American Council on Education

Galvanizing Support for Affordable Higher Education

The American Council on Education partnered with Social Driver on the #DoublePell digital advocacy campaign to galvanize voters and urge Congress to double the maximum Pell Grant. Working on a tight timeline, our team launched the #DoublePell visual brand and website. The result: More than 5,000 constituents contacted their members of Congress, sending a clear message about strong bipartisan support for higher education. 

Challenge

A Rallying Cry for a Multigenerational Audience

The Pell Grant, a need-based federal financial aid program, helps nearly 7 million students attend and complete college each year. But the grant’s buying power has plummeted in the last 50 years, threatening access to affordable higher education. 

The American Council on Education (ACE) wanted to galvanize voters of all ages and urge Congress to double the maximum Pell Grant. As a membership organization, ACE usually mobilizes higher education leaders around public policy and innovative practices. But with the #DoublePell campaign, they wanted to engage a much broader audience, ranging from Gen Z students to college presidents. 

ACE engaged its longtime creative partner, Social Driver, to launch a “positively alarmist” digital advocacy campaign. #DoublePell needed to issue a clarion call to action, anchored in a compelling visual brand and website.

solution

Lighting a Fire in Advocates of All Ages

On a tight timeline, Social Driver quickly pivoted from client intake to brand development. We crafted a bold, playful brand board that nudged ACE into new creative territory. Our team worked closely with ACE throughout the design journey, reflecting their vision through rapid iteration and developing a full suite of creative assets.

The campaign centerpiece is a highly accessible website that invites visitors to “take action” or “find resources” with buttons placed prominently above the fold. DoublePell.org integrates with VoterVoice to facilitate messaging to members of Congress and amplify the campaign.

As part of the #DoublePell social media toolkit, customized badges incentivize users to contact their members of Congress and spread the word on social media. The website assets, including downloadable briefs, appeal to audiences from high school students to college presidents. The result is a fresh, energetic brand platform that lights a fire in advocates of all ages.

How We Helped

Brand Design
Social Media Creative
Website Design
Website Development

Stack of 4 polaroid style images of individual students of various ages. Stack of 4 polaroid style images of individual students of various ages. Stack of 4 polaroid style images of individual students of various ages.

Giving Pell a Voice

The Pell Voices page introduces visitors to real Pell Grant recipients in their own words. Meeting people from all walks of life humanizes the abstract issue of college funding.

A Unifying Look and Feel

The website needed to have a unifying appeal to reach audiences across the political spectrum. We incorporated patriotic colors and approachable typography to reinforce the site’s bipartisan appeal.

Grid of icons

Telling the Story with Data

Nothing makes the case for #DoublePell more strongly than the numbers. These eye-catching infographics showcase stark data that illustrate why the campaign matters.

Grid of icons

Creating Advocates for the Cause

As part of the #DoublePell social media toolkit, customized badges gamify the experience and incentivize visitors to contact their members of Congress. These badges harness Gen Z and Millennial visitors’ desire for belonging and community by inviting them to publicly identify with a cause they believe in.

The Washington DC team energetically posing for a photo

Results

Sending a Clear Message to Lawmakers

Social Driver launched a new #DoublePell brand and cross-platform creative from the ground up in less than four months. The site immediately generated results: More than 5,000 constituents used the “Take Action” feature to contact their members of Congress. The sheer volume of messages sent a clear message to lawmakers about strong bipartisan support for higher education.

ACE stakeholders were thrilled with the results, which have laid the groundwork for future successful advocacy campaigns. While the campaign’s initial urgency was tied to the Biden administration’s American Families Plan, its messages continue to influence lawmakers considering annual appropriations and other major spending bills.

Visit Live Site

Social Driver was great at project management and communication, and the team worked quickly and effectively. They produced a very nice-looking, action-oriented website, which is getting great usage. We’re very happy with this campaign.”

ACE Client Lead
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