EPC Training #1: Host Family Recruitment & Student Placement

Part 3: Promote the Program

You may find your first host family by yourself, or it may be a referral from your Team Leader. Don’t sit around and wait for the phone to ring!  There are many easy, inexpensive, grassroots methods for finding families in your community. Try some of these!

Sit down with a copy of your local newspaper and look for every possible way to publicize the program. Some ideas include:

  • Work with your Team Leader to create a press release announcing that your community has a new Exchange Program Coordinator (you!);
  • Once you make a placement, ask the family if you (with help from your Team Leader) can create a press release announcing that they will be hosting;
  • The newspaper is FILLED with activities, names, and telephone numbers for the contact person. Watch for such activities as music events, piano concerts, cultural events, martial arts tournaments, etc. Call the contact person, introduce yourself, and ask if you can drop off flyers; 
  • Look for upcoming fairs where you can set up a booth - county fairs, volunteer fairs, community fairs, etc.

Send announcements to be included in places of religious worship – CHURCHES, SYNAGOGUES, TEMPLES and MOSQUES. Prepare a list of at least 25 – 50 churches in your immediate area. Note each church's email address, fax number or mailing address. Then, contact your Team Leader for help in sending an announcement to each place of worship to be included in the newsletter or service bulletin.

Send PRESS RELEASES to LOCAL NEWSPAPERS, TV STATIONS and RADIO STATIONS. Compile a list of all of your community’s newspapers, local magazines, local TV stations and radio stations, as well as their e-mail address or fax number. Then, contact your Team Leader, who will assist you in sending press releases to your list.

DISTRIBUTE FLYERS to at least 15 different locations. Your team leader can give you flyers or help you make some that meet with government regulations. Keep a stack of flyers in the back seat of your car. As you are out in the community conducting business or running errands, drop off a few flyers. You WILL see results in just a few short weeks!  Consider posting flyers at:

  • Schools
  • Libraries & bookstores
  • Coffee shops
  • Bowling alleys
  • Church bulletin boards
  • Community sports organizations
  • Clubhouses (Elks, YMCA, country clubs, etc.)
  • Toy, hobby and craft stores
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners and car washes
  • Public libraries and bookstores
  • Grocery and convenience stores
  • Video stores and movie theaters
  • Local shopping centers and malls
  • Recreation centers and public pools
  • Anywhere people are waiting in line
  • Town halls and community bulletin boards
  • Employee lunchrooms at local companies & schools
  • School libraries, guidance offices and bulletin boards
  • Faculty office buildings or cafeterias at local colleges and universities

NETWORK!  Talk to EVERYONE you know. An increasing number of placements each season come from referrals. This means someone an EPC knows recommended the SHARE! program to someone else who hosted a student. Talk to everyone you meet, including:

  • Relatives;
  • Neighbors;
  • Friends;
  • Co-workers;
  • Community sports teams
  • Clubs & organizations that you belong to;
  • People with whom you went to school;
  • Parents of your childrens’ friends (and children of your parents' friends!);
  • Your dentist, doctor, veterinarian, hairstylist

Study STUDENTS' INTERESTS. Check out our student applications and profiles online to find students’ activities and interests. (Important!  You cannot target high school sports teams or their coaches.  You'll learn more later in this training.) Contact relevant organizations, including:

  • Martial arts centers;
  • Music schools
  • Places of worship
  • Equestrian centers
  • Chess clubs
  • Community choirs
  • Language or cultural clubs
  • Dance schools
  • Professional organizations
  • Art schools

For example, you might call a local piano school and tell them that you are looking for a host family for a high schooler from Germany who plays the piano.  Most organizations will include an announcement in their newsletter, post information on a bulletin board, or make an announcement at a meeting. We can create a special flyer targeted to specific organizations. Call your Team Leader to get more information. Also, start a spreadsheet with names of organizations, contact persons, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers. If you come across a student with those interests, you will already have the contact info of the organization in your database. Again, remember, you cannot target high school sports teams or coaches.

Making Your First Placement: Answering Phone Calls

Sometime soon, your first family will call!  Follow these simple steps to turn a phone call into a placement...

1. First explain a little bit about the program, for example: “We are a non-profit educational foundation involved in high school exchange. The students are between the ages of 15 and 18, and will arrive in early August (or January). They live with a volunteer host family, who provides a bed and meals, and attend the high school closest to your home. The students speak English, and have their own spending money and medical insurance.

2. Ask how they heard about SHARE!

3. Collect as much information as you can on this first contact.  Don't assume they will call you again:

  • Their name, phone number & email address;
  • Do they have a gender and/or nationality preference?
  • What activities are they involved in? (i.e., camping, chess, sports, music, drama, etc.)?
  • Do they have indoor pets? (We have some students who are allergic to animals; we also have students who LOVE animals!)
  • Do they attend religious services? If so, where and how often do they attend?
  • Do they have any dietary restrictions?
  • Is any member of the family a sports coach? (If so, a student who plays that sport competitively may not be placed with this family.)

4. In closing the conversation, let the person know that we will send an email with details about the SHARE! program, a link for them to begin a host family application, and 4-5 student applications for their review. Let them know that once they have received the information, they should review it and call you as soon as possible, to have the best chance of securing a compatible student.