In the city of Chicago, a public school's budget is determined by the number of students enrolled. So when our neighborhood high school fell to a class size of 400 - 1,600 below capacity - many of its programs were in jeopardy of losing funding.
That put its students at an even greater disadvantage - especially considering 16% of them are homeless.
We activated Honor Roll on the first day of the 2016-17 school year when we surprised our neighborhood high school's top performing students with a ride to class in luxury sports cars driven by NASCAR racers.
Our goal was to inspire local students to improve their school attendance and performance, and to create a welcome contrast to the negative headlines sweeping across the city.
When our neighborhood high school was losing attendance and funding, we had to do something to help. One of the biggest reasons attendance and performance were down was apathy, which inspired us to show students how making good grades leads to real world results.
The local community was a huge focus. We reached out to nearby businesses for donations to help save the school's arts programs and support our neighborhood's future minds. On top of the benefits to our immediate neighborhood, we also wanted to make a statement that our city won't just sit and watch Chicago's education system fail our kids any longer.
With the help of a local automotive supercar experience marketing team, we shed some light on our local high school's financial struggles and the talented students that attend the school every day. We worked with school administrators to select the most promising, hardest-working sophomore, junior, and senior to give them the ride to the first day of the 2016-17 school year in style.
Each student was surprised outside of their home with a custom Lamborghini or Ferrari and arrived to a cheering crowd on the front lawn of the school. Students were welcomed with food, a DJ, refreshments and plenty of engine revving.
The first year of Honor Roll was just the beginning, and we're already planning ways to expand and benefit more Chicago Public Schools.
The Honor Roll has achieved immediate positive results. Since our activation on the first day of school, 26% of students have made high enough grades to earn a spot on the honor roll. That's 133% more than last school year.
Additionally, the response on social media and in the press was astounding with more than 21 million impressions in one week. Local news coverage ignited a positive conversation around the first day of school in Chicago, offering a pleasant contrast to the negative headlines that had been dominating local news.
Not only did we give the community, teachers, and the kids something to talk about with the event, we also contributed $5,000.00 and raised more than $5,000.00 in merchandise in school supplies, winter coats and other school donations.