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UCOP External Relations and Communications wins several prestigious CASE Awards

CASE Circle of Excellence Awards

UCOP’s External Relations and Communications Division received 17 prestigious international and regional awards this year from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for exemplary marketing, communications, video and student-engagement projects. CASE Circle of Excellence Awards, which accept entries from the U.S., Canada and Europe, celebrate creative, resourceful and innovative projects that have a meaningful impact on institutions and communities. For its Best of District VII Awards, UC competed against teams based in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah.

Select each link below to view the entry, full description and judges’ comments.

National and district award-winning projects

Double the Pell Grant Campaign
Gold Circle of Excellence Award & Best of District VII Award
UC, in partnership with the UC Student Association, launched a campaign in February 2021 that asked Congress to double the amount of financial aid that students can receive through the Pell Grant program. UC has brought together students, alumni and other allies with the shared goal of making college more affordable. We organized a congressional briefing, held a webinar with national allies and supported a student-led press conference. These actions prompted more than 10,000 supporters to act — signing a petition to Congress, contacting lawmakers and attending virtual events. This ongoing campaign relies on grassroots advocacy and campus-level engagement, along with tactics that include traditional and social media, paid outreach and community organizing among groups that fight for college access and affordability.

UC Advocacy Network (UCAN) Webinar: An Election Like No Other
Gold Circle of Excellence Award & Best of District VII Award
In 2020, UC launched a systemwide, nonpartisan get-out-the-vote campaign. Two weeks before the California voter registration deadline, the UC Advocacy Network (UCAN) — a digital community of more than 50,000 advocates who advance UC’s state and federal priorities — hosted a webinar featuring then UC Irvine – now UCLA – election law expert Rick Hansen, then-Chief Deputy Secretary of State James Schwab, and moderator Jen Tolentino, deputy director for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office. They covered the historic nature of holding an election during a pandemic and how public officials were addressing questions about confidence in the electoral process. The event was viewed nearly 800 times; 99% of participants rated it favorably and reported that they gained greater clarity on how to safely exercise their right to vote. An additional 150 attendees joined UCAN, agreeing to advocate on UC’s behalf.

UC Open Enrollment
Silver Circle of Excellence Award & Best of District VII Award
UC’s annual Open Enrollment communications campaign helps audiences make informed benefits choices and demonstrates UC’s commitment to its workforce. Over the years, information overload has frustrated audiences and obscured key information and messages. In 2020, we embarked on a multi-year strategy to reset our communications, including a redesign of our website and print materials. Colorful, easy-to-digest brochures highlighting changes, choices and costs replaced text-heavy 16-20-page booklets, with supporting information and notices in separate booklets. The website was redesigned to be fully responsive, accessible and engaging, with simplified navigation. Despite a shortened enrollment period, the website’s audience grew significantly. Benefits professionals reported widespread approval and appreciation for the new approach.

UCAN Student Ambassador Program
Silver Circle of Excellence Award & Best of District VII Award
Although students are UC’s most persuasive advocates, many are unaware of how to speak out and share their stories with lawmakers. To help, UC’s governmental relations teams created a student advocacy program within its grassroots digital advocacy efforts that empowers a diverse coalition of UC students to use their voices to influence higher education policies. Ambassadors learn about the legislative process, including how grassroots advocacy campaigns are developed, and are given opportunities to speak directly with lawmakers and their staff. In 2021, UCAN student ambassadors’ advocacy helped the university receive its highest level of state funding ever and supported the introduction of a federal bill to double the amount of federal financial aid low-income students can receive through the Pell Grant program.

Video: “Ready for the next big disaster?
Silver Circle of Excellence Award & Best of District VII Award
The COVID-19 pandemic had us thinking about how we prepare for emergencies along with the scientists and researchers who plan for and mitigate future disasters. Using the example of a large asteroid, this video and its companion article explore how scientists anticipate terrible events and why having a plan beforehand is crucial. This video shows how it is essential to invest in disaster-planning research, and how scientists must navigate diplomacy and politics to bring their visions to fruition.

COVID Timeline
Bronze Circle of Excellence Award & Best of District VII Award
This interactive timeline takes users on a journey through the pandemic, showing how UC mobilized its world-class health care and research enterprise to fight the virus. The microsite offers a visually and narratively compelling story that focuses on UC’s most impactful contributions to the global pandemic response. It also looks ahead, to show the work underway to protect the world from COVID – and other viruses we don’t even know about yet. The project involved significant research and collaboration with subject matter experts, curating of images and quotes, compelling copywriting and innovative digital design. The result is an evergreen piece of content that has served as a pillar of our research storytelling and an artifact of this historic time.

“The COVID vaccine developed super quickly. Here’s why it’s still safe.”
Bronze Circle of Excellence Award & Best of District VII Award
Recognizing the public need for timely, fact-based information during the vaccine rollout, we partnered with a UC expert to create a video and companion article that explained in a playful, dynamic and engaging way how mRNA vaccines work, including how humans and viruses developed and traditional vaccine technology. The video succeeded in amplifying the COVID-19 messaging of UC’s 10 campuses and medical centers, demonstrated UC’s commitment to public health to California leaders and built a sense of urgency among the UC community about the importance of the vaccine.”

Additional District VII award-winning projects

Participating UCOP teams
Congratulations to members of the following UC teams who contributed to these projects:

  • Constituent Engagement
  • Executive Communications & Engagement
  • Federal Governmental Relations
  • Internal Communications
  • Information Technology Services
  • Marketing Communications
  • State Governmental Relations
  • Strategic Communications & Media Relations

For questions, contact Meredith Turner.

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