Issue Communications

Helping More Students Graduate College

With the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


01 / Background

Since 2008, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. Program has turned to GMMB to help it increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds and students of color who start—and finish—education beyond high school. Earning a postsecondary credential is the surest path to the middle class yet the leading indicator of whether someone will graduate from college isn’t intelligence, test scores or “grit,” but instead it’s family’s income. GMMB works with the foundation to advance its vision of a U.S. higher education system that propels social mobility and economic development.

2008 - 2018
Public Relations / Digital / Community Management / Movement Building / Advertising / Content Strategy and Development / Creative Content / Social Strategy / Web Design and Development

02 / Strategy

Increasing the number of students who earn a postsecondary credential requires working with the leaders of postsecondary institutions, state and federal policymakers, advocacy organizations, education technology innovators and the media. GMMB’s integrated communications efforts keep these audiences in mind while helping to raise awareness of who today’s college students are, highlighting promising approaches and interventions, and promoting policies that support student success.


03 / Work

GMMB is a thought partner on strategy and messaging, grows relationships and places stories with influential media, conducts interview and presentation trainings, develops eye-catching creative including videos and infographics, and manages a multi-channel digital presence. Our digital work includes designing the Postsecondary Success website; developing an e-newsletter; managing social media channels; coordinating paid partnerships; and naming, branding and promoting the To A Degree podcast.


04 / Results

GMMB has helped the foundation successfully elevate both the need to ensure higher education better supports today’s college students, and the solutions and policies that increase student success.

We’ve guided national campaigns on fixing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and advocating for students, families, policymakers and institutions to have better information to make key decisions.

We’ve managed and grown the foundation’s Postsecondary Success channels to reach more than 31,000 monthly website visitors, 27,000 Twitter followers, 13,000 e-newsletter subscribers, 3,000 LinkedIn connections and 1,000 listeners of the podcast. On Twitter, GMMB’s development of creative content and organic and targeted paid promotion helped the foundation’s Postsecondary Success director to be recognized by Third Way as the second most followed higher education handle in the country.

And, to reach policymakers, education leaders and influencers, GMMB has secured coverage of the foundation’s Postsecondary Success efforts in leading outlets including The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, National Journal, The New York Times, NPR, PBS Newshour, Politico, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.