Campaign for College Opportunity



Consortium Lead Applicant


FAFSA and program simplification


June – December 2016

Yes-7 / No-0 / Maybe-1 / 3 abstentions (Cooper, Halaska, Saenz) / 1 absent

Grantee/Project Background:

An alliance of civil rights, business, and education leaders formed in 2003, the Campaign for College Opportunity (Campaign) seeks to ensure that all Californians have an equal opportunity to attend and succeed in college in order to build a vibrant workforce, economy, and democracy.  For this project, the Campaign formed a consortium with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and Southern California College Access Network, partners chosen for their expertise and experience in informing and providing business and student leaders with the tools to advocate for increased college access and student success.  The Campaign and its partners will significantly expand their advocacy efforts on the need to streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and consolidate federal financial aid programs through media and communications, coalition-building, and policymaker education and outreach.  The consortium will target new stakeholders at the federal level, including California members of Congress and their staff, and engage a statewide coalition of leaders from diverse sectors—particularly in business, civil rights and education—as well as student voices, such as student leaders from the Campaign’s Completion Corps and Southern California College Access Network’s Level Up program.  Advocacy will focus on California, the United States’ single largest economic engine and the eighth largest economic power in the world based on GDP.

Advocacy Activities:

Media and communications


  • Prepare and submit op-eds for statewide and national newspapers
  • Publish a blog post on website and disseminate in newsletter
  • Garner at least 10 articles related to the need for FAFSA simplification and/or the issues surrounding federal financial aid policies
  • Develop a social media toolkit to share with partners
  • Engage followers in a compelling social media campaign via Facebook and Twitter


Coalition-building with business leaders and practitioners


Business leaders

  • Educate business stakeholders about federal financial aid policy issues by featuring these topics in L.A. Chamber of Commerce publications, including weekly e-newsletter and quarterly printed newsletter
  • Author/co-author opinion pieces for publication in Chamber vehicles including CEO Gary Toebben’s Business Perspective blog and other print and online media outlets
  • Educate stakeholders by hosting an Education and Workforce Development Council meeting on the topic
  • Include federal financial aid policy priorities as part of Chamber-sponsored advocacy events including annual Washington, DC and Sacramento trips that include briefings in preparation for meetings with policymakers and staff
  • Invite expert speakers to participate in calls with the Regional Economic Association Leaders (REAL) of California Coalition’s Education and Workforce Development Committee
  • Develop an issue-specific brief on why business leaders should engage on financial aid policy for consideration for the REAL Coalition’s endorsement
  • Recommend expert speakers to participate in the REAL Coalition’s CEO’s quarterly meetings
  • Develop a targeted list of California congressional leaders and facilitating meetings for REAL Coalition member to advocate on federal financial aid issues
  • Identify REAL Coalition members who can lead advocacy delegations to Washington, DC and providing them with expertise and technical assistance to develop financial aid-related advocacy priorities


Policymaker education and outreach


  • Identify issue champions to engage and work with to support FAFSA simplification and related policy reforms to increase college access and success
  • Schedule one-on-one meetings with California and federal policymakers, legislative staff, administration officials and senior consortium staff
  • Conduct an educational briefing on the need for FAFSA reform in Washington, DC for congressional members and staff
  • Co-host a briefing with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and the California Civil Rights Coalition
  • Engage student ambassadors from the Campaigns’ Completion Corps and Southern California College Access Network’s Level Up program to conduct an Education Day with congressional members from California to share their stories and press for FAFSA and federal financial aid policy reforms
  • Work with student leaders to lead social media campaigns in support of improved federal financial aid policies and work with them to share their stories with state and national media outlets


June 2016

Launch social media campaign


June/July 2016

L.A. Chamber Access Sacramento advocacy trip


July/August 2016

Capitol Hill briefing

Sacramento briefing

Student ambassadors meet with Members of Congress


September/October 2016

Briefing with MALDEF and California Civil Rights Coalition


Summer 2016

Development of issue brief for R.E.A.L. Coalition consideration

Development of Chamber communication materials/join op-eds

July/August 2016

Publish blog post on FAFSA simplification and policy reforms


August/September 2016

L.A. Chamber Education & Workforce Development Council


September/October 2016

Op-ed is placed in prominent media outlet

Briefing with MALDEF and California Civil Rights Coalition

R.E.A.L. Coalition monthly call featuring discussion on federal financial aid policy


June – December 2016

Statewide California policymaker education (direct meetings with members of legislature, legislative staffers, government offices)