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May 14, 2009

College Awareness on the Rise with “KnowHow2GOIllinois”
Illinois Student Assistance Commission assists students in college preparation

CHICAGO—The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is assisting Illinois youth with the skills and knowledge necessary to go to college.  Through its television and internet presence, KnowHow2GOIllinois is reaching an ever-growing number of college prospects where they live.

KnowHow2GO is a national campaign that educates students about the steps they need to take to make their college dreams a reality. It is geared to encourage and prepare low-income and first-generation eighth through 10th graders to prepare for and actively pursue higher education while making smart choices and being goal oriented.

“It is not enough to sit at the edge of campus like a ticket scalper outside the ballpark, offering financial aid to the few that find their way to you,” said ISAC Executive Director Andrew Davis.  “You’ve got to get to these kids early and start the conversation about college, let them know what it takes in terms of coursework, guide them through the school selection process and show them how to pay for it.”
Supported locally by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) in partnership with the Illinois College Access Network (IllinoisCAN) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS), KnowHow2GO was created by Lumina Foundation for Education, the American Council on Education, and the Ad Council.

Since its launch, ISAC has made significant strides to support and promote the KnowHow2GO campaign throughout the state. As a part of the KnowHow2GO ground campaign in Illinois, ISAC is assisting in the development of 10 college access vertical teams.

The Springfield KnowHow2GO Illinois vertical team organized a set of “Take the Tough Classes Challenge,” mini-camps held on Saturdays for middle school students in Springfield.  At camp, eighth-graders are introduced to math, science and foreign languages in a fun and experiential way.  Each camp involves a field trip, hands-on activities with experts in the field, and creative learning activities. Parents, in turn, are invited to an activity presented by students and are encouraged to engage their children in taking the tough classes necessary to become college-bound students. These camps continue to be very well received by students and parents. 

To further promote KnowHow2GO to students and parents, ISAC leveraged a partnership with WCIU (Ch. 26.1) and with its sister stations WWME (Me TV, 26.2) and WMEU (Me Too, 26.3) – three independent stations in the Chicagoland viewing area. WCIU is popular among students in the Chicagoland area, while Me-TV and Me-Too entertain a large audience of caring adults.  

In various ways, these television stations are supporting ISAC’s efforts to engage young viewers in making the connection to college. On television, they have aired the KnowHow2GO public service announcements, localized for Illinois, to challenge young people to take the tough courses and direct them to ISAC’s toll-free CollegeZone Counseling number, 1-800-899-4722, and Web site www.KnowHow2GOIllinois.org.

By adding the KnowHow2GO Illinois logo to the WCIU Web site, the station helped promote KnowHow2GO Illinois and the family of websites on KnowHow2GOIllinois.org as trusted sources of information, messaging students to (1) be a pain; (2) push yourself; (3) find the right fit; and (4) put your hands on some cash.

In addition, WCIU, WWME, and WMEU added to ISAC’s ground efforts in communities across the Chicagoland area by making the KnowHow2GO Illinois campaign a broadcast feature during the “Game of the Week,” a series of high school football and basketball games that showcased teams from Chicago Public Schools. Game broadcasts included engaging commentary about the KnowHow2GO Illinois campaign by game announcers, on-air promotion of the Web site, and KnowHow2GO Illinois signage at each site. Plus, the staff in ISAC’s Division of College Access and Outreach attended each of the games to meet with families at the school, providing important one-on-one interaction.

As a result of the increased television exposure and on-site interaction, KnowHow2GOIllinois.org experienced a 289 percent increase in unique visitors and 141 percent increase in site visits.  As a result of the television partnership, KnowHow2GOIllinois.org had a record 870 visits in December, 2008, including 238 visits December 3, following a commercial aired featuring ISAC Executive Director Andrew Davis.

In addition, the KnowHow2GOIllinois.org has not only increased in momentum and popularity among Illinois students and adults, but also further supported efforts to direct visitors to trusted resources in Illinois.  As of May, 2009, there have been more than 6,400 visits to the site with more than 41 percent of visitors coming back to the site beyond their first visit, indicating  that visitors are receptive to the message and resources available at KnowHow2GOIllinois.org.

By way of its partners, toll free number, Web site and ongoing outreach efforts, KnowHow2GOIllinois strengthens ISAC’s mission to make college both accessible and affordable for Illinois students.

“We are grateful for the support of our partners in this important initiative,” continued Davis.  “Their unwavering support of our mission has helped us positively influence thousands of lives in the State of Illinois though KnowHow2Go, and with their continued support, we look forward to continuing to positively impact the lives of young people in our state.”

The Lumina Foundation for Education (www.luminafoundation.org), an Indianapolis-based, private foundation, strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to and success in education beyond high school. Through grants for research, innovation, communication and evaluation, as well as policy education and leadership development, Lumina Foundation addresses issues that affect access and educational attainment among all students, especially among students from low-income families, first-generation college-goers, minorities and working adults. The Foundation bases its mission on the belief that postsecondary education remains one of the most beneficial investments that individuals can make in themselves and that a society can make in its people.

Founded in 1918, ACE (www.acenet.edu) is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives.

The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public.  Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives.

WCIU and MeTV are owned by Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting.  WCIU (Ch. 26.1) serves 3.5 million households in the third-largest television market in the country, while MeTV (Ch. 26.2) reaches 3.2 million households and MeToo (Ch. 26.3) reaches 2.1 million households in the Chicago Designated Market Area (DMA).

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission provides students of all ages and backgrounds with the resources and support to obtain financial aid for higher education.

A state agency, ISAC has paved the path to post-secondary education with innovative programs for more than 50 years. Last year alone, ISAC continued its mission to make college affordable for Illinois students by issuing over 186,000 grants and scholarships totaling nearly $431 million. 

The Commission provides educational funding with student loans, as a loan guarantor and via numerous public programs such as the successful Monetary Award Program (MAP), the Illinois Veteran Grant and College Illinois!sm the Commission’s groundbreaking 529 prepaid college tuition program. Students and families have free access to a wealth of financial aid and college planning information at ISAC’s family of websites available at www.knowhow2GOIllinois.org.


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