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When Starr Commonwealth said yes to the federal government’s request to quickly open its Albion, Michigan, campus to as many as 240 unaccompanied migrant children crossing the U.S. Southern border, it partnered with Sabo PR to help share the hows and whys it was responding to this humanitarian crisis with its key stakeholders and the media.

With no communications roadmap from the federal government and less than one month before the childrens’ arrival on campus, the Sabo PR team leaned on Starr’s century-plus history of healing trauma and building resilience in kids to establish a plan. We leveraged Starr’s mission and core principles in developing a path that would communicate first with key stakeholders – board members, staff, donors, community partners, etc. – to share Starr’s narrative. This would allow us to counteract potential negative criticism about bringing unaccompanied minors into this rural community and set up the program for success.

We prioritized target audiences and established key messages that could be modified to address the needs of each stakeholder group. We then drafted talking points, call and video scripts, letters, emails, website messaging, social media posts and a press release. As Starr quietly prepared its campus for the arrival of children and hired staff, our communication objectives were simple yet challenging: Connect in advance with all key stakeholders before word got out to the media and secure positive – or at least neutral – sentiment from all stakeholder groups.

Because we had worked in advance, Starr was able to reach all of its 30 initial stakeholders with direct communications that were received favorably, including thousands of dollars in donations in the first days following the announcement.

We knew the media would ask to tour Starr’s campus and meet the children who had arrived. We also knew the federal government was not allowing media interviews. The Sabo PR team spent a day on campus taking photos and recording videos of living spaces and the larger campus as well as sit-down conversations with the CEO and COO to share with the media in lieu of interviews.

Videos and images from the Starr campus were picked up broadly by media. Media reaction was incredibly favorable, with Starr earning print, broadcast and online mentions with a combined reach of 142.5 million. National Public Radio used sound from the interview with the CEO for a piece that was shared by nearly than 80 affiliates around the country.



  • Key messages
  • Board email and talking points
  • Donor call and email communications
  • Community, elected official call script
  • Web content
  • Social media posts
  • Press release
  • Videos

Media reaction was incredibly favorable, with Starr earning print, broadcast and online mentions with a combined reach of 142.5 million.

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