Every independent school marketer’s dream is to get their school on the regional, national or international map as the school for [fill in the blank]. We all want our school to be known for something to boost our brand recognition. We also want our local communities to know what lies behind our gates, bust myths and misperceptions, and promote positive word-of-mouth. So how do you make a name for yourself? You can do the hard word of branding and marketing (and you should), but you can also get creative and think outside the box.
That’s exactly what Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, TN did two years ago with the launch of Mad, Bad, and Dangerous, a conference that promotes entrepreneurship in women and girls and encourages them to “ditch expectations and start something.” It’s the brainchild of Autumn Adkins Graves who arrived as GPS’ new head of school in July 2014, gave birth to a baby boy at Thanksgiving, and welcomed Chattanooga to campus for the first MBD in February 2015. Autumn loves to tell the tale of the three female founders of GPS who were entrepreneurs of their time. Autumn saw this event as a continuation of their work to educate and advance girls and women.
The second conference took place in December 2015 with
- 40 sponsors
- 41 volunteers
- 62 woman-owned businesses and 20 girl-owned ones in the Marketplace
- 11 organizations in the Entrepreneurial Resource Center
- 45 presenters
- 8 workshops
- 24-hour overnight problem-solving event for 11th and 12th grade girls in the region.
All of this is free and open to the public. And if all this isn’t enough, keynote speakers have included the mother-daughter entrepreneurial team of Lily and Renee Sandler as well as Shark Tank celebrity and inventor Lori Grenier.
The response to this event has been overwhelmingly positive with requests to hold it in other cities. Ever entrepreneurial, GPS is in the process of licensing it so that other organizations, particularly those with a female based mission, can launch one in their area.
So listen to InspirED’s podcast with Autumn and hear her explain Mad, Bad and Dangerous’ genesis, structure and resources, growth and impact, and plans for the future. It’s bound to make you want to “ditch expectations and start something” yourself to put your school on the map.
Did your school hold a TedYouth, TedX, or other theme-based conference that centers around your mission? We’d love to hear about that and the impact it has had on your brand.
Photos by Emily Lester Photography