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Celebrity Philanthropy News 2  3
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Black Tie International:
Keke Palmer / Celebrity Principal for the Day


Photo by: Stephanie Secrest


Vallejo, CA  –  Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 11:00am - Academic Advisor Jeff Katz was joined by television and big screen star Keke Palmer, who served as Mare Island Technology Academy’s “Celebrity Principal for the Day,” to surprise students at Mare Island Technology Academy who participated in the statewide Mission: Admission Challenge .  Get Schooled, USC, the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC)  was also present to recognize the school’s victory in a state-wide Challenge that encouraged use of role-playing video games (RPG) and social media tools to improve high school juniors’ familiarity with college admissions and financial aid applications. At the event, Keke shared her journey of how she became a successful singer, songwriter and actress, and the importance of education, afterward Keke answered questions in a brief Q&A from students.  Mare Island Technology Academy received a $500 grant in conjunction with its win. In a promise to the students for winning the Mission: Admission Challenge Academic Advisor Jeff Katz had his head shaved by Keke Palmer to symbolize their achievement of the challenge.

“I loved school as a kid, I am innately curious and learning has been so crucial to my success. The value of a good education was instilled in me at a very young age,” said actress and singer Keke Palmer.  “I am so excited to be here today to recognize Mare Island students and staff.”


The Mission: Admission Challenge included 60 California high schools this spring, engaging more than 7,000 juniors across the state. The unique Challenge was funded by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the national First in the World grant, led by the University of Southern California’s (USC) Pullias Center for Higher Education: partners in the project include the Get Schooled Foundation, USC's Game Innovation Lab, and the California Student Aid Commission.   


The Mission: Admission Challenge is part of a three-year study intended to measure the impact that role-playing video games (RPG) and social media tools can have on college and financial aid awareness and applications among low-income students.  During this spring, the first year of the project, the initiative focused primarily on junior college awareness.  Throughout the Challenge, juniors were invited to  engage with a wide range of online activities including playing the Mission: Admission college access game.  More than 70% of juniors in 60 participating schools, representing 27 school districts were active in playing Mission: Admission.  


“We know that students who have played ‘Mission: Admission’ are more knowledgeable about applying for college,” said Professor Zoe Corwin, co-director of the project. “Prior research shows the game has positively affected student’s college-going efficacy and college knowledge. This research project allows us to assess the effects of the game on actual college outcomes.”  Corwin and her team will be tracking the outcomes of the Mission: Admission Challenge over the next three years to determine the overall impact of the game on successful college enrollment.


Lupita Cortez Alcalá, executive director of California Student Aid Commission supports the project's focus on improving access to college using innovative tools. “The Commission offers $2 billion in Cal Grants for low-income and first-generation students to attend California colleges and universities and $116 million in Middle Class Scholarships. She added. “With this financial support, students should be better able to focus on academic achievement.”


About the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the USC Rossier
School of Education

The Pullias Center for Higher Education is one of the world’s leading research centers on higher education, focusing on research, policy and practice to improve the field. Its goal is to improve the productivity and effectiveness in the postsecondary sector through innovation, partnerships, entrepreneurship and quality assurance. It also strives to increase access to college for low-income and underrepresented youth through college-readiness, enhanced technology, and illuminating effective financial aid policies. The mission of the USC Rossier School of Education is to improve learning in urban education locally, nationally and globally. The school supports the most forward-thinking scholars and researchers, whose work is having direct impact on student success in K-12 schools and higher education. USC Rossier is a leader in using cutting-edge technology to scale up its quality programs for maximum impact.

About Get Schooled

Get Schooled was founded five years ago through a partnership with Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Get Schooled's mission is to empower and engage young people and to give them the tools and inspiration to get the education they need to succeed by using a digital platform, gamification and a recipe of ‘sizzle and substance’ to inspire and engage students. To date, Get Schooled has reached more than five million young people attending close to 11,000 middle and high schools throughout the
 United States.


About the California Student Aid Commission

The Commission is the principal state agency responsible for administering financial aid programs for students attending public and private universities, colleges, and vocational schools in California. The Commission’s central mission is to make education beyond high school financially accessible to all Californians. The Commission also provides financial aid policy analysis and leadership, in partnership with California's colleges, universities, financial institutions, and financial aid associations. The California Student Aid Commission consists of 15 appointed members. Eleven of the commissioners are appointed by the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly each appoint two members. The commission members represent students, segments of the State's higher education community, and the general public.


About USC's Game Innovation Lab

The team that developed the Mission: Admission game comes from the University of Southern California’s Game Innovation Lab—a research space and think tank with a mission to stretch the boundaries of how we think about and use games in society. The Game Innovation Lab is led by Tracy Fullerton and is housed within the Interactive Media & Games Division in USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. The lab has a strong history of collaboration with cross-disciplinary experts in many fields, including education and technology. Several games emerging from the Game Innovation Lab have achieved international success, making it a hub for games culture in Los Angeles.



Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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