CRY America's strength lies in its supporters - our volunteers, donors, project partners and media, who have come together to change the situation of underprivileged children. Volunteers form the core of CRY America. They come from different walks of life - university students, professionals, housewives, peopleworking in various companies. Volunteers work among their colleagues, friends, family and local communities to create awareness about the situation of underprivileged children and harness resources... each contributing in whatever way they can.
Student Groups are important to us. If you would like to Start a Student Chapter, here are some guidelines to help you get started.
Start a Group - To ensure lasting change in the lives of children
Now that you have decided to start a Student Chapter for CRY America chapter on your University or College Campus, you must be wondering how to get started.
1. A Student Group of CRY America in a school/ university is referred to as a "Student Chapter" and most of their activities are limited to that respective academic campus. There can be only one CRY Student Chapter in a particular university/school.
2. In locations where CRY America has Action Centers (primarily run by non-student volunteers), the Student Chapter should link with the Action Center as be considered a sub set of the AC.
3. A Student Chpater of CRY America may exist as a separate entity if there is no Action Center in that city. Permitting the university/school regulations, the chapter may undertake activities outside the academic campus. Incase an AC is subsequently established, the Student Chapter will join the Action Centers activities.
4. All CRY Student Chapters are required to connect regularly with the Volunteer Action Manager, specially on Chapter plans, event materials and transfer of monies to the CRY America accounts office.
Note: Please check with your School or University Campus on different rules/policies you may have to abide by to carry out some or all these activities.
5 steps to Start a Student Group
STEP 1: Co-opt the CRY America Mission/Vision Statement for your Student Chapter.
Discuss your Mission/Vision Statement A mission (or vision) statement is a critical step towards establishing a successful new chapter. It enables you stay connected and committed to achieving the chapter goals. It's a reflection of who you are, the members of the chapter, attracts potential members and makes it simpler for the public at large to understand the chapters purpose. All activities undertaken should be inline with the mission. CRY America's mission is: To enable people to take responsibility for the situation of underprivileged children, especially Indian, and so motivate them to seek resolution through individual and collective action thereby enabling children to realize their full potential, and people to discovertheir potential for action and change. CRY America's Vision is: A happy,healthy and creative child whose rights are protected and honored in a society that is built on respect for dignity, justice and equity for all.
STEP 2: Gain knowledge about CRY America and how to manage a Student Chapter.
This is a very important step towards starting new â€˜Student Chapters'. You will represent CRY America as its local ambassador. It is necessary that you read; educate yourself about CRY America, its work, activities, the situation of children and their rights, information on supported projects prior to meeting people and spreading awareness about CRY America. Go through the site www.america.cry.org or write to the Volunteer Manager for information and updates. The CRY America website is a great place to update yourself about the essentials. Self education is very important as people are unlikely to get involved, if they think that you do not know what you are doing. To know about CRY America's accounting guidelines & requirements, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
STEP 3: Build a Volunteer Base
As a part of starting a new chapter, the first step should be on forming a core group of volunteers who will partner you in making the chapter an effective instrument of change for child rights. This group can then spread awareness about your chapters activities and enroll new volunteers. Inspiring your volunteers; circulating and sharing information on CRY America, its mission, activities and supported projects are important aspects towards establishing a strong and committed volunteer base. The members of this group will have to coordinate responsibilities related to specific functional areas like
- Volunteer mobilization and enrolling new members
- Rapport building with the School / University authorities
- Organizing Events and its promotions.
- Raising awareness about CRY America projects and child rights
- Coordinating meetings
- Managing accounts & finances
The group members could vary from 3-10 core members depending on the activities undertaken. This group as itsname indicates takes on leadership roles for the chapter. Once your have formed a strong core group and you start organizing events, other volunteers will join your group. Challenge: How to involve people in the volunteer base? Its been our experience that personal contact or face to face meetings is a great way to get like-minded individuals into this movement for childrens rights. Everyone you interact with may be a potential donor or volunteer. Given below are a few options to reach out to people and retain them.
