CEO Brizard Calls Parents in Back To School Phone Bank 

Groupon’s Kits for Kidz Offer Launches Today


July 26, 2011


Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard today continued his commitment to engage parents in CPS’s efforts to get students in the classroom on the first day of school by joining fellow staff at a CPS phone bank targeting parents to remind them of the two 2011/2012 school start dates: Monday, August 8th for Early Start Schools (Track E) and Tuesday, September 6th for Regular Start Schools (Track R).


Last week, CEO Brizard and elected officials launched the 2011-2012 back to school campaign that will marry new media technologies and grassroots activities to increase attendance on the first day of school.


Mayor Emanuel also issued a Call to Action for City departments and sister agencies, local businesses, faith leaders and community organizations to boost the Chicago Public Schools efforts to have students in school on the first day. His office sent out a letter to all city department and sister agencies heads outlining the actions he is asking them to take in promoting back to school awareness.


“Instruction begins on the first day of school and we need every student in class from day one so that they do not fall behind,” Brizard said. “I know from personal experience as a teacher and a principal that the time spent in the classroom on the first day sets the tone and culture for the rest of the school year and leads to better educational outcomes.”


Today also marked the launch of the Chicago Public Schools and Groupon G-team offer that will allow Chicagoans to purchase school supply kits for CPS low-income students. The Kits for Kidz campaign will be available through Groupon’s daily email and on beginning on Tuesday, July 26th and running through Thursday, July 28th. Residents will have the option to pledge support in increments of $12, which each pledge will provide one pre-made school supply kit for a CPS student that will help prepare them for the first day of school.


According to national experts, it is vital that students start the school year with strong attendance. Studies show that

students who build good attendance habits are making the right choices to help them stay on track to graduate and



While it is critical that students are in school learning on the first day, Brizard also noted that schools also provide students with a safe environment. Over the last two school years, reported crime in schools decreased by 22%.


Some of the back to school campaign activities CPS will lead includes:

  • Door to door outreach
  • Robo calls to CPS households
  • Targeted literature drops at El stations, bus stations and neighborhood festivals
  • Phone bank calls targeting parents
  • CTA ad campaign
  • Text messages and e-mail blasts to parents reminding them of back to school start dates
  • Google and Facebook ads aimed at parents to remind them of back to school start dates


CPS this year will be placing a special emphasis to target the city’s areas with the highest truancy rates. These areas are Englewood, Humboldt Park, East Garfield, West Garfield, North Lawndale, Woodlawn, and Austin.  CPS will place extra resources in these areas during the Track E and Track R blitzes.


Mayor Emanuel will call all City departments and sister agencies to aid in CPS’s efforts.  They include:

  • Agencies with summer programs for children will send home letters with kids reminding families of the back to school start dates
  • Hang back to school posters at all public facilities, including offices, parks, libraries, etc.
  • Post back to school date reminders and links to the CPS website on city websites and social media sites
  • Place back to school date reminders in employee paycheck envelopes
  • Send back to school e-mail blasts to staff members to remind them of back to school dates
  • Announce back to school reminders via live and taped messages at all City-sponsored festivals and events


CPS is also working with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association to connect with over 40 different retailers and chains throughout the city to spread the word about back to school. They will participate by:

  • Hanging CPS Back to School posters prominently in their stores
  • Printing school start dates on customer receipts
  • Posting back to school dates on their websites
  • Placing back to school date reminders in employee paychecks
  • Reminding employees of back to school start dates in employee communications, including newsletters and emails


CPS has enjoyed a long relationship with the faith community in promoting back to school. They will continue their support by:

  • Enlisting Safe Haven Program faith partners to send children home with a letter to their parents reminding them of back to school start dates
  • Reminding congregations of back to school dates during sermons
  • Printing back to school information in church programs and bulletins
  • Posting the back to school dates and reminders on church marquees
  • Sending email blasts to their congregations and communities with back to school date reminders


This year, 52 more schools will begin the Early Start calendar (Track E), bringing the total number of Early Start Schools up to 247 schools, serving more than 115,000 Chicago students. CPS encourages parents to check with their school and visit to be sure they know the correct start date for their child’s school.


Corporate sponsors have also helped in the back to school efforts through generous donations. Back to School sponsors include, Fleishman-Hillard, Peoples Gas, Chartwells, Comcast, Discover, HMH Foundation, Loop Capital, PNC, Bank of America, Harris Bank, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Foundation, Museum of Science and Industry, Loop Capital, and Target. Other sponsors will be announced in the coming days and weeks.


Parents can view a full list of Early Start and Regular Start schools at the CPS Back to School Page or call the back to school hotline at (773) 553-3CPS (3277).  They can also contact their school directly to confirm start dates.


About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 409,279 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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Back to school phone bank
Photo gallery: Back to school 2011