As COVID-19 forced school closures across the nation, National Heritage Academies (NHA) faced a unique challenge: how to ensure continuity of instruction for the 59,000 students it served in over 80 schools across 9 states? Their need for a partner who could quickly, confidently and cost-effectively print and deliver over 400,000 student workbooks in less than 2 weeks led NHA to XanEdu for their custom publishing needs.
National Heritage Academies (NHA) is one of the largest charter school operators in the United States with a network of more than 80 public charter schools serving more than 59,000 students in nine states across the country: Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana and Wisconsin. NHA offers early childhood, elementary and middle school programs designed to put children on a solid path to success in high school, college and beyond.
As the pandemic began to spread in the U.S., NHA’s curriculum team recognized the likelihood of school closures and began creating an alternative curriculum and student workbooks that would support students and parents in a remote learning environment. In an increasingly digital- first world, print solutions are often overlooked as they lack a “wow” factor. But leaders at NHA embraced print workbooks as a solution for their students during the pandemic.
When our campuses closed due to COVID-19, we were instantaneously thrown into remote learning. From the beginning, we knew that we needed to maintain equity for all of our students while they were learning at home. By making our resources only available online, it would have been a detriment to students without internet access or the appropriate devices. To ensure continued access to learning for all students, we needed print resources,” said Vogel.
“Print resources also were selected as an accessible option for our parents. They don’t have to manage different devices or internet access, helping to put them a little more at ease during an extraordinarily difficult time.”
Leaders at NHA understood what administrators in other charter networks and school districts came to appreciate only after schools closed: remote digital learning presents equity challenges where students may lack the devices and reliable broadband internet access at home to take part in online learning. Print provides a surefire approach to ensuring equity and access to course materials when broadband internet is not universally available.
By understanding their students’ needs, and planning in advance for a print solution, NHA was ready to move when schools closed.
“We partnered with XanEdu because of their demonstrated ability to quickly and accurately fulfill large print orders from districts like Detroit Public Schools Community District. They had a proven track record of utilizing multiple printing facilities to produce and deliver a volume of materials in a timeframe that wasn’t possible for our local partners. We were in crisis mode and needed a partner with a laser-focus on education that could support us through our shift to remote learning,” said Sarah Vogel, Curriculum & Instruction Operations and Assessment Manager at National Heritage Academies.
Like many school districts and charter networks, NHA had existing relationships with local print partnerships that traditionally met individual school limited print needs. For small print projects, local print shops often represent the best approach – and in the face of a pandemic, keeping business as local as possible is a powerful way to aid the local community.
When schools closed, NHA first reviewed their existing, local printing partnerships and quickly determined that this project’s scale – delivering materials to tens of thousands of students in multiple states – required a different kind of partner, one that had large print capacity combined with distribution and mailing expertise. Overall, the partner would need to produce more than 400,000 student workbooks and move over 120,000 individual shipments by mail within two different two-week windows to allow students to continue their studies with minimal interruption. Accordingly, NHA’s leaders’ key considerations in identifying a strong national partner were:
Speed & Capacity: If students are not still on track for the next academic year, near-term adjustments might be needed with supplemental or customized materials
Cost: School closures have highlighted gaps in digital access—from home internet to device availability—and print solutions can provide needed additional support.
By their nature, local print shops tend to be generalists, fulfilling print jobs for the neighboring school while printing documents for other local businesses. However, as anyone that has worked with schools knows, education presents a unique set of challenges and needs that printers without deep K-12 experience may struggle to meet. There are multiple ways to get materials into students’ hands. NHA wanted a partner who understood all the available options to help determine the best method for a school, district or state’s unique situation. NHA selected XanEdu due to its ability to produce a range of quantities—from small to extremely large—of high-quality workbooks quickly for students.
“For many printers, education clients represent a small subset of their business. XanEdu, however, speaks the language of education and was able to use their long history in the sector to recommend options I didn’t even know existed,” said Vogel. We’re now partnering with XanEdu to print all of our learning materials moving forward and are on track to roll out our new curriculum despite all of the disruptions caused by COVID-19.”
XanEdu’s K-12 CustomBook Solutions makes education personalized and affordable by giving districts and states control to create materials tailored to the unique needs of their students, rather than asking students to adapt to a standard, off-the-shelf resource. Working with more than 1,200 education institutions nationally, XanEdu helps learners at all levels of education access high-quality, student-centered, innovative learning resources.