Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) has helped more than 10,000 New York City students develop academic ability, social values and personal resilience needed to ensure success in school, career and life. HEAF serves high-potential, under-resourced public school students in New York City, particularly Harlem, Washington Heights and the Bronx, from 6th through 12th grade. The organization targets middle-performing students who are ineligible for either remediation or gifted programs but have the potential to make significant academic and social gains.
While HEAF boasted a very high rate of success, its program had been under the radar for many years. As the debate about public education continued to be on the minds and tongues of most Americans, HEAF wanted to use this as an opportunity to show that there are viable models that can be applied to help students navigate the challenges they face in attending and completing college.
HEAF sought to increase its visibility in the marketplace to attract new students and partners. Facing obstacles like low name recognition in the population it serves, HEAF wanted to use public relations as a way to cultivate and strengthen relationships with its target communities.
The Wakeman Agency was tasked with formulating a public relations campaign with the goal of creating a platform for the organization’s CEO, Dr. Danielle Moss-Lee, and using human interest stories to highlight the success of the program to show members of the community that it is attainable for their children and families.
As the first part of a two-pronged strategy, the agency created a platform for Moss Lee to provide information about the organization targeted at key audiences. Taking advantage of the organization’s strong commitment to its mission and its niche demographic of African-American and Latino students, the team positioned Dr. Moss Lee as a thought leader in education and navigating the public school system. This included bylined articles and Op-Ed pieces in publications such as Education Update, City Limits and the Huffington Post.
The second component of the campaign’s strategy was to share HEAF’s past successes and future plans via human-interest stories.
- Heightened awareness of the program and its offerings which led to interest from new partners and funding sources
- Strengthened Dr. Moss Lee’s position in the education area to an influencer based on her model of success for HEAF
- Consistent media placements in local and national outlets focused on education