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413families Community Texting Program Provides Expanded Content to Housebound Parents and Children During COVID-19 Pandemic


Springfield—With the closures of schools and early education centers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 413families texting program and its partners are utilizing its platform to reach families with young children to provide texts with important information, free resources and activities, and gift card giveaways for families.

Recognizing that schools are closed and families are together at home, with many parents serving as teachers for their children, the program provides important, timely information with 2-3 text messages per week, such as free meal sites in Springfield and Holyoke, as well as free educational activities that families can do together at home.

413families also engages with its opt-ins through interactive giveaway texts. For example, a recent text asked families to share a photo of how they are learning at home, for a chance to win a Big Y gift card. To view a gallery of photo submissions, click here. To view a video of the submissions, click here.

The 413families community texting program, which launched in 2016, now has 3,700 local families opted-in, the majority of whom are Springfield residents. In 2018, 413families expanded to Holyoke.

The campaign is a collaboration among seven community organizations: the Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative, convener of the program; Springfield City Library; Springfield Museums; Home City Families/Springfield Public Schools; WGBY Public Television; Baystate New Beginnings; and the Holyoke Early Literacy Initiative (HELI).

Throughout the year, 413families sends 2-3 messages per week that include reading and parenting tips as well as information about events and giveaways, including free tickets to community events, bookstore gift cards, and Pride Stores gift cards.

Those who opt-in to the 413families texting program have the option to receive messages in English or Spanish. To receive messages in English, simply text the keyword 413families to 313131; and to receive messages in Spanish, text the keyword 413familias to 313131. To receive Holyoke-specific messages, text 413familiesH to 313131; and for Holyoke messages in Spanish, 413familiasH to 313131. For more information or to opt-in online, visit

Examples of recent texts include:

(413families) We’re here to help our 413families find important resources during these difficult times. FREE breakfast/lunch grab-n-go meals are available for any student 18 years & under Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. until school resumes. Click here for locations:  

(413families) Show us a fun way your family is learning @home! REPLY with a photo (or text) for a chance to win a Big Y gift card! Ideas: