Underserved Pilot Campaign

What is it? The Underserved Pilot Campaign is a part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid’s Communication Outreach Strategy to market federal student aid programs to underserved audiences. It is a social marketing pilot campaign designed to increase the number of minorities applying for federal student aid through awareness, to influence community norms and to provide action-oriented informational messages. The specific goal of the campaign is to change community attitudes about using student financial aid (including loans) to pay for postsecondary education. Who is conducting the pilot? In conjunction with Federal Student Aid, the Motivational, Educational, and Entertainment (MEE) Productions, Inc. headquartered in Philadelphia, PA is conducting the pilot, which targets underrepresented African Americans and Hispanics in two test cities, Charlotte (NC) and Philadelphia (PA). How is the campaign being implemented? The campaign encompasses conducting focus groups with the targeted audiences (high school seniors, their parents/caregivers and influencers-high school counselors and community mentors to determine plans beyond secondary education, the knowledge base and/or awareness about federal student aid, and the most effective methods for communicating this information. The audience research revealed that the best communication methods for these groups include radio ads, print materials and transit ads, as well as the availability for one-on-one assistance in understanding and completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). As such, the campaign embraces community organizations as partners to help raise awareness, and serve as resources for information and assistance for students and parents pursuing the postsecondary process, specifically, completing the FAFSA. Culturally specific radio ads, print materials and transit ads were designed and developed (as well as tested) with the targeted audiences. When did the pilot begin? The pilot began in September 2006, with the campaign officially kicking off in Charlotte, NC and Philadelphia, PA during January 2007. Transit ads were posted in three prominent public transportation stations in Philadelphia on January 22, 2007. Print materials were distributed to community organizations serving as campaign partners in February 2007. Finally, radio ads began airing in Philadelphia on January 22, 2007, and in Charlotte on January 26, 2007. The ads will air in both cities through April 30, 2007.

The radio ads are also airing throughout the state of North Carolina as a result of the College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) partnering with the campaign. Click here to hear any of the six 60-seconds or the one-10 second ads in English, or the two-60 seconds ads in Spanish. Feel free to share the radio ads. If you are interested in becoming a pilot partner or co-branding the radio ads, call toll-free 1-877-MEE-PROD (1-877-633-7763).