- Talk to people - classmates, fellow students, roommates individually or in a small group, between classes, during lunch or free time on campus or in the work area
- Make an attempt to connect with existing students groups as they already have an active volunteer base, such as the Indian Students Association.
- Address meetings of groups that you belong to and other groups at school or in the community, such as the student council and local religious groups.
- Ask for a time slot at the end of a class or during an event to make an announcement or set up a table with info leaflets.
- Try to organize multiple sessions, spread across the campus so that people do not have to travel a lot to the session location. If executed properly, they can have great impact in mobilizing people.
- Include individuals from various cultures, ethnic groups. Diversity brings a wider range of ideas, opinions, talents and connections.
- Create a simple information flyer to announce your work and to encourage people to join in. Always include a contact name and phone number, and suggest ways that people can get involved.
- Ask your new volunteers to inspire other like-minded individuals. This will ensure you spread awareness about in your chapter.
- Identify people around you who may be crucial to your chapter. These individuals may have expertise in certain fields, their skills or their network could benefit your chapter [individuals such as existing student group leaders; marketing or financial consultants; media, communications and public relations]
- And most importantly - be a good listener.
- Maintain a database of all your members
- Track all suggestions, feedback, and queries and ensure you responded to them within 48 hours.
- Those who show interest like new volunteers - send them a note with information on CRY America, its work and your chapters role in ensuring children receive their rightful childhood.
- Follow up with an initial phone call and/or an email. Make sure not to spam peoples e-mail accounts with information or requests.
STEP 4: Get an Advisor for your Student Chapter, usually a Professor/ Teacher from within the University/School.
Identify a faculty or a staff advisor who shares your mission for children and is willing to liaise between the school administration and your chapter. Advisors are a great resource and have a lot to offer in terms of guidance, ideas and moral support. Note: Do check your school or campus rules/policies on appointing an advisor.
STEP 5: Get Recognized by your institution.
Official acknowledgment of your chapter by the school or campus is required by most education institutions. It attracts more volunteers and provides access to school resources (in the form of funding opportunities, event organization, planning etc.). Many schools also ask you to submit a copy of the constitution for your local chapter. There are processes and polices on this in every school/ campus. We recommend that you contact your authorities (generally student activities department) to know more about the application process, specific rules & regulation and timeframes. Note: All university registrations must be done in the full and correct name of the organization, CRY - Child Rights and You America Inc.
Managing a Volunteer Group For The Cause of Underprivileged Children
Here's the crucial aspect of managing any group and more so with the Students for CRY America. Each member of this group is an ambassador for child rights, spreading awareness and message of hope on the situation of underprivileged children. It's important at this stage to be well organized, planned and coordinated as it leads to organizational efficacy. Any activity undertaken should be inline with CRY America's core values of - Respect for human dignity, Transparency, Accountability, Non-violence, Secularism and Innovation.
As mentioned at various points, its essential that all chapters connect with the Volunteer Manager. or the local Action Center (if there is one within your location) for guidance and updates.
How to Manage a Group Effectively?
- Plan for Effective Meetings
A rule of thumb of facilitation is that successful meetings are 60% preparation and 20% execution. Meetings provide all those who attend an opportunity to discuss objectives,keep abreast on the chapters current events, inter-group communication, ensuring a healthy and cohesive chapter. Most of all, meetings allow your group to pull resources together for decision-making. Before the meeting, plan what, when, where, why, who and how many will participate in the meeting; prepare and send out an agenda in advance; arrive
early at your meeting venue to set up the room. At the beginning of the meeting, always begin as per schedule; do an introduction of all the attendees; get the group to voice their expectations; re-iterate the agenda and review action items from the previous meeting. During the Meeting, to ensure the group is actively participating, you can ask questions as there are always silent participants who have a doubt but do not voice it; clarify issues; provide for options to situations; and listen. Effective meetings usually adhere to the meeting agenda and time schedule. At the end of the meeting, summarize the discussions, delegate clear responsibilities, identify additional data needed to make decisions, set the date and place of the next meeting with a preliminary agenda and close the meeting. After the meeting, remember to follow-up on action items and begin putting together the agenda for the next meeting.
