Menu Close

Look Beyond the Labels and See Where You Can Make a Difference

As we get closer to our target date, we are focused on helping those students struggling the hardest to walk the graduation stage. We know the students most likely to drop out are those facing difficulties outside of school that affect their ability to engage in the classroom.

For these students, we often don’t see the whole story. Labels are too easy and can prevent understanding that each of us can do something to help these students cross those barriers and take full advantage of the opportunities school provides.

United Way of Anchorage launched a new media campaign that invites the community to look more closely at students who struggle to graduate high school. Called “Look Past the Labels,” the campaign draws attention to the out-of-school barriers some students face.

The campaign uses common labels – bad kid, lazy, hates school – to prompt viewers to look more closely, beyond the stereotypes, to see the full story of students who want to succeed.


In print advertisements, the student’s story is revealed between the headlines. In the campaign videos, students will come into focus as the headline expands to make way for the full story.

90% Graduation by 2020 is a multi-sector community collaboration that began in 2006 to increase Anchorage’s graduation rate, which had been stubbornly at about 60 percent. The 2018 graduation rate was 80.7 percent, a sizable growth, but we’ve got to push to reach our community goal.

Luckily we live in a city where 64 percent of Anchorage-area residents believe that achieving a 90 percent graduation rate is the role of “the whole community,” not just “students and families” or “the school system.”

90% Graduation by 2020 is a collaboration of community partners, volunteers, and donors who work together to focus on early literacy for pre-school children, and on attendance and school connectedness for primary grades. One example of impact is that 161 students on the verge of dropping out instead earned a diploma.

Anchorage can increase its graduation rate if we target our attention and the right resources on the right student at the right time. I hope you will join us.

Thank you to Spawn Ideas, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Public Media, and First National Bank Alaska for their in-kind donations to make this campaign possible.

Visit our #NoLabels page to see the entire campaign.