Opening the Gates to Funding for Foster Youth Started with Facts, Focus and a Recognition of Target Audiences

2016 MARCOM Award WinnerThe following campaign was recognized by the Capital Region Chapters of the American Marketing Association and the Public Relations Society of America as a 2016 MARCOM Award winner.

As the 2015 Legislative session approached, Corning Place Communications began working with the Fostering Youth Success Alliance, a coalition of 17 youth advocacy organizations, led by the Children’s Aid Society, to outline a strategy focused on securing dedicate funding, resources and support for New York’s college-age foster population through the Albany based budget process.

fysacasestudy1Research done by FYSA showed that only 20 percent of foster youth enrolled in college, and only three percent of them ended up earning a degree, despite the fact that 60 percent of all high school graduates go on to college.

CPC proposed using its well established approach of focused on affirmative, layered, and sustained messaging to elevate FYSA in the eyes of key legislators and budget officials by implementing an thoughtful fact-based digital media campaign and a parallel effort which advanced compelling arguments advanced by notable and respected advocates and targeted influential journalists, broadcasters, and publications.

fysacasestudy2CPC advised FYSA to regularly post on Twitter and incorporate the hash-tag #Fosterfacts. Their effort increased FYSA’s follower tally by 231 percent. They also established a website, and encouraged members of its advocacy coalition to amplify its voice through a coordinated sharing initiative. An early FYSA branded news release containing persuasive state and local demographics outlining the merit of the campaign resulted in a piece published in the Albany Times Union, the Capital Region’s largest publication (Circulation 100,000).The original placement coupled with additional social media sharing brought the total number of impressions for the piece up to 16,860.

FYSA Representatives with Capital Tonight host Liz BenjaminFollowing this, success, CPC set up an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, featuring one of the Alliances’ most notable advocates Judge Judith Kaye, the respected former Chief Judge of the State and a well-known advocate for children. The piece ultimately ran in 56 publications nationwide, including CBS Radio news, and the Buffalo News. Notable broadcast interviews followed, including a feature segment on Time Warner’s Capital Tonight.

Corning Place also arranged and coordinated the preparation and consideration of an opinion piece carrying Judge Kaye’s byline to Long Island’s largest daily publication, Newsday (Circulation 375,000), with the goal of targeting one of the state most significant legislative delegations and populous constituencies.

These and other communications tactics implemented across the state resulted in both awareness and support for the effort as state budget funding decisions were being made.

FYSAPostcardThe campaign and its complimentary government affairs component resulted in the appropriation of $1.5 million to the Fostering Youth Success Alliance Initiative.

At the end of its first year the program brought about partnerships at 68 colleges across New York allowing 305 students to access resources for essential travel, rent and counseling  that bolstered their ability to attend CUNY, SUNY, and other independent colleges and universities in NYS.

Follow up advocacy in 2016 brought an additional $3 million to the initiative, bringing the two year total acquired by Corning Place and FYSA to $4.5 million.