- Recruit and Retain Volunteers
Basic Principles include trusting your volunteers. Let them do the assigned task without too much of interference. Make sure to appreciate what they do and inform them that their actions benefit children. Value your volunteers time. Give clear information on roles, responsibilities and commitment. Involve volunteers and encourage them to contribute to decisions. Use the strength of the team to get the work done.
Tips for Recruiting Student Volunteers: Be positive and enthusiastic - it's an excellent motivator. Show your potential volunteers the benefits of their actions. Elucidate roles and responsibilities and time commitment required.
Frequently value and appreciate their actions and work. Involve students from diverse organizations or groups. It leads to a healthy exchange of ideas and experiences. Do not question any members motives of involvement. At CRY America we believe each one can make a difference. Address all feedback, suggestions, queries received.
Tips for Retaining Student Volunteers: Recognize, value and appreciate your teams efforts. Set an agenda for meetings and adhere to it. Attach more experienced volunteers to new entrants on activities. They can guide them on the tasks, the dos and don'ts involved it also creates a healthy team environment. Encourage committed on-going volunteers to take on leadership roles. Welcome volunteers at all time be it individuals who can support you
only for a specific task or time period or even those who return after long breaks. They are all champions for children. As a leader of your group, be part of the team, get hands-on involved in tasks and activities. You also require to positive even when things are not going as planned. Your optimism will motivate your teams 100%. Let your volunteers be part of the board meetings. Ensure you address their queries, and implement their suggestions.
- Plan and Set Goals/Plans
This area will help you in putting down key focus points for your group. Goals are statements describing what a chapter wishes to accomplish. Objectives are descriptions of exactly what is to be done in order to meet your goals. Clear directions not only gets you committed volunteers but also motivates the entire team.
Here are some tips on setting goals:
- Ideate goals with volunteers on what you would like your chapter to achieve and prioritize them.
- Determine objectives for each goal with clear measurable action points.
- Implement finalized objectives within the specified timeframes.
- Ensure contingency plans incase objectives not going as per schedule.
- Regularly evaluate your progress. Be open to change objectives. Modify them according to the changes in circumstances and environment. It will help you in achieving your goal.
- Join Hands with Other Organizations:
Collaboration on ideas, resources, information with other groups and organizations will not only increase your chapters awareness but also help you reach out to many more individuals. You could benefit from their activities, planning processes, strategies, events organized and much more. CRY America is a peoples movement on child rights and our mission is about collective action for children. As a leader, you need to ensure that the organization is in sync with CRY Americas mission and core values. Note: Please get in touch with your school or campus authorities to know more about rules & regulation for collaborating with other organizations.
- Plan Events and Activities:
Events and activities can be powerful tools to raise awareness about children and their rights in your community. It also enables you reach out to people, acquire new members, and strengthen the group. To help you in organizing this, the following are some tips:
- State the objective of organizing an event or activity e.g.: is it to raise funds or create awareness. Accordingly, indicate a target figure you wish to accomplish.
- Assess the resources available to you be it budgets you have for the event or manpower [faculty and staff members, students, and community groups are all resources].
- Brainstorm on ideas for the event. List all suggestions. Shortlist and assess feasibility for each.
- Put a brief on the concept of the event, your target audience, date, and venue and details of what you are organizing.
- Make small task forces based on the jobs to be completed. Work backwards from the date of the event to the present. Make a schedule that covers each task and who in your chapter is responsible to complete it.
- Reserve resources you need from your campus in advance. There are many groups working on your campus competing for the school resources. Ensure you complete the necessary paperwork required well in advance.
- Draw up a budget for your event - lists all associated costs and allocate the available funds. You may have to contact various departments for cost estimates associated with their services. Make sure that the cost to revenue ratio for the event is low. Ask your national leader for guidance and support.
- Get requisite permissions and fill all forms required to get your event rolling. Sometimes you may require presence of police and emergency medical services.
- Ensure your collateral material like banners, posters are ready and displayed.
- Meet with your task forces regularly. It will help you in assessing the progress or indicate hurdles faced by the team, enabling you to make the necessary changes. The closer you get to the event, the more frequent you should meet with them.
