If you’re a resident of Lawrenceville, Bloomfield or Garfield, expect a knock on your door by the end of next weekend. Lawrenceville United (LU) and a team of 100 volunteers made up of local parents, teachers and community leaders are undertaking an ambitious project–to personally connect face-to-face with every single family in these three city neighborhoods.
“This is the largest-scale canvassing effort to reach local families that I’m aware of,” says Dave Breingan, community organizer for LU, who spearheaded this Family Outreach Rally along with the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Public Schools and a wide network of other child-serving organizations in the area.
Taking place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday May 2nd and 9th, volunteers will hit the streets with a few goals in mind. “The primary goal of the Family Outreach Rally is to make sure that all kids in our neighborhoods are enrolled on time for kindergarten,” says Breingan. “But we also want to take the opportunity to tell families about the exciting things happening in our neighborhood schools and about resources in the community that can support their child’s development like high quality pre-K, the Lawrenceville Family Care Connection, Ready Rosie and the library, to name just a few.”
Thanks to GTECH Strategies and LocalData, canvassers will also be equipped with an app-based survey they can use to collect data about families in real-time. “The main purpose of collecting the data is so that we can do follow-up with the families that want it,” says Breingan. “For instance, if there’s a family with a child turning 5 in August and they want to learn more about their neighborhood school, we can make sure they’re invited to transition events where they can tour the school and meet staff and other parents.”
For many volunteers, the Family Outreach Rally is less about data collection and more about personal connection. “When we moved into the neighborhood seven years ago, Lawrenceville wasn’t considered a family-friendly place and it certainly wasn’t the neighborhood it is now,” says Natalie Kovacic, a Lawrenceville mother who plans to knock on doors next Saturday. “This rally is all about building a community of families in Lawrenceville. Families should feel welcome and they should feel their input has value.”
And with the recent announcement that Lawrenceville’s Woolslair Elementary School is becoming a partial STEAM magnet school, these families have a lot to celebrate together. “The percentage of young couples in these neighborhoods is definitely rising and our school populations are growing too,” says Breingan. “For principals, teachers, parents, afterschool providers, community groups and elected officials to all come together, I think that sends a powerful message about how much we’re committed to kids in this area.”
Featured photo: Ready Freddy Kindergarten Kickoff at Arsenal Elementary School in Lawrenceville, Photo courtesy of Lawrenceville United