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High School Dropout Prevention: Boost Up
Creating a Virtual Community of Support

The U.S. Army and the Ad Council first partnered to develop a high school dropout prevention campaign in 2000.  The campaign's goal has always been to improve high school graduation rates and to promote a broader awareness of the importance of an education. 

A comprehensive relaunch

As the campaign message and strategy have evolved, so too have the website and online tactics.  The mission for Boost is to help create an identity, support, and encouragement for those who might be at risk for dropping out of school.

The original goal in creating the site was that it would become a destination for students to share their ideas, stories, artwork, or other representation of the difficulties they've had to overcome in order to stay in school.  The hope was that these stories would inspire other at-risk teens to stay in school and also encourage peers of at risk teens to give their friends a boost and convince them to make it to graduation. 

Since the beginning, the hope was that the site would become viral, thereby creating a Boost community.  As campaign strategy has shifted to focus more on peer-to-peer discussion and encouragement, the notion of online community has been the driving force behind the latest evolution of BoostUp.org.

The most recent launch of the Boost site is a result of landmark collaboration with the most popular social networking sites, as well as the utilization of mobile communication technology.  All of this in an effort to extend the reach of the campaign and create more opportunities for at risk teens to get the boost they need.

Utilizing MySpace and Facebook  

As in previous years, the Boost campaign follows the lives of 10 at risk teens as they make their way to graduation. BoostUp.org functions as a hub for providing them the boost they need, monitoring this support and the teens' progress, as well as hosting relevant information for teens and parents respectively.

In order for the 10 featured students, and others who are at risk, to get the support they need, the site provides means to 'give a boost' in a variety of ways, including through the social networking sites MySpace and Facebook.

These social networks broaden the Boost community while helping create a more honest engagement with the students it reaches.  While there has previously been a Boost presence on MySpace, it existed more as an ad hoc extension of the campaign. The new Boost site is fully integrated with its Facebook and MySpace pages, both directing users to these spaces as means to 'give a boost' and in turn collecting data from these spaces to be translated into 'boosts' and aggregated on BoostUp.org.

Broadcasting Boost on YouTube

As in years past, the new Boost campaign uses video to allow its featured teens to share their thoughts and report on progress throughout the year. The videos are produced entirely by the teens themselves and are the essence of user-generated content.

In addition to these videos being a cornerstone of the Boost site's content, they allow for a robust Boost presence on YouTube. Functioning in a similar fashion as the social networking pages, the Boost YouTube channel is also integrated with the Boost site. It presents another means to 'give a boost,' organically or from the Boost site, and data in the form of video comments is in turn collected and aggregated on BoostUp.org.

Texting a Boost to your friend

With the addition of text messaging functionality through both the website and a unique text messaging short code, Boost provides yet another way to give at risk teens the support they need. When combined with the added site functionality of emailing a friend (or one of the featured teens), the greatest benefit to these features is that they create a context in which teens and parents can speak directly to teens they know may be at risk of dropping out of school.

The way in which Boost is expanding onto the social networking sites and providing so many varied means of communication is all to the aim of creating as many conversations as possible concerning teens at risk of dropping out of school.  The new Boost site and its expanding network of reach, in total functions as a facilitator, with the goal of enabling teens and parents to join in the conversation, or start one of their one by giving a boost to someone who needs it.

© 2017 The Advertising Council