The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center is administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS). The mission of the REMS TA Center is to disseminate data-driven resources, tools, and mobile products geared toward students’ safety and to foster supportive learning environments—especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting and Hurricane Sandy. REMS is the premier and only federally funded project that supports the emergency management planning and operations efforts of K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, the OSHS’s grant programs and individual grantees, and their community partners.
Since 2012, Synergy has successfully managed the REMS TA Center. In addition to the above-mentioned entities, the REMS TA Center provides assistance to parents, community groups (e.g., law enforcement and health and mental health agency practitioners), and other stakeholders (e.g., faith-based organizations). Synergy’s subject matter experts, web designers, programmers, usability experts, and communications specialists work in concert with OSHS to release federal guidance, products, and services to its diverse stakeholders.
In addition to technical assistance and website governance, a 24/7 toll-free line and a web portal with web chat features are employed to field calls and provide fulfillment requests. On an annual basis, Synergy’s information specialists support more than 1,900 individual callers and email requestors (parents, counselors, first responders, teachers, and health care providers) by providing them information on topics related to students’ resiliency, adult sexual misconduct, children’s mental health, trauma and bullying, substance abuse, and underage drinking. Materials (digital and hard copy) and products are developed for the general population as well as for subpopulation groups such as students with disabilities; gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) students; homeless and immigrant students; and racial-ethnic minority students.
Our team is well versed at supporting changing customer service needs and challenges. For example, Soon after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, the Synergy team successfully developed two trainings to support the U.S. Department of Education’s work with Connecticut. The successful launch of the contract could have been hindered by issues faced during the transfer of government property from the former contracted service provider. The Synergy team was fully responsive at every step of the transfer under very challenging and sensitive circumstances; for example, without full access to proper materials, the team launched a website in days, which was met with a record number of visitors (more than 16,570) over a 2-week period following the Sandy Hook tragedy. The team also successfully worked to develop trainings, manage registration, secure trainers, provide onsite support, and create numerous support materials, including resources—all delivered on time and with high quality.