IT'S HERE: YOUR CHANCE TO STRENGTHEN ACB'S FUTURE by Sara Conrad

The difficult issue of recruiting and maintaining younger membership in ACB has not been unspoken; it was nearly impossible to attend a leadership-related event in Louisville without hearing some mention of these growing pains. ACB Students is ready to assist our great organization to combat such problems with hopes that we can brighten our future. We have an exciting new program that has finally reached its implementing stage: the Adopt A Student program!

ACB Students Adopt A Student Program

Purpose: The American Council of Blind Students has seen the incomparable impact of attendance at national conventions for student membership retention across ACB. This program is designed to connect ACB Students with state and special-interest affiliates to sponsor students to such events with hopes for increased younger membership in ACB as a whole.

How it works: ACBS and other affiliates partner together to share the load and sponsor students to convention.

Responsibilities of the State or Special-Interest Affiliate:

  • Advertise program applications according to timeline described below. Advertising may include contacting college and university disability coordinators, rehab centers, or other clubs/organizations where young people with visual impairments are involved.
  • Facilitate phone interviews and review applications alongside ACBS to choose a winner for the year.
  • Provide for half of the cost for the student to attend national convention, unless otherwise specified by ACBS. The affiliate will not be responsible for more than half of the cost, but if further business sponsorship becomes available, this cost may be lowered. 
  • Communicate with ACBS board members during every part of this timeline.
  • Communicate with the winner about your affiliate's events and local involvement.
  • Send a representative to attend a reception for "adopted students" at convention.
  • Communicate with the student for future involvement and retention in your affiliate.

Responsibilities of ACBS

  • Design the application and any advertisement materials needed.
  • Provide the application and supplementary materials on ACBS web page and manage it.
  • Keep an updated web document with information about the program, including application access.
  • Assist in the reviewing of applications and participate on interview calls.
  • Provide for half of the cost needed for the student to attend convention, unless sponsorship lowers this cost. 
  • Organize all travel and stipend plans for the student.
  • Communicate with the student before, during, and after convention about ACBS and ACB as a whole.
  • Plan and run a reception for "adopted students" at convention.
  • Communicate with affiliates every step of the process.

The Student's Expectations

  • Students will have six nights paid stay with double occupancy (two adopted students per room). 
  • Students will receive funds for food expenses and all flights/travel necessary.

Students are expected to:

  • Attend all ACB Students events and fundraisers at convention
  • Attend all events specified by their state/special-interest affiliate
  • Attend ACB's general session at least twice, sitting at least once with ACBS and at least once with their state/special-interest affiliate
  • Write a brief article for "The Student Advocate" and their other affiliate's newsletter, if affiliate desires, about their convention experience
  • Attend two meetings with their state/special-interest affiliate after convention
  • Subscribe to the ACBS e-mail list and join one committee for the following year

Timeline:

October 1, 2012: Affiliate commitments needed
December 1, 2012: Applications available
February 1, 2013: Applications due and reviewing begins
March 1, 2013: Interviews begin
May 1, 2013: Decisions announced, travel and stipend plans begin
 
This program is one you don't want to miss. While we understand that all affiliates struggle with budgeting, student involvement is something worth the number-crunching. In addition to participating in this program, here are some ideas to boost your student membership.

  1. State affiliates contact local college disability coordinators and vocational rehab counselors to provide information about your affiliate and ACBS.
  1. Invite an ACBS board member to attend your state conventions, leading events and seminars about student life and membership.
  1. If you feed them, they will come.
  1. Advertise involvement within ACBS committees to students you know. Our committees are membership, convention, fundraising, and networking. Contact Minh Ha at firstvicepresident.acbstudents@gmail.com.
  1. If you have students in your affiliates, it's crucial to let ACBS know so we can help them establish student relationships too. It's all about networking and intentional connections.
  1. If your affiliate had a scholarship winner attend the conference in Louisville, keep in contact with them!
  1. Perhaps most importantly, find room in your budget to adopt a student so we can keep younger members hooked within our great organization.

Questions? Contact Sara Conrad at president.acbstudents@gmail.com.