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FAO wins award for outstanding communications

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) has been named a Silver award winner in the Public Policy Campaign category for excellence in communications by the 2007 Wilmer Shields Rich Awards Program.

Sponsored by the national Council on Foundations, the awards program recognizes effective communications efforts to increase public awareness of foundations and corporate giving programs.

FAO received the award for its I’m a Child of Appalachia™ campaign, created to support access and success in post-secondary education for the region’s students. As part of the campaign, which began in fall 2005, the Foundation honors outstanding individuals from Appalachian Ohio each year who give back to the region. Past honorees include Mike Brooks, chairman and CEO of Nelsonville-based Rocky Brands, Inc.; Gallipolis native Nancy Zimpher, president of the University of Cincinnati; and Athens’ David Wilhelm, entrepreneur and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Honorees are featured in print, radio, billboard and TV advertising and are the faces of the campaign, offering positive examples for current students in the region.

Another aspect of the initiative is the recently launched I’m a Child of Appalachia™ Network (ICAN!), which invites members to join the Foundation in their effort to improve educational opportunities in Southeast Ohio. The Foundation also held the first I’m a Child of Appalachia™ Essay Contest for regional elementary and middle school students in the fall of 2006 and plans to make the contest an annual event.

In addition, the campaign acts as a gateway to other work being done by the Foundation in the area of education, such as its annual scholarship award programs. Leslie Lilly, FAO’s president and CEO, said the campaign and membership network encourage residents and ex-residents to become aware of the higher education gap in Appalachian Ohio, where the rate of students who pursue education beyond high school is generally 30 percent below the state average.

“Our region’s students possess the potential to do anything they want in life,” Lilly said. “I’m a Child of Appalachia™ is about telling stories that inspire students and encourage others to help us provide the resources our young people need to reach their goals. It’s an honor to be recognized for this work.”

The award will be presented at the 58th Annual Conference of the Council on Foundations in Seattle on Monday, April 30, 2007.

Entries to the awards program included annual or biennial reports, newsletters, special reports, public policy campaigns and Web sites. This year 174 entries were submitted to the awards program.

See past winners of the Wilmer Shields Rich Awards for Excellence in Communication.