Education Foundation connects alumni in online environment

The project features the Alumni Database, allowing graduates to expand their network

Posts such as these can be seen on social media, advertising the new website and encouraging alumni to update their personal information

@newtrieref on Instagram

Posts such as these can be seen on social media, advertising the new website and encouraging alumni to update their personal information

To start a new year efficiently, the New Trier Educational Foundation partnered with the Young Alumni Leadership Council to release a new website and Alumni Database with the hopes of further connecting alumni and to build a bigger network.

The new website combines the NTEF and alumni website into one, creating the Alumni Portal and Database.

In our first week, I believe we had a little over 200 [alumni] register. Every time we do an email push or push out onto social media we’re seeing some people come in.”

— Liz Mayer

“We’ve put a lot more informational pieces on there, and made things much easier to find which is always important on a website,” said Liz Mayer, Class of 2002 and Executive Director of the New Trier Educational Foundation.

The new site allows alumni to log in, look up peers across the country, post job opportunities, and keep track of what other peers are doing using a function called Class Notes.

Before the Alumni Database project, Mayer said the Foundation would lose contact with a substantial amount of alumni. There was no formal structure to keep contact with a graduating class, and it wouldn’t be long before many alumni changed their email addresses.

“It used to be a piece of paper that people would put an email on and then change their email like five years later,” said Meredith Falk, Class of 2015 and member of the Young Alumni Leadership Council.

Not only did the NTEF have trouble contacting alumni, but so did current students. Many students who wanted to expand their networks and meet alumni for future opportunities had trouble accessing contact information.

“The only way I could know who an alumni was by going to the Post-High School Counseling Office, logging onto their computer, and physically doing it there,” said Bill Yen, Class of 2019 and member of the YALC. ”There was no way to access it from home.”

Though the project is still a work in progress, distinct benefits are starting to be seen. The new website allows more outreach and better organization for many events and reunions.

“Now we have a more efficient way of reaching our audience. We’re able to broaden the number of people we’re talking to and really have a way for them to communicate with us and put us on the radar,” said Yen.

Now the NTEF can be much more precise and communicate on a micro-level, instead of communicating to everyone to try to reach a certain demographic.

“For the Day of Service that’s coming up in April, when we’re looking for alumni in a particular region, say Miami, I can go into my database, draw a little circle around Miami, and it’ll give me all the alumni in that area, because people have populated their information correctly,” said Mayer.

Quantitatively, the database is already boasting success. Alumni are joining and using Class Notes to revitalize old relationships and opportunities as well as reading more emails from the NTEF.

“In our first week, I believe we had a little over 200 [alumni] register,” said Mayer. “Every time we do an email push or push out onto social media we’re seeing some people come in.”

To market themselves, the NTEF and YALC have been working directly with the Communications Department to spread word of the new website, events, and initiatives through social media. The NTEF have accounts on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

“They have very specific logos, they have different posts pre-created and they’ve modified, this one goes on Twitter, this one goes on Facebook, this one goes on LinkedIn to fit with each platform,” said Falk.

Although the year-long project has now been released, the work behind the initiative is not over. The new tools the NTEF and YALC have adopted will make the contacting process more efficient, but will not completely automate it. For example, administrators can target emails depending on when students graduate from 4-year colleges.

“So we can do an email blast at an appropriate time then to just that class to remind them to update so it’s definitely a continual process,” said Mayer.

Despite COVID, the NTEF and the YALC are finding success in their events, with support from the district and departments of the school. Most recently, the Foundation completed Sophie’s Greenhouse on the Winnetka campus and are planning the Day of Service event in April where alumni across the country work on service projects in their communities, show leadership, and win prizes.

“With the Day of Service that’s coming up, everything for registration is there. If you want to sign up to be a captain, that’s where it is. If you want to get a t-shirt that’s where it is, so without the website we wouldn’t be able to do this at all,” said Falk.