In 2011, the Mayor’s Office to the City of Fall River put forward a municipal budget, which if passed by the City Council, would have cut public school funding below net services funding. Net services funding is mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Education. It was the need for high level business community advocates to stand up for mandated funding of net level services at the local public schools that served as the catalyst to reinstate the Chamber’s Education Committee. The Chamber and its membership won that battle in 2011 to net services fund the Fall River public schools, but it was clear that the fight would come up again the following year unless something was done to positively influence the community dialog about supporting local education. Since 2011, the Education Committee has been actively advocating and supporting core issues impacting local education such as net level funding of services at the Fall River, Somerset, Swansea and Westport public schools. Through the education Committee there has also been the introduction and funding by local businesses and foundations of Teach for America teachers into the Fall River school system. Another initiative of the Education Committee has been the sustained publication of monthly editorials that are printed in The Herald News and the Bristol County Business News monthly newspaper. They are also heard on WSAR1480AM. These early efforts shaped and set the foundation for the development of a sustained campaign aimed at changing the way the region viewed educational attainment.
Fighting for net services funding that is mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Education led to the development and production of a multi-year marketing campaign aimed at raising awareness about the value of educational attainment throughout southeastern Massachusetts. The campaign was initially fashioned from the feedback of research gathered by three marketing research survey projects commissioned by the Chamber’s Education Committee.
With the data in hand, a marketing sub-committee comprised of UMass and BCC administrators, faculty, students and businesses leaders developed a brand and marketing strategy which is entitled, “EdUp and Aspire.” The official launch of EdUp was on Wednesday, September 18, 2013.
The EdUp community partnership has now shifted into the implementation stage. On Wednesday, September 18, 2013, the Education Committee unveiled the EdUp campaign during a special edition of the Chamber’s “Voice of Business” radio program on WSAR1480AM. The “EdUp” brand has since been expanded with the establishment of an all-area College Day, a parents group, a monthly television show and the launch of this website.