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ACT’s American College Application Campaign Announces 2020 School of Excellence Award Winners

National Campaign Encourages 2021 High School Graduates to Pursue Plans Post-Graduation Despite Uncertainty due to Pandemic

IOWA CITY, Iowa—The American College Application Campaign (ACAC), a national effort to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential, today announces its 2020 ACAC School of Excellence award winners, a group of exemplary schools across the nation that are helping students pursue postsecondary success.

ACAC, which is part of ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, selected the School of Excellence award recipients based on their demonstrated commitment to student success for serving as an exemplary model for their state’s application campaign and timely submission of student application data. This is the second year that ACAC School of Excellence awards have recognized outstanding schools.

“Despite the uncertainty that the pandemic has inflicted on the college-going process, planning for the future does not stop, and the American College Application Campaign is committed to helping remove barriers to the college application process to provide support and clarity for students,” said ACAC Director Lisa King. “It is our goal that all students at ACAC events—especially Black, Native American, Latinx, and first-generation students—have the opportunity to apply to college and explore a path to postsecondary success. I want to thank everyone who played a role in helping the class of 2021 apply to college, especially our School of Excellence recipients who are leading the way in their communities, their states and our nation. We know that this was an especially challenging year for students, and we are especially grateful to our nation’s educators who innovated and found ways to virtually support students as they navigated a complex and sometimes confusing process.”
Each year, ACAC works with coordinators in every state and the District of Columbia to host college application events and reach students in their schools and communities, encouraging them to apply to college.

The winning schools were key contributors in helping ACAC reach the following national achievements, as reported by state campaigns on the 2020 annual survey:

  • more than 5,600 high schools (almost one quarter of high schools in the U.S.) hosted a College Application Campaign event;
  • more than 363,000 seniors submitted at least one college application during events;
  • nearly 628,000 college applications were submitted during 2020 College Application Campaign events; and
  • younger students also learned about the college-going process during events hosted by more than 750 elementary and middle schools or community-based organizations.
The 2020 Schools of Excellence, which include winners from 22 states and the District of Columbia, can be viewed below. The winning schools will receive a plaque and will be celebrated during virtual ceremonies.

Nationally, more than 3.69 million students have been served by ACAC and 5.99 million applications have been submitted since the Campaign began in 2005.

To understand what strategies the winners used this year and to share tips for participating this fall, ACT is hosting the webinar, Being a School of Excellence in Difficult Times, on April 15 at 3 p.m., CT. ACT CEO Janet Godwin will moderate a discussion with three award winners who will share success stories and best practices for ensuring that students know the importance of applying to college and the college-going process.

About the American College Application Campaign

The American College Application Campaign® (ACAC) is a national initiative designed to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families who pursue a postsecondary degree. The purpose is to assist high school seniors as they navigate the college application and admissions process and ensure each participating student submits at least one admissions application.

The Campaign is conducted state by state and each state determines which week or month is officially designated as the College Application Campaign. Events across the country often take place between September-December.

About ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning

ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning focuses on closing gaps in equity, opportunity, and achievement for underserved populations and working learners. Through purposeful investments, employee engagement, and thoughtful advocacy efforts, the Center supports innovative partnerships, actionable research, initiatives, campaigns, and programs to further ACT’s mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success.

2020 ACAC School of Excellence Award Winners

2020 ACAC School of Excellence Award Winners from 22 states and D.C.

Congratulations from ACT CEO Janet Godwin