ 46,350 $ 1,200 $ 53,150 $ 11,379 $ 4,860 $ 16,239 $ 10,716 $ 3,240 $ 13,956 $ 2,283 $ 69,389
$ 5,600 $ 47,741 $ 1,200 $ 54,541 $ 11,379 $ 4,860 $ 16,239 $ 10,716 $ 3,240 $ 13,956 $ 2,283 $ 70,780
$ 5,600 $ 49,173 $ 1,200 $ 55,973 $ 11,379 $ 4,860 $ 16,239 $ 10,716 $ 3,240 $ 13,956 $ 2,283 $ 72,212
Printing ‐ 100,000 copies Distribution Total projected printing & distribution Current printing costs Current distribution costs Total current printing & distribution Incremental printing & distribution TOTAL EXPENSES $ 30,240
$ 56,824 $ 58,256
Top banner Middle boxes Bottom banner TOTAL – WEBSITE
$ 4,500 $ 3,600 $ 3,600 $ 11,700 $ 1,500 $ 5,040 $ 14,400 $ 20,940 $ 6,000 $ 6,000 $ 12,000
$ 4,950 $ 3,960 $ 3,960 $ 12,870 $ 2,475 $ 8,316 $ 23,760 $ 34,551 $ 6,000 $ 6,000 $ 12,000
$ 5,400 $ 4,320 $ 4,320 $ 14,040 $ 4,050 $ 13,608 $ 38,880 $ 56,538 $ 6,000 $ 6,000 $ 12,000
$ 5,850 $ 4,680 $ 4,680 $ 15,210 $ 5,850 $ 19,656 $ 56,160 $ 81,666 $ 6,000 $ 6,000 $ 12,000
Featured ad Tile ad Coupon ad TOTAL – EMAIL NEWSLETTER
Sponsorship Coupon ads TOTAL ‐‐ PRINT NEWSLETTER
$ 82,578 $ 108,876
c. chicago school select: what’s next?
Our prototype demonstrates the key features that we think should be part of a fully functional school choice application. Here are the additions we recommend:
1. Add the capacity to choose among CPS high schools
While our demo application includes only elementary schools, it will be critical to include high schools as well. Although there would only be a few minor changes to the interface, there would be a significant amount of time needed for research, data integration and programming. We would recommend conducting focus groups and in-depth interviews with CPS parents to ascertain what values and criteria are important to them when it comes to choosing a high school. Research would then need to be conducted into determining which metrics would most accurately represent those values/criteria. From there, the data would have to be collected and the app programmed to incorporate this new data set.
2. Allow parents to filter schools based on transportation availability
Our interviews and focus groups made clear that availability of transportation is critical to school choice decisions. For elementary students, too young to take public transportation, parents want to know about availability of CPS school buses. We know this information is available from CPS but it does not appear that it is possible currently to find out online based on a home address which schools offer busing and which do not. The feasibility of obtaining this information and incorporating this into Chicago School Select needs to be further investigated. For high school students and some older students, parents would want to know about accessibility via public transportation. Ideally, they would be able to filter schools by travel time on public transit. It’s possible to look up travel time online for any two addresses (using the Chicago Transit Authority website, which is powered by Google Transit. And Google Transit data is included in the Google Maps API, so it should be possible to do this.
3. Provide information about crime near schools
Because parents are very concerned about the safety, we believe the app should incorporate crime data for the area near the school – say, crimes within a quarter-mile radius. The Chicago police department makes crime data available online, but it would need to be integrated with the app.
4. Let parents see each school’s academic performance for children like theirs
Rather than look at academic performance data for all students in a school, many parents might like to see data for children having certain characteristics. For instance, a parent might like to see test score trends for boys, or girls, or African-American students, those for whom English is a second language, or those with learning disabilities. This data is collected and reported by the
schools; we think it is desirable to incorporate it into the application so parents can choose schools based on it.
5. User reviews/comments for each school:
A common refrain we heard during both our focus groups and user experience testing was the desire for a third-party online community dedicated to providing user comments on CPS schools. Chicago School Select would be the ideal space for such a forum, with a robust discussion thread providing users with anecdotal context to the objective data that currently fuels the app. We imagine each school’s data page could feature a Yelp-like discussion forum that is at first moderated by Catalyst’s staff, then transitioned to community-led moderation once a user base is built-up. There can also be a shortcut on the app’s first screen that would allow users to go directly to each school’s forum.
6. A more complete list of school programs and extracurricular opportunities:
Owing to the vast array of options available, we limited the current list of “special programs.” However, more research could be conducted to determine what other extracurricular or specialty programs users would like to see featured, including: sports and fitness, health and wellness opportunities and scholastic opportunities.
