Gretchen Wilson Speaks Up For Education

Grammy Award-winning artist Gretchen Wilson has joined forces with the Advertising Council and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to launch a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to provide high school dropouts with access to information that will get them started on the road to a GED Diploma.

According to the US Census Bureau, more than 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 do not have a high school diploma. Data shows that students who drop out of high school tend to earn less, perform less well in society, and have a lower quality of life. Many of them must work multiple jobs just to support their family. Moreover, in 2005, 21% of families without a high school diploma were living below the poverty line, compared to 7.1% of those with high school diplomas.

“As a longtime supporter of literacy and education, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation strongly believes that furthering one’s education can improve lives for generations to come,” said Cal Turner, Chairman of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. “The Foundation is enthusiastic about the potential impact of this campaign. Our goal is to inspire potential GED candidates and make it easy for people from all walks of life to access local resources that will help them begin their journey to a brighter future through a GED.”

Created pro bono by DDB Chicago, the campaign includes television, radio, print, outdoor and online ads available in English and Spanish. The PSAs aim to reach men and women in their mid to late 20’s who are high school dropouts. The ads illustrate to these young adults that achieving their GED Diploma gives them access to more possibilities in life — further education, better positions, and more confidence in themselves.

Campaign spokesperson Wilson dropped out of school after the eighth grade and received her GED nearly 20 years later at the age of 34. She has since become an advocate to help spotlight the funding needs of adult education programs and the adults on waiting lists hoping to further their education. She spoke to a Congressional subcommittee in the spring of 2009 about the need for continued funding. She was honored with a 2009 National Coalition for Literacy Leadership Award at a reception at the Library of Congress, which recognizes individuals and/or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to improving literacy and raising awareness of adult literacy in the United States.

“People need the right tools to succeed, and, at the very minimum, a major tool on the road to success is a high school diploma or GED,” said Wilson. “This campaign will go a long way toward educating people on how to take that first step to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their families, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

“We are excited to partner with Gretchen Wilson and Dollar General Literacy Foundation on this engaging and important campaign,” said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of The Advertising Council. “Research has shown that adults without a GED Diploma get the lowest paid and the least stable jobs. One of our missions is to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to achieve their full potential in life. I am confident these PSAs will give them the encouragement and resources to get them started on achieving their GED.”

The campaign directs viewers to a toll free number 877-38-YOURGED and a new website, www.yourged.org, available in English and Spanish. The site provides visitors with free referrals to local GED programs and information on the GED Diploma process. The campaign also has a mobile component. Young adults can text 69222 from their cell phones and receive messages about the three literacy centers closest to them.

“We’re excited about the work we created with the Ad Council and Dollar General Literacy Foundation,” said Rick Carpenter, President & CEO of DDB Chicago. “When you understand some of the reasons for dropping out of high school, it is truly rewarding to let people know they have a second chance and their life can be changed by earning a GED”

Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will be distributed to media outlets nationwide this week and will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.

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