- Document the event and the processes including financials. It will help you for future activities and can work as a manual to the teams.
- Post the event, you need to evaluate its success and report the same to all concerned groups. Write a brief synopsis of the event, including participant and planner comments, attendance, suggestions for future events, and final costs. Remember to send in your event report to the national group. And most importantly, clear your accounts with CRY America accountants within2 weeks of the event
- View existing student groups
Join a Student Group: To join an existing Group, please browse through the chapters in universities/schools listed below and contact the one nearest to you.
- Lansdale, PA Student Chapter - Leader: Shezda Afrin - email@example.com
- Lexington University, KY Student Chapter - Leader: Priyam Saharia - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Munster Student Chapter - Venkat Rathnam & Nathalie Kauz - email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
- New Jersey Action Center - Leaders: Nikita Bhatia & Shikha Bhatia - email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
- Oregon State University Student Chapter - Leader: Heema Shah - email@example.com
- Raleigh Action Center - Leaders: Nishant Singh & Anju Singh - firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
- Texas A&M University (TAMU) Student Chapter - Leader: Manzil Quadir - firstname.lastname@example.org
- University of Washington (UWA) Student Chapter - Leader: Khushbu Sodhi - email@example.com
If you would like to Start a CRY America Student Chapter, contact the Volunteer Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a University/College Student looking for something to do during the summer vacations, join the CRY America Summer Intern Program!
CRY America is looking for Student Interns!
If you are a University/College Student looking for something to do during the summer vacations â€¦ join the CRY America Summer Intern Program! Help with organizing fun events, with media outreach, student outreach, social media promotions and irreversibly changing the lives of underprivileged children in India & the USA! Check out the listing below for cities where we need student interns:
1. San Diego AC - CRY Walk publicity, media outreach, event sponsorships - contact Edward @ email@example.com
2. Seattle AC - event organizing, media outreach, event sponsorships - contact Rajesh @ firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Boston AC - CRY Walk event organizing, media outreach - contact Harshita @ email@example.com
4. Houston AC - CRY Walk event organizing, media outreach - contact Dharam @ firstname.lastname@example.org
5. New York AC - CRY Walk event organizing & publicity support - contact Parul @ email@example.com
6. Bay Area AC - CRY Walk event organizing, student outreach, media outreach - contact Sushmita @ firstname.lastname@example.org
7. South California AC - CRY Walk event organizing, student outreach, media outreach - contact Pooja @ email@example.com
8. Chicago AC - CRY Walk event organizing, student outreach, media outreach - contact Sol @ firstname.lastname@example.org
9. Pittsburgh AC - CRY Walk event organizing, student outreach, media outreach - contact Sol @ email@example.com
10. Dallas AC - CRY Walk event organizing, student outreach, media outreach - contact Sol @ firstname.lastname@example.org
11. Arkansas AC - CRY Walk event organizing, student outreach, media outreach - contact Sol @ email@example.com
Here are some jobs that Student Interns can help with across Action Centers:
1. CRY Walk event support:
- Assist the AC Walk lead with organizing the event - booking venue, event day set up at the venue
- Assist with walk event publicity - tabling at other community events, media outreach, social media promotions
- Assist with student involvement - talks with university and high school students to participate in the event
- Day-of-event support at the venue (setup, route marking, run timing, registration desk, t/shirt & snacks coordination, cleanup, organizing kids activities)
2. Media & Social Media support:
- Assist with sending the CRY Walk event press release to the ethnic Indian and mainstream media, including follow up on the media coverage.
- Enable pre event and post event coverage through the media - TV, Radio, Offline Publications and Online Portals.
- Invite media personalities to attend the event as a special guest.
- Assist with social media promotions for the CRY Walk - regular facebook posts and tweets.
5. Student Outreach support:
- Assist with scheduling talks at local colleges/universities about CRY America and the CRY Walk.
- Encourage students to attend the CRY Walk in teams of 8 or 10 students.
For more information on the Student Intern program, contact the Volunteer Manager @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
With best wishes,
The CRY America Team.
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