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Community Relations
Matching Minutes for Mentors and Helping Children

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Situation:

Cellular One asked Potomac Incorporated to identify an educational program that would make a significant contribution to the community and would allow this growing firm in the mid-Atlantic region to showcase its reputation and assets as a good corporate citizen.

Potomac assembled its team of strategists, survey researchers, public servants, and campaign designers. We talked with legislators, parents, and program administrators. And we reached out to national organizations during our intense exploration.

Cell One Comp

In our search, we learned about the lack of after-school programs for children. About 80 percent of U.S. school children need nonparental supervision because their parents work. At least one third of these children are left unsupervised.

According to federal sources, "half of juvenile crime takes place between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. each day and the after-school hours also are the most frequent time when students are victims of crime and accidents." In fact, says the FBI, violent juvenile crime triples between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. compared to juvenile crime between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

While government and nonprofits are beginning to respond to this hot issue, corporate involvement has been largely absent.

Approach:

Potomac presented an action plan as to how Cellular One could demonstrate its leadership and encourage mentors. This plan featured the following:

  • News clips about the issue         
  • Relevant legislation         
  • Sample logos         
  • Sample print ads for daily and weekly newspapers         
  • Sample web site         
  • Sample direct mail piece for customers         
  • Sample point of sale piece for distributors

The action plan built on the corporation's affiliation with safety issues that tie beautifully with the need to create secure environments for children in after-school programs.

Potomac identified an experienced nonprofit administrator, the Baltimore Mentoring Partnership - which is affiliated with the National Mentoring Partnership - to team with Cellular One. 

Potomac conceptualized the "bonus" for participants: "Mentoring Minutes." Promotional materials emphasize that contributing positively to the lives of young children results in the most meaningful, heartfelt rewards.

We met with U.S. Department of Education officials to involve them in the launching of "Mentoring Minutes."

We prepared and distributed numerous media alerts and press releases about the launch.

We recommended the outreach program to attract, train, and place qualified mentors. 

Outcome:

Cellular One kicked off its Mentoring Minutes program on Valentine's Day at a middle school in Baltimore City. Potomac planned and coordinated this event, which featured these distinguished speakers:

  • U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley         
  • Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend         
  • U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings         
  • Maryland Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick         
  • Robert Gordon, president, Cellular One

Metoring Picture

Dunbar Middle School students each described "what mentoring means to me" with original artwork, poetry, and essays. "It takes a big heart to  mentor," the children exclaimed.

Cellular One now runs weekly ads in Baltimore papers. 

Mentors are being trained and placed in the area's after-school programs.

An informational, personalized direct-mail packet was mailed to 1,000 community leaders and educators. 

Customers are receiving "Mentoring Minutes - Make Your Minutes Countinserts with their monthly bills. 

A second launch targeting community and business leaders is being planned for Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and suburban Maryland.

 

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