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Ellen Rienzi

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Economy Down, Education Up

I'm sure you're getting sick of hearing about the draining effects of the recession ' the layoffs, the ups and downs of the market'?¦ it's exhausting! But, since we're still in the midst of it, here's an interesting fact that may be a positive result of a messy economy. According to Pew Research, college enrollment has hit an all-time high. In October 2008, about 40% of 18-24 year olds (11.5 million) in the U.S. were enrolled. Driving this upward trend? Two-year college enrollment levels. With unemployment reaching its highest levels in decades, people are turning to these cost-efficient education venues as an alternative to the more expensive 4-year options, and as a way to advance (or change) their now-stalled careers. Traditionally, enrollment in 2-year colleges rise as the economy dwindles, but as more students try to balance some work with their schooling, this trend may continue to grow even after the economy stabilizes. Another condition that is affecting these enrollment levels is the fact that the pool of college-eligible students has expanded. More young adults are finishing high school than ever before. High school dropout rates fell to a record 9.3% in 2008. In fact, by October 2008 almost 85% of all 18-24 year olds had completed high school. So while the country may seem to be in an endless cycle of budget cuts, job losses, and down markets, rest assured we'll come out on the other side a more educated society. Source: http://pewsocialtrends.org/pubs/747/college-enrollment-hits-all-time-high-fueled-by-community-college-surge#prc-jump

The MLB Makes it Count

As an avid sports fan, I'd be remiss to write about anything other than what I'll be watching tonight ' the 80th MLB All-Star game. The MLB has long been a leader when it comes to celebrating their All Stars. For most leagues, All-Star weekend has become hyper-commercialized exhibitions that often celebrate the egos of its stars. But for the 15 million or so MLB fans who usually tune in, this one counts for something. This year the league is truly tapping into the idea of community. Instead of mimicking the NBA's sponsorship-saturated All-Star weekend , the MLB and the game's sponsors are completely focused on charity work and philanthropy. And while this idea of giving back to the community through sports sponsorships is not a new one, the MLB is making sure these activities are relevant to the fans and the city that is hosting this exhibition. By supporting local causes, these brands will rise in favor among those in the communities benefitting from the efforts and the local baseball fans who will take pride in what hosting this event means to St. Louis. Sponsors "are going to help us leave St. Louis in a better way than we found it," said John Brody, senior vice president of corporate sales and marketing at Major League Baseball. "We don't want people to feel like this is just a big corporate event. We believe in this time that we need to answer the call to service." The authenticity of the efforts will be the key to success with these sponsorships. Some of the sponsors will be donating money to local causes, while others are putting on free concerts and donating their time during the festivities. This philanthropic theme is especially important during tough economic times. With 8.8% of the St. Louis workforce currently unemployed, the money going toward the Boys & Girls clubs and area food banks will not only tell a good PR story but make a deep connection with area fans. After last night's home run derby, we already saw over $500,000 donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs by State Farm through its 'gold ball'? promotion. Here are a few other examples of this year's sponsorships: PepsiCo ' Hosting a free Sheryl Crow concert with donations raised for cancer research Anheuser-Busch Foundation ' Donating $180,000 going to help finish a baseball field at Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club in north St. Louis. Bank of America - $5,000 for every hit in the All-Star Game is going to area food banks. This is on top of matching fans' contributions to FeedingAmerica.org Holiday Inn - $37,500 to kids' charities Other sponsors - Help with recycling, greeting and escorting fans at the concert and other events Prince Fielder's performance last night helped a young girl bring home $50,000 for her local Boys & Girls Club to build a teen center. Source: McWilliams, Jeremiah. "All Star Philanthropy." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 10 July 2009. 13 July 2009 . Image Source: David Klutho/Sports Illustrated

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