Recognizing the correlation between participation in a preschool program and improved academic performance later on, The Hartford School Readiness Council initiated the Hartford School Readiness Project to increase enrollment levels in light of the fact that less than half of the children in Hartford attend preschool programs. First Experience Communications (FEC), Glastonbury, CT, was contracted to work with The Early Childhood Education Center at Stony Brook to:

  • conduct research and facilitate focus groups and interviews with key audiences (University Parents, Administrative Board members, Staff and Teachers and University community) in order to develop and precisely target key communications themes and messages;
  • create a sustainable integrated marketing, advertising and university relations program to raise awareness of the opportunities in the university community, and long island community, build trust about the quality of care and instruction that children will receive while attending the programs. Tactics included: logo and name development, business stationery, postcards, program catalog, brochures, and staff training.


  • To inform the community of the importance and availability of school readiness opportunities, creating an integrated marketing/communications strategy that will reach the various audiences, e.g., young parents, Stony Brook University community, Long Island, NY community groups, etc., in order to increase the Center’s visibility in a 2013 marketing campaign.
  • To increase enrollment for the school year 2013-2014.

Project Objectives

  • Create an environment of trust between parents and programs.
  • Create visibility and trust among civic, cultural, parent and community groups who would be willing to share information with parents and families.
  • Produce specific promotion and marketing materials, such as brochures, advertising, etc., that promotes and encourages families enrolling their children in the programs.
  • Create a sustainable plan for encouraging families to enroll their children every year.

Challenges and Assumptions

Early childhood programs are often perceived by parents and families as a baby-sitting service with low-paid, non-professional staff. The Early Childhood Education Center at Stony Brook is part of the University. Therefore, many Long Island community  members believed they weren’t eligible to enroll. We now need to reach parents and families who are not connected to the University as well as create a strong benefits package for University members. This is a very difficult task and requires good research and the use of creative methods to reach them.