(A letter to community members from BPN's founder Ginger Ogle)
Dear Preschool and Daycare subscribers,
When I started Berkeley Parents Network 22 years ago, I was a grad student at UC Berkeley in the engineering department, with two little kids and a morning job as a payroll clerk. I didn't have time to go to PTA meetings or hang out with other moms, so I decided to start an email list for the other 14 parents in my department as a way for us to network with each other when we had a minute to send an email. We discussed things that other parents talked about face-to-face: where can I find a babysitter? which summer camp? how to get my kid to sleep?
Back then, in 1993, not many parents had email outside the engineering department. But as more and more people got email, they heard about us, and our list got bigger, just by word of mouth. To store all the parenting advice we were accumulating, I created one of the first websites at UC Berkeley and called it parents.berkeley.edu. At the time, BPN was still just for UC Berkeley parents. Today, the list has grown to 34,000 subscribers from all over the Bay Area, and the website now has 7,000 pages of reviews and advice, gets tens of thousands of visits every day, and ranks highly in search engine results. BPN has become a very important resource for our entire community, the place people look to for trusted reviews of local businesses, especially for childcare. Many of you have told us that BPN is your #1 source that new families find out about your program.
BPN is basically the hobby project of one person - me - with volunteer parents helping to moderate the newsletters.
I'm approaching retirement age now, so it's time to think about how we can keep BPN going after I step down. We need to upgrade the technology so someone else can run BPN without needing my engineering skills. We need to be able to pay a director to manage BPN so it doesn't depend on parents who have spare time. We need to be a non-profit, independent of UC Berkeley, and pay for our own web hosting and technical support. For all these things, we need money!
In the last 6 months we have raised $13,000 in contributions from BPN subscribers, mostly small donations of $15 and $20 each. We are using this money to pay a professional to create a new website. Phase 1 of our beautiful new website came online last week. It includes the Childcare newsletter and 500+ pages of daycare and preschool reviews. https://www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org Parents can now find childcare and preschools much more easily, and they can post reviews directly to a preschool or daycare page. So far, 800 parents have signed up, just in the past week. In coming months, all the other BPN newsletters will be moved to the new site too.
We need your help! We are asking schools, childcare, and other local businesses that provide services for families, to pay a yearly fee in exchange for being able to subscribe to BPN and tell parents about their programs. We have tried to be fair about how much to charge, and we have scaled fees according to size. These "Community Subscriptions" will pay for BPN's ongoing technical support and for someone to manage BPN, so that we can continue into the future as a not-for-profit community resource, free of advertising. If BPN has ever helped you, please help BPN now! Go to the new website, and click "subscribe" in the upper right corner. https://www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org/ Here is a page that answers a lot of the questions daycares and preschools have been asking us: https://www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org/faq And I am happy to answer any other questions, just email me.
Thank you very much to those of you who have already subscribed. It is very gratifying to see the support we are getting for the new BPN.
Ginger Ogle, BPN Founder and Executive Director