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UA Volunteers Help Second Graders Dream Big


For Immediate Release
Friday, Feb. 12, 2010

University of Alaska alumni and other volunteers will spread out
across the state later this month to read a colorful picture book to
children about dreaming big. The annual “I Know I Can” outreach
program, a partnership between the University of Alaska’s College
Savings Plan and the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education,
will reach an estimated 800 second graders in 18 different schools.

“I Know I Can” is a book that features animal characters who prompt
children to start thinking about career choices and preparation now.
This year’s reading of “I Know I Can” takes place throughout the state
from Feb. 17-26, 2010.

The book follows a class of animal characters thinking about what they
want to be when they grow up. A little mouse character wearing a cap
and gown hides on each page, thinking "I Know I Can," as a story
unfolds inside a school room. Mrs. Walker, the teacher, explains to
the children that they should start thinking about what they want to
do when they grow up even now, while they’re still very young. She
encourages the children to talk to their parents about their hopes and

“Tonight, when you go home,” she says, “think about a job you would
like to have when you grow up.”

The animal characters, including Bonwit Beaver, Roxy Rabbit and
Scamper Squirrel, have great conversations that night with their

Linda English, UA College Savings Plan director, said “I Know I Can”
is an initiative to encourage young children to think broadly about
where they want to go in life, and what they want to do.

“Great careers and fulfilling jobs don’t always come easy---it takes
effort,” English said. “Whether it’s a business or technical career,
an artistic endeavor such as music or theater, jobs that require a lot
of math or science—nearly all paths in life take effort and some level
of training or education after high school.”

After hearing volunteers read the story, students draw a picture on a
postcard showing what they want to be when they grow up. The postcard
is mailed back to the students in a future year as a reminder of their
goals. Each student receives a copy of “I Know I Can.”

Participating schools this year include:

Anchorage: Alaska Native Cultural Charter School, Creekside Park,
Muldoon, Willow Crest and Mountain View elementary schools
Fairbanks: Barnette, Denali and North Pole elementary schools
Juneau: Glacier Valley, Gastineau and Mendenhall River elementary schools
Bethel: Ayaprun Elitnaurvik and Mikelnguut Elitnaurvik
Nome: Nome Elementary School; Shishmaref & Unalakleet Schools
Valdez: Herman Hutchens Elementary School
Barrow: Fred Ipalook Elementary School

The UA College Savings Plan fully funds the project, with operational
support from the ACPE. I Know I Can is a non-profit, national
organization based in Ohio.The UA College Savings Plan offers
tax-advantaged savings plans to residents in Alaska and throughout the
United States. Students who use the plan to pay for college can attend
any qualified school, not just a UA campus.

ACPE is the state's higher education agency and promotes, supports and
provides access to higher education through a package of financial aid
and early education awareness services.
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