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Contact:  Kathleen Kincheloe
(804) 786-2323
For Immediate Release

November 16, 2011

Shaka Smart Tells Students “Be the One” to Go to College
~ VCU Basketball Coach Stars in PSA for Virginia’s “I am the One” Campaign ~

RICHMOND — Shaka Smart, the much admired Head Coach of the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams men’s basketball team, delivers an important message to Virginia high school students in a new public service announcement (PSA), telling them, “You are the one who’s going to make your future a success.”

The 30-second television and radio spots, available for download at, were created as part of Virginia’s “I am the One” campaign to motivate students to value and take responsibility for their dream of going to college. In the PSA, Coach Smart tells Virginians that before any of his team members became great basketball players, they had to work hard to become college students. He urges high school students interested in attending college to take every grade seriously and meet with their school counselor.

“When the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia first thought of creating a PSA for its ‘I am the One’ college-going campaign, we immediately thought of Coach Smart and VCU,” said Paula Fisher, SCHEV’s Director for the College Access Challenge Grant Program. “Many students believe that college is a long shot for them. When Coach Smart and the VCU Rams made an historic run to the Final Four of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, they showed these students that their dreams can come true if they are willing to work hard and never give up. Coach Smart and his team embody our message that a strong work ethic can open up endless possibilities. We are excited to partner with him and VCU to promote this empowering message.”

The “I am the One” campaign and Coach Smart’s PSA are sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and funded through the federal College Access Challenge Grant program. Visit for more information about preparing and paying for college.

Additional information about the “I am the One” campaign, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University is available on the attached Fact Sheet. If you have further questions, visit or contact Kathleen Kincheloe, SCHEV’s Assistant Director of Communications at (804) 786-2323 or



Multimedia files of Coach Smart’s public service announcement are available for download at Media outlets are welcome to select broadcast quality HD, SD, Quicktime, or Windows Media Player files for distribution. Radio and print spots are also available.

Virginia’s “I am the One“ campaign is a statewide marketing effort to empower all students to plan for and succeed in education beyond high school. Through the campaign, schools and communities receive free upbeat, high-energy promotional and informational materials to share with students and families to help create a college-going culture in their area. The “I am the One“ campaign is based on input from Virginia high school students and counselors, and its message is designed to resonate with students on two different levels. First, that they deserve and are worthy of the opportunity to continue their education beyond high school. Second, that it is their responsibility to make this dream come true. All of the materials lead students to where they can find helpful resources for planning their futures.

  • Since receiving the federal College Access Challenge Grant in 2008, SCHEV has distributed more than half a million free “I am the One“ educational and promotional items across the Commonwealth to help school counselors and community access providers empower students to take charge of their futures.

  • Demand for “I am the One“ materials, such as student planners, posters, and T-shirts, almost doubled from spring 2011 to fall 2011.

  • During the most recent ordering window in October 2011, 75% of all Virginia school divisions requested and received “I am the One“ materials to help create a college-going culture in their schools.

  • Counselors at participating schools report that the “I am the One“ theme has been incorporated into school events as diverse as advising activities, pep rallies, parent nights, and Homecoming festivities.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is the state agency that makes higher education public policy recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly in such areas as budget planning, enrollment projections, institutional technology needs, and student financial aid. SCHEV administers a variety of educational programs, including the federal College Access Challenge Grant Program (CACGP), that benefit students, faculty, parents, and taxpayers. SCHEV serves as a catalyst to promote greater access, quality, affordability, and accountability throughout the system. SCHEV also helps policymakers, college administrators, and other leaders work cooperatively and constructively to advance educational excellence.

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located on two downtown campuses in Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 216 certificate and degree programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-nine of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University compose the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see