The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation (CCF), an independent federal agency that advocates for an increased emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for middle and high school students, today unveiled a new website intended to improve communication with its current and future stakeholders.
The website is one of several measures that the agency is undertaking to meet its board of trustees’ 2014 objectives of refocusing, retooling and reinvigorating programs.
“This theme of refocusing is incorporated into our programs, public outreach and STEM advocacy,” said Hall Northcott, executive director of CCF. “We are improving our external communication on several fronts and our new website plays an integral role in that effort.”
Like many organizations, CCF must communicate simultaneously with each segment of its target audience. For CCF this includes middle and high school students, their parents, teachers and mentors, and the rest of government and the public, according to Northcott.
For 18 years, CCF has presented Christopher Columbus Awards and Columbus Foundation Community Grants to teams of middle school students using STEM to provide community service.
“We have known for a long time that students don’t typically engage in programs like ours without their parents’ support,” said Northcott. “Our marketing consultants helped us realize that we needed to vary our methods in order to reach everyone. The challenge is to engage and capture the imaginations of 11 to 19-year-olds while at the same time address their parents’ natural questions and concerns.”
In the case of students, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are still among the best options, according to recent information published in the Cassandra Report. Seventy-four percent of 14- to 18-year-old respondents said YouTube was their preferred media, followed closely by Facebook, iTunes, Instagram and Twitter, in that order.
At the same time, a recent study by Custora showed that increases in engagement with stakeholders age 40-49, which includes CCF’s targeted parents and teachers, was, over the past four years, highest via email. In fact, email far outpaced any other means, including social media. It is important to note, however, that organic search (Google, Bing) still outperforms email in terms of absolute numbers.
The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation was established by Congress in 1992 as an independent federal government agency. Today it builds upon its traditions with new and innovative mission, programs and initiatives.
To date, participating students have received eight United States patents and one provisional patent. The 2014 Christopher Columbus Awards will be presented as part of a National Finals week in Orlando on June 9-11.