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College of Eastern Idaho named as finalist for $1 million prize


IDAHO FALLS – The College of Eastern Idaho has been selected as a finalist by the Lumina Foundation in The Million Dollar Community College Challenge.

The competition aims to support marketing and brand building at community colleges by awarding the first place winner a $1 million prize.

According to the Lumina Foundation, the purpose of this challenge is to, “identify community colleges that can clearly articulate a compelling vision for their brand and detail a strategic use of grant funds with a desire to transform marketing efforts to better support the enrollment and retention of students.”

Hundreds of community colleges submitted videos for round one, where they were asked to film college entrants telling the story of “what makes their college exceptional and unique to their communities.”

One of 10 community colleges selected, CEI will be moving forward to round two, where they will be asked to “create a brief video narrative that communicates what their college promises to adult students.”

“Our college was excited and surprised to win a top-ten finalist spot out of hundreds of college entries,” CEI spokesperson Todd Wightman says.

Not only will the first place winner be awarded a $1 million prize, but the nine runner-ups will receive $100,000 each to provide “technical assistance to develop actionable brand building and marketing strategies”, meaning that CEI has already secured at least a $100,000 prize.

“As a new comprehensive community college funding is limited. This unexpected $100k is a nice chunk of change for CEI,” Wightman says. “The money will help us with our marketing strategies to better inform our community that CEI is their community college and that we offer affordable and flexible educational opportunities for people to improve their lives.”

The other nine finalists include:

  • Madera Community College in Madera, California
  • Community College of Rhode Island in Warwick, Rhode Island
  • Houston Community College in Houston, Texas
  • Great Falls College Montana State University in Great Falls, Montana
  • County College of Morris in Randolph, New Jersey
  • Long Beach City College in Long Beach, California
  • Northwest-Shoals Community College in Muscle Shoals, Alabama
  • Minnesota State College Southeast in Winona, Minnesota
  • Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wisconsin

The Lumina Foundation requires that all finalists use their winnings to prioritize brand development and marketing strategies, “with an emphasis on adult learner enrollment and move with urgency to refine planning and scale implementation efforts.”

The finalists will submit their video narratives on June 10th by 8 p.m., and the winners will be announced in August 2022.

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