Education officials to launch new college campaign

Representatives from SHSU will join with community leaders and state education officials to launch the new College for Texans campaign Friday at 2 p.m. at Mance Park Middle School.There are four major goals of the campaign focusing on secondary education: participation, success, excellence and research.The main goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of higher education while increasing secondary enrollment in Texas by 300,000 students, over the expected 200,000 people, by 2015.”This campaign is a subset of the Closing the Gaps 15-year initiative,” said Dr. Alice White, program director of the College for Texans Campaign. “We want to make sure everyone knows that higher education is possible and affordable.The campaign is being launched between Nov. 12 and Nov. 15, with events being held in various locations through out the state. Frank Parker, associate vice president for Student Services, will be the keynote speaker at the event in Huntsville.Trevor Thorne with SHSU Admissions, and student Erica Susilier will also speak.Four million dollars of the total $5 million state funding is earmarked to research a target audience and launch a mass media campaign to get the message of higher education to the citizens of Texas.”Mainly, we’re targeting first generation students, especially in the Hispanic and African-American communities,” White said. “Although the number of secondary education students in these groups is growing, the percentage in comparison to population growth rate is dropping.”Partnerships are also being formed with various community service and faith-based organizations to implement permanent programs at the community level.”We have dozens of dozens of partners…hundreds statewide, of faith-based organizations, public schools, the United Way, Girl and Boy Scouts and many others,” White said.According to campaign literature, one million Texans are enrolled in higher education, which represents about 5 percent of the state’s total population. This is lower than rates in New York, California, Michigan and Illinois.If current trends continue, the annual household income of Texans will drop an estimated $30 to $40 billion by 2030. This could have disastrous consequences for both Texas families and the state’s economy.”We are offering a $500 mini-grant to any community organization to outreach and to take on the higher education message. Information is available on our Web site,” White said.The marketing part of the effort will include a massive media campaign; the outreach portion will help establish the network of partners to inform and motivate citizens to pursue higher education.Information will also be provided on various forms of funding available to secondary education students.Supporters of the campaign believe that higher education maximizes available life-choices and is attainable and affordable. Through research, advertising and grassroots outreach, they hope to motivate students and those who influence students.

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