Spring is here and we are gearing up to celebrate the postsecondary commitments of the Class of 2019 and beginning our planning to support the class of 2020! The ACAC team has been busy in March connecting with state coordinators to learn about each state’s plans for growth in 2019 and how best we can support your efforts. If we haven’t already spoken with you, we look forward to our conversation this month! I find myself filled with anticipation and inspiration this spring, thinking about the planning for a new campaign season and the positive conversations we had with each coordinator.
We are thrilled to share we reached our 2018 campaign goals thanks to our collective efforts. As reported by ACAC states on the 2018 annual survey, data indicate that ACAC efforts reached 7,076 high schools supporting nearly 555,000 students submitting more than 752,000 college applications! We know from our conversations with state leadership that these are conservative numbers as not all host sites submit data.
We recently hosted a College Signing Day Twitter chat with Reach Higher and Better Make Room on March 28, where we discussed best practices for planning and organizing a College Signing Day event. If you missed it, you can read a recap of the chat here.
As we look ahead, our annual national convening is just around the corner on May 14 and 15 in Washington, D.C. A special thanks to our convening sponsors, the Hearst Foundation, American Council on Education and our new home, ACT Center for Equity and Learning. We always look forward to this opportunity to share and learn with our peers. If you have not yet registered to attend, please do so no later than Friday, April 12.
We are also preparing to soon share with you the new ACAC website within the Center for Equity in Learning’s website. Soon, we also make available the 2019 campaign resources. Stay tuned and watch your inboxes as these are announced!
State Profile: Illinois
Illinois Celebrates Bicentennial Birthday by Setting Goal to Reach 200 Host Sites
Illinois joined the American College Application Campaign in 2012 with 33 participating high schools. It quickly grew to reach over 100 high schools by 2015 and held steady with a healthy 120-130 participating high schools year to year. Since 2018 marked the state of Illinois’ bicentennial birthday, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) set a goal for 200 high schools to participate in the state’s college application completion campaign, “College Changes Everything Month.” And then the ISAC team got to work.
“Saying the goal out loud, letting everyone know we set a goal to reach 200 host sites, made it more impactful,” said Matt Montez, project coordinator for ISAC and the college application campaign state coordinator. “Our team enjoyed the challenge and it was a fun way to celebrate our state birthday.”
Montez ensured the goal was included in all communication to schools and different networks engaged with ISAC. He was also diligent in utilizing a database available to him for tracking every touchpoint with organizations or schools that have worked with ISAC. Additionally, ISAC has a team of community workers in the field. This team targeted schools already engaged with ISAC programs and resources to host a college application event. If a school was already hosting FAFSA workshops, the team member would point out the ease of adding an application completion event.
Though it was time consuming, going the extra mile to find schools paid off. Illinois exceeded their goal with 230 high schools participating in 2018!
Montez credits their success to having multiple touchpoints and a database that’s kept up to date. Making contact with multiple phone calls, emails and guiding schools along the way ensured their participation. “Being able to track what you’ve done in previous years and restart conversations is the easiest way to get schools reengaged.”
To their surprise, most schools had participated previously but some stopped signing up to be part of the state campaign. Other states experience this same effect. Once a school has embedded a college completion event into their college-going process for students, they don’t always recognize the importance of signing up at the state campaign level and sharing data.
“Having a statewide goal helped schools recognize they are part of a larger movement. Even if they can host the events on their own now with little support from the state campaign, we want to celebrate their success,” said Montez. Now that Illinois has reached 200, it’s their goal to keep the state at or above 200 participating sites.
To learn more about Illinois’ College Changes Everything Month, visit www.collegechangeseverything.org.
Partner Profile: Reach Higher + Better Make Room
Celebrate College Signing Day with Reach Higher on May 1st!
Author: Stephanie Sprow Owens, director of programming, Reach Higher
Mark your calendars! Reach Higher is celebrating College Signing Day and its 5th anniversary on May 1st!
As you may know, May 1st is the deadline by which many high school seniors tell colleges where they plan to attend in the fall. We are thrilled to invite schools, colleges/universities, and communities to join us again to host celebrations for all students who commit to continue their education or join the military after high school. We’ll be celebrating on May 1st, but we encourage you to find a date and time that works for you.
Download our College Signing Day toolkit for helpful information on how to host a College Signing Day event. You can also watch our webinar with step-by-step instructions for planning your event. Make sure to register your event with us at www.bettermakeroom.org/collegesigningday.
Thanks to the support of the College Football Playoff Foundation, we will be awarding microgrants to public school teachers and school counselors who need funding to support their event. To be eligible, you must complete the following steps:
- Register your event on https://www.bettermakeroom.org/collegesigningday/
- Go to www.donorschoose.org/teachers and create a school counselor or teacher account. Account holders must be current educators at a public elementary, middle, or high school.
- Create a project for the materials you need to host your College Signing Day. DonorsChoose.org has a list of approved vendors that you can visit to purchase materials for your College Signing Day event.
- Once your project is screened by DonorsChoose.org, you will be notified with next steps by the DonorsChoose.org team. Be sure to look for this notification from DonorsChoose.org.
- Once DonorsChoose.org approves your project, email [email protected] with the link to your project.
Last year, we had more than 2,250 events in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories. This year, we’d like to challenge all of the ACAC state coordinators to help us reach more sites. Encourage your state application campaign partners and host sites to host an event at their school, college/university, or in their community. After College Signing Day, we’ll take a look at our final number of events and give a shoutout on Reach Higher and Better Make Room’s social media accounts to the top three ACAC states with the most ACAC College Signing Day events registered on our site! Tell your schools and partners to write the name of their school and ACAC in the “Organization/School Name” section of our College Signing Day form in order for it to count.
So, make sure to grab your college shirt or hat (or order one now!) and wear it with pride on Wednesday, May 1st. We want to see people everywhere wear their college shirts on this day to school or work. And don’t forget to tag @ReachHigher and @BetterMakeRoom and use the hashtags #CollegeSigningDay and #BetterMakeRoom!
We hope to see you join the celebration on May 1st!