Sunday, April 8, 2012

Five Myths About Community Outreach Educational Institutions Need To Know

Dr. Mike Robinson

Many organizations, to include public K-12 schools and institutions of higher education believe a connection with their local communities is imperative to their ability to respond to their mission while offering solutions to many of the systemic needs facing those within their communities. However, there is a belief among organizational leaders that community outreach is simply a matter of knocking on doors or passing out flyers at local community events.  Albeit those are several of the methods one can use to reach their constituents, the fact is community outreach is much more than that!

Community outreach requires a strategic approach, a methodology that ensures your efforts garner the optimal results and that those reached are best able at the time of your outreach to benefit from your services, desire your services and understand your services. 

Here are five myths regarding community outreach every organizational leader needs to know, as they will assist in creating a more effective community outreach program with a solid community outreach strategy.

Myth # 1 It Is Community Outreach, It Cannot Be That Hard

Community outreach can be done over the phone or simply from behind a desk. This is perhaps the most damaging of all the myths, as it the one typically accepted by those leaders with the least understanding of the mission of the organization and what is community outreach.

Truth is effective community outreach has a strong base of research that does have a need for a level of office work. But the more effective outreach research is conducted on the ground within the communities one seeks to serve.

Myth # 2 They Have To Want Our Help:

Communities are always amenable to organizations entering their neighborhoods promoting programs, services and opportunities. Organizations that assume, because we are a high profile institution or because we are addressing a need that impacts the majority of the residents of this community, therefore they will accept us with open arms is to discount the unique, distinct and diversity of each neighborhood that makes up a community.

Myth # 3 Community Outreach Cannot Contribute To The Bottom Line: 

Community outreach is not a major avenue to create a revenue stream or provide fiscal opportunities for an organization.  While many organizations, especially community colleges have come to understand that an effective community outreach program, grounded in research and an understanding of community norms can create increased enrollment, expand the communities’ educated workforce and serve as the economic engine of the community have come to understand the revenue generating potential of the an effective community outreach program.

Myth # 4 Strategy Not Needed:

Community outreach does not require a strategic assessment and implementation and can be effectively conducted via a willy nilly approach. In these times of fiscal challenges, tight budgets and competing initiatives, failure to take a strategic perspective on how best to reach those who can and will access your programs or services can result in a waste of revenue, manpower, and other organizational resources.

Myth # 5 Staff Departure:

Community outreach staff are not really performing outreach, but they are out looking for a job. This is one of the most ridiculous myths in the industry of community outreach.  Effective community outreach staff will meet and network with countless community and business leaders and on a few occasions they will be offered opportunities to work with other organizations.  While staff turnover is not good for any organization or a department it does negatively impact a community outreach division. However, the possibility of staff finding employment elsewhere does not justify unprofessional scrutiny and mistrust by leadership. When this occurs the effectiveness of an organization’s community outreach is doomed for failure.

Dr. Mike Robinson is the creator of the National Men Make A Difference Day for Student Success and the host of Parent Talk Live. Dr. Robinson is a leading voice/expert on parental engagement and community outreach in education. He is also the CO- CEO of Forest Of The Rain Productions, an Internet communication company, whose mission is to expand the voices in and about education.

To contact Dr. Mike Robinson, visit or email at

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Robinson, this is a great article, and I'm glad you shared. As a graphic designer that wholeheartedly believes in the power of branding and messaging, I encourage the organizations I do work for to always approach every marketing solution strategically and within their brand and organizational messaging, vision and goals. Even broader than their flyers and brochures, ensuring every representative of the organization understands the research invested knowing how to position itself and market itself as a viable asset to the community. So many organizations are anxious to put anything up, or get anything outa brochure, business card, website—and oftentimes don't align those tools effectively with the message they want to get to the community they wish to serve. In the end, both the organization and community lose because the message is not effectively getting to the people who could benefit the most. Successful community outreach requires consistent messaging, continuous networking, successful partnerships, and quality services.


Photos of the 2010 Parental Engagement Conference

Your pictures and fotos in a slideshow on MySpace, eBay, Facebook or your website!view all pictures of this slideshow

The Middle School Years

Visits From Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators