Gratavid helps capture CASA graduation celebration

Learn how CASA used video to share a special day for graduating seniors

Brian Rippee
July 3, 2020 · 5 min read
Gratavid helps capture CASA graduation celebration

The more than 400,000 kids in the foster care system in the United States often face a tough road when it comes to graduating high school. And with the COVID-19 pandemic delaying graduation ceremonies across the country, CASA of Northwest Arkansas wanted to do something unique to honor its nine graduating seniors.

“They are fighting against some pretty tough statistics to graduate high school,” said Colleen Smith, director of development for CASA. “On a normal year, we have a party to celebrate our seniors. With COVID-19 happening, obviously we realized that wasn’t going to happen and our graduates were not going to be able to go to their ceremonies.”

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Its mission is to recruit volunteers to replace the role of a social worker and act as an advocate for kids in the foster care system and ensure their needs are being met. Volunteers go through extensive training and are sworn officers of the court. CASA of Northwest Arkansas advocated for 954 children in the 2019 fiscal year.

In 2020, it had nine seniors earn their GED or graduate high school. But the COVID-19 pandemic robbed the kids — who have already overcome so much — of an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments. The CASA staff, along with the advocates, came up with a solution: A parade-like caravan past the houses of the graduating seniors. The foster parents helped keep it a surprise.

“We took our staff and the advocates that serve these kids, and we made a little map around town, met in a parking lot, decorated our vehicles, and drove from place-to-place,” Smith said.

The celebration was a poignant moment for the organization, celebrating the accomplishments of the kids it serves. Smith wanted a way to document the caravan, to capture the moment and show donors and advocates what their generosity is helping create.

Gratavid provided a seamless way to do just that. Smith shot the video, showing the sounds of the honking horns as the cars rolled by, and even included an impromptu and heartwarming message from one of the advocates.

“I knew how many people, how many of our supports would love to see something like that,” Smith said. “It just connected that donor to the children way more directly than I could have in an E-newsletter or a picture.”

The next step was sending the video to 782 advocates and donors, something that would seem like a meticulous and time-consuming task on the surface. Gratavid eased the burden.

It was a piece of cake, whereas, with a normal video, I would have spent a lot of time pricing that together in iMovie,” Smith said. “My other thing was how do you do it without spanning them, putting it in an email or letter. I think that is one of the bonuses of Gratavid is that it is all in one system. It really does make it so easy for us to send and track.”

The video was a huge success, receiving 372 unique emails opened, 82 unique video plays, 325 video plays total. The donors and advocates were taken aback by the sheer joy of the moment.

“A truly memorable graduation that will be talked about for years,” one donor said. “The circumstances certainly reinforce resiliency; the ability to overcome obstacles and see success!! So proud of each graduate.”

CASA made the most of a difficult situation, allowing the kids the dutifully serve to bask in their well-earned accomplishments. Gratavid helped them document the situation and spread the joy well beyond those present at the caravan.

WRITTEN BY

Brian Rippee

Writer @ Gratavid

Brian Rippee is a writer for Gratavid. Gratavid is a software platform for collecting and sharing personalized videos.

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