Center for Economic Progress


Branding a Financial Aid Education Program

The Shoestring Agency had the pleasure of working with the Center for Economic Progress in Chicago to develop a brand for a national financial aid education program that was generously funded by the Citi Foundation. What resulted was a creative name and logo, as well as supporting messaging. Shoestring was also contract to design student guide books and a “Coaches Workbook” for the volunteer trainers.  Financial Aid U was born and began working on its mission to help hard-working, low-income families move from financial uncertainty to financial security when it came to the student financial aid process. Through the process, we didn’t just come up with a clever name and logo – we got to know the organization in and out. We delved into their strategic plans, interview key staff/stakeholders with our own proprietary brand survey process which allowed us to learn about past successes and setbacks. Most importantly, we learned their short- and long-term objectives which were then aided through expert strategic communications. After our branding survey was development and analyzed, we applied key nonprofit brand development principles to create a custom, catchy brand to target students called Financial Aid U with tagline “Smart finances. Successful students.”  The “U” serves a double meaning –  “university” or “you” (with U being used for “you” in the world of text messaging among the young target audience this works very well). The concept of a financial aid “university” appeals to not only those receiving financial aid, but also for the volunteers who will be trained to provide the services. PROGRAM RESULTS Overall, Financial Aid U 2011 was a success. Seven of the 10 FAU programs met or nearly met their required goals. Two of the programs that did not meet their goal actually served the most clients — more than 500 clients each. Students were surveyed on how helpful the services were and responded with the following ratings:
  • 96% felt the financial coaching was very helpful
  • 92% felt the financial aid package they received was very helpful
Ninety-two percent of clients who completed the FAFSA were eligible for Pell Grants and had access to an estimated total of more than $22 million in Pell Grants and state aid. They projected that at least 41 percent of the clients served will enroll in college in 2011-2012, and will be awarded approximately $9.3 million in federal and state aid. Several years later, staff at the Center for Economic Progress reports that they still love the brand and utilize it extensively.  
Some of the Nonprofits We are Proud to Have Served
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