7. Social Media Integration
To help build Catalyst’s online presence, aid in SEO and increase brand visibility, the final app would ideally have cross-platform social media integration built-in. For example, automatic posting to a user’s Facebook account when leaving a user comment for a school. Or, “share” buttons that would allow users to post their school search results on Twitter or Facebook. General information on the data sets
8. Ad Serving
This could entail building space on current screens for banner/splash ads or providing sponsorship and co-branding opportunities. More details on the possible revenue stream from this functionality is covered in the business section.
the innovation project team
Elise Menaker Elise came to Northwestern University after playing professional softball in Sweden and working in local television as a general assignment reporter at the ABC affiliate in Columbia, Mo. She is familiar with the print world as she interned with Chicago Magazine and Modern Luxury's CS Magazine for several years. She also served as cofounder and president of Slope Magazine at Cornell University, where she received her undergraduate degree. She is on the broadcast track at Northwestern and looks forward to pursuing a career in sports broadcasting. Michael Ahene Born and raised in Bethlehem, PA, Michael has had no shortage of exposure to the thriving urban landscapes of both Philadelphia and New York City. Frequent trips out of the cornfields of the Lehigh Valley and into the city fostered in him an interest in urban art, culture and music, which he explores through his writing. Joe Van Acker Joe was born and raised in Virginia. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2006 and spent some time in Nashville, Tenn. before moving to southern Japan to teach English for two years. Joe focused on magazine writing/editing at Medill, loves to travel and appreciates a good taco. Julia O'Donoghue Julia covered state government and politics at The Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia before enrolling in graduate school. Her work has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association, Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association, National Newspaper Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Julia received her undergraduate degree from Macalester College and hails from Washington D.C. Hope Holmberg Hope is from Chicago and earned a bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing from Miami University in 2011. During undergrad, she was a reporter and editor for the school paper, and worked for a branch of local newspapers in northern Cincinnati. At Medill, she focused on magazine writing/editing. Kalle Eko Kalle is a documentary photographer and online media fellow in the office of Tammy Duckworth for Congress. He received his A.B. from Princeton University and is a graduate student at the Medill School of Northwestern University. Prior to his work on the Duckworth campaign, he served as the first graduate social media fellow in the press office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Rachel MacDonald Rachel is in the interactive concentration at Medill after completing her undergraduate studies at Grand Valley State University. She was a contributing writer for KHLOE Magazine and an intern at Revue Magazine before attending Northwestern University. She has had a creative nonfiction piece published by Fishladder: A Student Journal of Art and Writing, and built and managed a website for her undergraduate sports team. She is interested in pursuing a career in public relations after graduation. Alyssa Samson Alyssa grew up in the bustling suburb of Aurora, Colorado. Last year, she graduated from the University of Denver with a BA in Journalism and a minor in Geology. She is interested in pursuing a career in science journalism. Nolan Peterson Nolan is a former USAF special operations pilot. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2004, and has a master's degree from Middlebury College earned while studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, France as a Gerhart Fellow. He has been to all seven continents on adventures from running a marathon in Antarctica, to swimming the Hellespont and climbing mountains in the Himalayas. Katie Dzwierzynski Katie is an MSJ candidate at Northwestern's Medill School and a 2011 graduate of the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in English. She is an avid sports fan and covers the South Carolina Gamecocks for the Aerys Sports online network. In her free time, Katie also enjoys baking, reading and tweeting. Lacy Schley Lacy is a native of Richmond, Va. and graduated from Randolph-Macon College in 2011, with a B.A. in Psychology. Her concentrations at Medill include both health and science reporting and magazine. Joe Uchill Joe is a graduate of Boston College and an all-around okay guy. Nick Przybyciel Nick is a master’s degree candidate at Northwestern University’s Medill School, focusing on interactive publishing and business journalism. His experience includes eight years in the Air Force as well as public relations. Carly Syms Carly is an MSJ candidate at Northwestern University and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Communications and Political Science. She is the author of three young adult novels, including Amazon bestseller Cinderella in Cleats.
The Chicago Community Trust (especially Ngoan Le and Vivian Vahlberg) The Community News Matters program (funded by the Chicago Community Trust, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Woods Fund of Chicago) Linda Lenz and the staff of Catalyst Chicago The team at Survey Center Focus Patricia De Biasi Kurt Cooney (Kelvyn Park High School) Joe Sanchez (Barrington High School) Kate Proto (CICS) Director Andrew Parker (CICS Prairie) Lance Hassan (PTSO) Phoenix Military Academy Walter Payton College Prep Jeanne Marie Olson and the “Apples 2 Apples” research project team at Illinois Raise Your Hand Julie Woestehoff (Parents United for Responsible Education [PURE]) Ellen Schumer (Community Organizing and Family Issues [COFI]) Sarah Cobb, Jay Annadurai and Lee Haas (Neighborhood Parents Network [NPN]) Mary McClelland (Stand for Children Illinois) Joanna Brown (Logan Square Neighborhood Association) Industry experts who visited us: Evan Smith (Texas Tribune) Tim Landon (Wrapports) Bill McDowell (Marketing & Technology Group) Medill faculty: Richard Alvarez, Stephanie Edgerly, Judy Franks, Jeremy Gilbert, Darnell Little, Andrew Skwish, Patti Wolter, Owen Youngman