Re: Washington University
-Students can use the hashtag #WashUdebate2016 to generate buzz and gain the attention of debate coordinators/sponsors/potentially the Commission on Presidential Debates.
-They can use this on Instagram and Twitter (example: a student posts an Instagram photo of their piece of the bridge with the caption: "Calling all 2016 POTUS candidates! Stand on our bridge and support our dreams at #WashUdebate2016).
- Start this NOW.
-As a project/homework, assign students to post a certain amount of times per week and have them bring in proof of their social media engagement. Reward the best posts by linking to them on your new Facebook Page as an online class wall of fame.
-Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining the project (briefly), asking if there can be a designated zone easily within eyesight and earshot of the entrance to the Athletics Center for your students to set up the bridge, and emphasizing that this is a 100% peaceful and non-partisan demonstration (as per their University guidelines: https://wustl.edu/about/compliance-policies/governance/demonstrations-disruption/). They will be more likely to want to be helpful if this email comes from a kid (or even better, is signed by all the kids). If you don't get a response within 24 hours, send another email (from a kid). Keep going until they talk to you!
-Send email to Events Management at Wash U containing the same information you send to the debate staff and asking for space availability near the Athletics Center. The director is Leslie Heusted (email@example.com), and the assistant director is Peggy Hermes (firstname.lastname@example.org).
-Send email to admissions at Wash U (email@example.com) to see if they might be able to come and meet your students at the bridge on the day of the event and potentially lead some small group tours (can't take everyone at once, since students need to stay present at the bridge, but could do shifts).
-You might also try reaching out to the Commission on Presidential Debates to explaining the project and asking how they may be able to support us. Tell them your students are raising money and organizing a trip to Wash U on the day of the debate and that they will be setting up their bridge on the campus in the hope of reaching the presidential candidates. I think it's unlikely that they will be receptive, but worth a try. firstname.lastname@example.org
-Let me know if you have kids interested in setting up a lobby display to give people a sense of the bridge project. We have shows running every weekend from now through October, so that would be a great way to get our audience members curious and supportive.
-I'm going to reach out my friend who is a Wash U alum to see if she and her friends can help us generate support on campus for the project. They may contribute through social media engagement as well. Potentially someone has a connection at the campus newspaper and can write an article about what you guys are planning. I don't know what the options are yet.
ON THE DAY:
The event will be held at the University's Athletics Complex at 8pm on the 9th. It probably makes sense for students to get there fairly early (in the morning), find a spot as near to the entrance of the complex as they are allowed, and START INSTAGRAMMING/FACEBOOKING/TWEETING. Post as many photos of the bridge and the kids as possible (will need to get signed permission from parents/guardians of kids under 18 if you are taking any pictures yourself). Share share share. Hopefully other people on social media and at the physical site will start sharing as well, and the event will create a huge amount of buzz on the day.
Stay outside for the entire debate. Sing songs. Make art. (Bring snacks). Invite people to contribute to the bridge. Even if the candidates don't show up, you will have made a profound impact on the debate attendees and community members. Don't leave until it's all over! I would not be surprised at all if you ended up with a fair amount of participation from Wash U college students.
GETTING THE MONEY:
Transportation, lodging, food, and all other fieldtrip expenses should be crowd-funded. Come up with a reasonable budget for the trip (decide how many kids are going first), then create a DonorsChoose. There is actually an option to have the students themselves create a project on DonorsChoose, I believe, and you can explore that if you want. Share the DonorsChoose with everyone you know and encourage students to do the same. I will absolutely make sure 16th Street shares as well.
Let's work together to reach out to potential funders of this project. Unfortunately with only a month to go before the debate, the Berwyn Development Council won't be able to turn-around a grant request for travel expenses (but we can still ask them to fund the website project). At this point in our fiscal year and as tight as we are budget-wise, I don't foresee 16th Street as being able to make a financial contribution, but we can definitely assist by putting an advertisement in our program for the project, spreading the word on our website and through Facebook, and reaching out to business partners to ask them to support you.
16th Street Theater
6420 16th Street, Berwyn, IL 60402