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Guide for Starting a Shadow an Architect Program at Your Component Convention


    1. Create a planning subcommittee to handle all aspects of planning and execution of the Shadow an Architect program.

    2. Starting as early in the school year as possible, begin conversations with local youth organizations, community colleges, and universities about their participation in the upcoming event. Youth organizations may include:

    a. K-12 public schools

    b. Design and building industry programs (e.g., ACE Mentor Program)

    c. Youth-focused design education programs

    d. Youth-focused civic leadership programs

    3. Also as early as possible, establish links to your convention planning committee so that the program can be fully integrated into the regular routine of convention activities. Key staff areas may include:

    a. CACE Representative / Executive Director

    b. Convention Planning Committee Chair(s)

    c. Continuing education

    d. Exhibitor relations

    e. Fundraising

    f. Registration

    g. Facilities and event planning

    4. About 10 months before the event, set a target number of professionals/mentors and shadows based on the following criteria:

    a. Available professional/mentor participants

    b. Expressed interest by local youth organizations, community colleges, and universities

    c. Financial support

    d. Anticipated attendance at the upcoming convention


    5. Select the activities for the Shadow an Architect program. Standard activities include a design-based ice-breaker and a tour of the Expo floor. Additional activities that can be added (depending on anticipated program support and size) may include:

    a. Introductory session for volunteers and students (highly recommended)

    b. Special exhibitor presentations on the Expo floor


    d. Volunteer/student meal (breakfast, lunch, or mid-morning snack)

    e. Student attendance at a continuing education session with a professional/mentor

    6. Work with your convention planning committee to coordinate scheduling of the Shadow an Architect program with the general session or keynote presentation and other continuing education workshops. Ideally, the Shadow an Architect program would be scheduled as a single time block (with the exception of a possible meal or CEU session with a professional/mentor) before a general session, but this is not required.

    7. The Shadow an Architect program should be set up as a convention event similar to a multi-part workshop series, where all parts are required. Any registrant who signs up for the Shadow an Architect Program will be considered a mentor; and anyone who wants to be a mentor must be registered for the convention. Program planners should work with the convention planning committee and registration staff to set appropriate limits on the number of registrants and the categories of registrants who are eligible to participate (likely limited to AIA members only).

    8. Conditional planning items:

    a. If an introductory session is included, recruit speakers and plan anticipated session content.

    b. If exhibitor presentations are included in the program, contact exhibitor liaison staff to select potential exhibitor(s) and begin conversations with them.

    c. If a meal is included in the program, begin planning discussions with the convention planning committee and events staff about a menu selection and venue.

    d. If fundraising is required or desired for the event, begin conversations with the convention planning committee.

    9. Confirm program date, time, and estimated number of participants with each youth organization, community college, and university. Let the organization contacts know the expected date (shortly after the convention advance registration deadline) when these numbers will be confirmed and the logistical details will be settled.


    10. Near the time when convention registration opens, send notification to potential convention attendees of the opportunity for participation in the Shadow an Architect program through your print and electronic publications as well as partner organizations (e.g., local NOMA chapter); also be sure to communicate directly with the local chapters of groups such as YAF and AIAS. Note the time blocks and registration codes for program sessions, as well as the registration deadline for participation (no later than the advance registration deadline for the convention).

    11. When the volunteer registration period has closed, note the final number of registrants and make revisions as needed to the expected numbers of professional/mentor and student participants.

    a. Notify the contacts at the youth organizations, community colleges, and universities of the final number of youth participants from each group, and set a deadline by which they should provide their list of students. Also request that the organizations provide at least one chaperone for every 10-15 students.

    b. If an exhibitor presentation is included, confirm the exhibitor providing the session and the number of professionals/mentors and students who will attend; also discuss potential takeaways for youth participants.

    c. If a meal is included, provide a revised head count to the convention planning committee, if needed.

    12. When the lists of participants and chaperones have been received from the youth organizations, community colleges and universities, finalize the following arrangements:

    a. Work with convention registration staff to ensure that all participants and chaperones receive badges allowing entrance to the convention sessions and Expo floor, as well as the typical takeaways provided to convention attendees (bag, program, inserts, etc.).

    b. Confirm the schedule and procedures for participants’ arrival and check-in, as well as participants’ pick-up and departure. Ensure that professionals/mentors, students, and chaperones know where to meet and at what time. Some on-site convention volunteers may be needed to help facilitate this process. Send the final draft schedule of events and other preparatory materials to youth organization, community college and university contacts.

    c. Set up a professional/mentor itinerary and a student group itinerary.

    d. Send a confirmation and any pre-information to all professional/mentor registrants.

    13. Do a final check in to make sure that all involved convention staff and volunteers are good to go and that all materials are prepared.

    14. Have a great time!


    15. Track the total number of youth and professional participants in the program every time it is held. Track the names and contact information of all professional participants in the program, so that they can be kept advised of the next year’s program opportunities (and, optionally, additional diversity- or youth-related initiatives). Track the names and contact information for youth organization, community college, and university contacts and provide these to the local AIA chapter for ongoing relationship-building.

    16. If possible, solicit both youth and professional evaluations or reviews of the program, and possibly ask a few participants to write more extended comments on their experience. Use these to both guide the following year’s planning and to publicize highlights following the event.


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