Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

Helping exceptionally talented students reach their full potential

Synopsis: Seeking to highlight their mission of helping exceptionally talented students reach their full potential, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation engaged Spector & Associates to develop an issue-based media campaign and stakeholder event.

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By framing the story of community college transfers in the much larger context of President Obama’s education agenda, we achieved much higher than anticipated participation at the Partnerships that Promote Success Education conference and more attention from the higher education community nationwide than we could have otherwise.

Through a vigorous media campaign in the education and general press, we stimulated a surge of awareness of the plight of community college students seeking entry to more elite institutions, where, according to the findings from our study, these students have a significantly better shot at succeeding than at large, public universities.

Our work also succeeded in broadening interest for the story beyond educators, positioning it as an issue about the state of our society, focusing on the widening divide between socioeconomic classes and the ever-worsening impact the economy is having on students of disadvantaged backgrounds. By raising the level of discussion, we gave what could have been regarded as “just” another education conference a good deal of relevance to the mainstream public. Through the conference and press coverage, we portrayed the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation as an advocate on behalf of disadvantaged students and an innovator of a bold new way of opening up selective schools to low-income students.

The conference gave us an opportunity to spark a dialogue with the nation’s most selective schools and generate interest on campuses that, one day, may open their doors to hundreds of deserving young adults.

“The interest in community colleges and transfer is unprecedented. I’ve worked in the field for 15 years, and I’ve never had so many colleagues interested in a topic that was considered an educational backwater just a few years ago.” — Steven Handel, Director, The College Board.