The Challenge

In 2016, the State of California created the Strong Workforce Program. This program provides a $248 million annual budget for community colleges to boost the number of skilled workers they produce. As part of the program, the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges (SDICCC) retained Civilian to increase awareness, change perceptions, develop a regional brand, drive enrollment in their Career Education programs (including advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, agriculture and environmental technology, business and entrepreneurship, construction and energy, global trade, health, information technology, and biotech), and recruit a student body that fully reflects the diverse regional population. 

Our Approach

Civilian developed a two-pronged marketing strategy to increase enrollment in the short term while shifting brand perceptions of Career Education at community colleges in the long term. To drive enrollment, we use a highly efficient and continuously optimized media plan that targets likely-to-convert prospective students based on their areas of interest. To complement these enrollment efforts and strengthen brand perceptions, we use earned media to raise awareness and expand the conversation around middle-skills jobs and Career Education in the region. 

The campaign, titled Learn More. Earn More., highlights in-demand, well-paying job sectors specific to the region with images of students learning the trade who reflect the demographics of the community. We conducted research and social listening prior to the launch to collect baseline awareness and perception data. Through public relations and outreach, we promote specific Career Education programs and faculty, feature the success stories of the students and the businesses that have hired them, and showcase the life-changing impact of affordable career education. 

We designed and launched a new regional website that serves as an all-encompassing resource for prospective students and drives traffic to individual college websites. Paid media includes digital media, streaming radio, out-of-home, social media, and direct response marketing. Shared, earned, and owned media programs include the new user-friendly website, media outreach, blog posts, annual impact reporting, byline and op-ed placement, and issues management. 

The Results

Civilian successfully developed a campaign that aligns with the state guidelines for the Strong Workforce Program while also customizing the messaging for San Diego and Imperial Counties. Since the launch of the Learn More. Earn More. campaign and new regional website in 2018, SDICCC has successfully increased the diversity of its student body and increased its student retention rate. 

Student Body Diversity:

  • +41% Filipino students
  • +19% Latinx students
  • +12% African American students


Student Retention Rate:

  • +33% Veterans
  • +12% African American students
  • +6% Filipino students


The campaign has also generated significant earned media coverage, created opportunities for symbiotic partnerships with the business community, and, perhaps most importantly, encouraged students to get more education leading to long-term employment and increased quality of life.


  • Social
  • Branding
  • Media
  • Out-of-Home
  • Broadcast
  • Digital
  • Events
Our Work