Movement Aims to Foster College-going Culture

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on Monday announced the rollout of a $3 million grass-roots movement and marketing campaign to create a college-going culture throughout Texas, starting with San Antonio and Fort Worth.

Called Generation TX, the movement aims to build support for the idea that every student, regardless of income or background, should pursue education beyond high school. On a practical level, it bales together various college-going programs, giving families one focal point for information about college and work force readiness standards, admissions and financial aid.

"We are not trying to say that every student has to have a four-year degree,” said Judith Loredo, assistant commissioner for P-16 initiatives for the Coordinating Board. Some will choose career training, others community college. But in today’s job market, students need more than a high school diploma, and everyone deserves a solid academic foundation to launch from, Loredo said.

“We just want kids to be successful,” she said. “Every student in this state is needed.”

San Antonio and Fort Worth will serve as pilot markets for the program, which is funded for the first two years with a $3 million federal College Access Challenge Grant. The Coordinating Board must raise more money to expand it statewide, Loredo said.

Much of the seed grant will go to a marketing contract with Milkshake Media in Austin, which created Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong brand. To mobilize people behind the message, Milkshake will work with the state’s regional P-16 councils — groups of business and education leaders helping to raise the bar on academic preparation.

Bartell Zachry, a local construction magnate and chairman of the P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County, said his group had already appointed a splinter task force to promote a college-going culture, and called the Coordinating Board’s timing “serendipitous.”

The council is forming a separate nonprofit entity around the movement so they can keep going after the seed grant expires.

“We needed a group to keep their eye on the ball,” Zachry said. “(Generation TX) gave us a major jump-start.”

The state already has initiatives to boost college enrollment, including a fleet of mobile homes that travel around the state hosting college workshops, an online information depot at Collegeforalltexans.com and an application portal at ApplyTexas.org.

Is Generation TX just adding to the noise?

Zachry and Loredo think not. Generation TX will drill into each community, inspiring school trustees, principals, pastors and police officers to buy into the message and spread it to classrooms and homes.

“It’s not a wristband, a billboard or a brochure. It depends on the community,” Loredo said.

MY SAN ANTONIO

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