April 24, 2007

"I Know I Can" encourages college and career dreams

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A scampering squirrel, industrious beaver, helpful rabbit and lazy owl will visit some 430 second-graders in Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks Thursday and Friday. They'll tell children via a colorful picture book entitled "I Know I Can" that college is within reach and that they should start planning now.

Alumni volunteers from the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alaska Southeast will read "I Know I Can" aloud and distribute copies to each child.» Six classrooms are participating in the pilot project, which is jointly sponsored by the University of Alaska College Savings Program and the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education.

The book shows a group of animal characters trying to determine what they want to be when they grow up, with guidance from their teacher, Mrs. Walker. A little mouse wearing a cap and gown hides on each page, thinking "I know I can" to himself as the story unfolds. "You should start planning for college now," Mrs. Walker says. "You can begin by coming to school every day and doing all of your work the very best you can."

The story is meant to be taken home and discussed with parents, said Linda English, director of the UA College Savings Plan.

"Second grade is an appropriate time to initiate discussions about life goals, and how college fits in with those ideas and dreams. Research shows that children learn to think of themselves as having college aspirations and related career opportunities by as early as age eight," English said. "Some level of postsecondary training and education is needed for many of the jobs hiring today. With the right encouragement and positive reinforcement, every child should consider that college is within reach."

The alumni volunteers will ask the students to draw a postcard showing what they want to be when they grow up.» When the participating children complete elementary school, the postcard will be mailed back to them to remind them of their goals.

Volunteers will visit Willow Crest and Mountain View Schools in Anchorage, Barnette Magnet and Denali Schools in Fairbanks, and Mendenhall River and Auke Bay Schools in Juneau.» The program may be expanded to more schools and communities in future years, English said.» The UA College Savings Plan is contributing $6,500 toward the pilot project. I Know I Can is a non-profit organization based in Ohio.

The UA College Savings Plan offers tax-advantaged savings plans to residents in Alaska and throughout the United States. Students who use the plan to pay for college can attend any qualified school, not just UA.» The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education administers several student loan programs for higher education.

The university's participation in "I Know I Can" is part of a continuum of early outreach efforts to K-12 students in the state.

"The participation of alumni in this pilot project is very exciting," said English. "As alumni and graduates, they certainly can speak from the heart about the value of their college education."

The schedule of alumni "I Know I Can" visits will be:
Willow Crest - 10:30 a.m. Thursday, April 26
Mountain View - 10 a.m. Friday, April 27»

Barnette Magnet - 9 a.m. Thursday, April 26
Denali - 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 27

Mendenhall River - 9 a.m. Thursday, April 26
Auke Bay - 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 27


For more information, call Linda English, UA College Savings Plan program
director, at 907/450-8115.