As September is underway, we are preparing to celebrate the 54th annual California Native American Day, which is commemorated on the fourth Friday of September to honor Native American cultures and their contributions to our state. For the first time ever, the California Community Colleges statewide marketing and awareness campaign, “I Can Go To College,” has been funded to conduct advertising and outreach to the state’s tribal and urban Native American communities – an effort that will dovetail with California Native American Day.

In years past, the campaign was funded to raise awareness broadly across the state about the availability of financial aid, guaranteed transfer and career education programs and to encourage current and potential students to seize these valuable opportunities. Recently, additional dollars were allocated by the legislature for FY 2021-22 to raise awareness and encourage enrollment.

The funding was allocated in response to the enrollment decline among Native American students throughout the system, which is the steepest among all racial and ethnic groups. California is home to one of the largest Native American populations in the nation, but even with nearly 1.5 million American Indians in the state and 109 federally recognized tribes, Native Americans only make up about .43% of the entire California Community Colleges’ student body. The goal of the “I Can Go To College” campaign is to help change that by raising awareness fostering student enrollment.

To that end, the campaign has exciting work underway, including new photography for use in advertising and on the ICanGoToCollege.com website that features a diverse array of American Indian students. The paid advertising is being placed strategically on media platforms and locations adjacent to reservations and in areas with high concentrations of Native American communities to ensure reach. 

The campaign has also begun work with an American Indian/Alaska Native owned and operated consulting firm to advise and provide culturally relevant, authentic guidance on all efforts, and to leverage a grassroots approach to engage with tribal communities. With the help of community stakeholders and by using Native specific messaging, imagery, and outreach practices, the campaign working hard to ensure that we are speaking directly to American Indian/Alaska Native students, and that their voices are also heard and represented throughout these efforts.

Currently there are several Native support programs in place throughout the community college system. The “I Can Go To College” campaign efforts are focused on expanding upon the great work our colleges and districts are already doing to reach these underserved communities. To learn more, please contact “I Can Go To College” Project Manager Amanda Joy Davis or Communications Director Paige Marlatt Dorr.