Earning a post-secondary degree is no longer just a pathway to opportunity for a privileged few. To the contrary, it has become a prerequisite for the retaining and growing of jobs in this region’s transitioning economy. Improving educational attainment levels in Fall River is also critical to the attraction and retention of businesses. A campaign to raise awareness and aspirations about educational attainment is underway by the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce and it many partners.
EdUp Campaign was established in three stages. Phase one began with the reinstatement of the Chamber’s Education Committee. For the past three years the Education Committee has been advocating on core issues such as support for level funding of services at the Fall River, Somerset, Swansea and Westport public schools. There has also been the introduction and funding of Teach for America teachers into the Fall River school system. Another initiative of the Education Committee has been the sustained publication of monthly editorials that are printed in The Herald News and the Business News monthly newspaper. They are also heard on WSAR1480AM. Copies of the editorials are chronicled within the “Workforce” section on the Chamber’s website, www.bristolcountychamber.org.
These early efforts shaped and set the foundation for phase two. Phase two has been the creation of a multi-year marketing campaign that is strategically aimed at raising awareness about the value of educational attainment. The campaign was fashioned from the feedback of research gathered by three marketing research survey projects. A marketing team was then comprised of UMass and BCC administrators, faculty, students and businesses leaders. They produced a brand for the region, which is entitled, “EdUp.” The community partnership has shifted into the third phase, which marks the launch of the “EdUp” campaign. The “EdUp” brand has since been expanded with a social media platform. The EdUp website is designed to be a resource for people seeking information about improving student performance in school, how to acquire college scholarships and provide assistance in applying for college financial aid. The website also serves as a gateway for area families and individuals to connect with local experts. Visit www.edupaspire.org
Launch of a local access television show in partnership with Bristol Community College, FRCTV and the Chamber is another component of the EdUp Campaign. The “Workforce Connection” features interviews and discussions about workforce related issues. It began airing in September, 2013 on local cable access stations across the region. Other actions have included the development of a community stakeholder group of parents that meets regularly. It is through the work of this group that the EdUp Campaign’s first large scale public activity called, “College Day,” was inspired.
College Day focuses the attention of children and their parents on considering going to college from a very young age, which research demonstrates is a powerful tool forgetting children to aspire to college attendance. The first area College Day was held on June 5, 2014. Children spend the day immersed in activities designed to bring dreaming and achieving to college attainment into their sphere.