Hillel Academy of Tampa is a Jewish day school located in the heart of Carrollwood. Within a 10 mile radius of the campus, there are five major competitor private schools. In order to develop solid recommendations, HCP needed to conduct competitor evaluations, stakeholder interviews, and secondary research on the surrounding market as well as gather data on Tampa’s Jewish community; while Hillel welcomed children and families of all faiths, the Hebrew studies incorporated into the curriculum prompted stronger appeal from Jewish families and mixed-marriages (to supplement the education the non-Jewish parent was unable to provide).
Over a 60 day span, HCP reviewed data on Tampa’s Jewish population, along with secondary studies conducted by various Jewish organizations and educational institutions, focused on the needs of the population. The research team conducted one-on-one interviews with Jewish Family Services, the Jewish Press Group, the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation, and the Tampa-Orlando-Pinellas Jewish Federation Alliance, among others.
A substantial portion of the effort focused on gaining interviews from various representatives within the community—Hillel staff members, parents of current students, parents of past students, parents who opted not to send their child to Hillel, and board members—to understand their respective perceptions of Hillel Academy and how well it was delivering on its mission. Questions were designed based upon the stakeholder’s relationship to the school and tenure of involvement, with the purpose of gauging their experience and understanding their views of the school’s strengths and opportunities for growth.
Throughout the interviews, individuals made reference to various alternative private schools in the area. The sheer volume of competition prompted secret shopping trips to the schools that Hillel leadership indicated as representing the most significant “threat.” During the researcher visits, team members took note of their recruiting process, their admission procedures, stated advantages of attendance, and more. Offsite, the team reviewed their websites, marketing materials, and admission packets for a sense of their positioning.
Based upon collective feedback and secondary market analysis of the Jewish population, the research led the team to develop a series of recommendations focused on ways for the school to reiterate the value of becoming a part of the Hillel family. Results indicated there was great value for the students in terms of the quality of education but also in the tight-knit relationships forged between parents. Recommendations included internal practices in response to the revealed needs and best practices from the competitive information gathered. The final report included tactics for the school to use to enhance its communication and community outreach; these would broaden awareness of the many positive things the school and its students were in the midst of doing but which were unknown outside the walls of the campus.