"I Know I Can"

Examples of postcards drawn by second graders.

UA volunteers help second graders dream big

University of Alaska alumni and other volunteers are spreading out across the state to read a colorful picture book to children about dreaming big. The annual “I Know I Can” outreach program, a partnership between the University of Alaska’s College Savings Plan and the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, is estimated to reach 800 second graders in 18 different schools this year.

"I Know I Can” is a book that features animal characters who prompt children to start thinking about career choices and preparation now. This year’s reading of “I Know I Can” is taking place throughout the state from Feb. 17-26, 2010.

The book follows a class of animal characters thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. A little mouse character wearing a cap and gown hides on each page, thinking "I Know I Can," as a story unfolds inside a school room. Mrs. Walker, the teacher, explains to the children that they should start thinking about what they want to do when they grow up even now, while they’re still very young. She encourages the children to talk to their parents about their hopes and dreams.

“Tonight, when you go home,” she says, “think about a job you would like to have when you grow up.”

The animal characters, including Bonwit Beaver, Roxy Rabbit and Scamper Squirrel, have great conversations that night with their families.

Linda English, UA College Savings Plan director, said “I Know I Can” is an initiative to encourage  young children to think broadly about where they want to go in life, and what they want to do.

“Great careers and fulfilling jobs don’t always come easy---it takes effort,” English said. “Whether it’s a business or technical career, an artistic endeavor such as music or theater, jobs that require a lot of math or science—nearly all paths in life take effort and some level of training or education after high school.”

After hearing volunteers read the story, students drew a picture on a postcard showing what they want to be when they grow up. The postcard is mailed back to the students in a future year as a reminder of their goals. Each student receives a copy of “I Know I Can.”

Participating schools this year included:

  • Anchorage: Alaska Native Cultural Charter School, Creekside Park,
  • Muldoon, Willow Crest and Mountain View elementary schools
  • Fairbanks: Barnette, Denali and North Pole elementary schools
  • Juneau: Glacier Valley, Gastineau and Mendenhall River elementary schools
  • Bethel: Ayaprun Elitnaurvik and Mikelnguut Elitnaurvik
  • Nome: Nome Elementary School; Shishmaref & Unalakleet Schools
  • Valdez: Herman Hutchens Elementary School
  • Barrow: Fred Ipalook Elementary School

The UA College Savings Plan fully funds the project, with operational support from the ACPE. I Know I Can is a non-profit, national 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 a UA campus.

ACPE is the state's higher education agency and promotes, supports and provides access to higher education through a package of financial aid and early education awareness services.

For more information, call Linda English, UA College Savings Plan Program Director, at (907) 450-8115, or Lora Jorgensen, ACPE, at (907) 269-7591.

Check out http://www.alaska.edu/studentservices/outreach/i_know_i_can/index.xml
for more information, including pictures of postcards drawn by the children.

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