This October, Michelle Obama announced the launch of Better Make Room, a public awareness campaign created as part of her Reach Higher initiative, which aims to motivate and inspire students to attend college.
Better Make Room targets students ages 14 through 19 (“Generation Z”) and gives them “room” on the Internet to share their goals and progress toward higher education through their pictures, stories, and videos. The site aims to create an online community where students are inspired to continue their formal educations after they graduate from high school.
How the Site Works
Better Make Room leverages social media to create an online environment in which students can express support for each other and develop a sense of responsibility toward themselves. Students maintain a public presence that helps them stay accountable for reaching their goals — since, as the site notes, “Saying things out loud makes them happen.” While the Internet provides a forum for lauding celebrities and athletes for their achievements, it can also be a place to support students in pursuit of higher education. To that end, Better Make Room gives students their own space to be commended in public for making progress toward — and ultimately achieving — their educational goals.
To get started, individual students create accounts. Then, they can upload pictures, videos, or short statements describing their goals. For inspiration, the site features community members who have posted pictures of themselves with their college acceptance letters, outlined their specific career goals, and described the steps to “reach higher,” as the website — and the First Lady’s larger domestic education agenda — encourages.
Students can also sign up for “Up Next,” a simple text-messaging system that sends periodic reminders, educational resource links, and words of guidance. Users can also customize their accounts so they receive reminders about FAFSA and college registration deadlines, tips for taking the SAT and ACT, and other information that applies to their particular educational objectives.
The Better Make Room campaign is supported by more than 20 organizations that appeal to the Generation Z demographic, including Vine, Mashable, American Eagle Outfitters, Funny or Die, CollegeHumor, and other media, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. It has also enlisted the support of celebrities, including singer Ciara and NBA basketball player LeBron James. Supporters tweet using the #bettermakeroom hashtag to engage and promote the campaign.
Ongoing Education Initiatives from the Executive Branch
The Better Make Room campaign is the latest phase of Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, which was launched in May 2014. According to its website, Reach Higher aims to encourage all students in America “to take charge of their future by completing education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.”
The First Lady launched the program within the context of President Obama’s “North Star” goal — which aims for the U.S. to have the highest number of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.
Better Make Room also comes a few months after the announcement of the Let Girls Learn initiative, which builds on the work by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve the lives of girls and women around the world, in part by increasing their access to education.
Students are already making the most of Better Make Room to express their goals. In the words of one site user, “I will study hard. I will have an amazing work ethic. I will succeed.”
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