Summer Scholars is now Scholars Unlimited.
It’s a short sentence – but it was a long and thoughtful process to change the organization’s name.
It began in 2012, when key staff and the Board of Directors embarked on a strategic planning process. One key goal in the comprehensive strategic plan:
Raise our community profile by developing and implementing a marketing plan.
We enlisted community members with expertise in marketing, PR, and communications to serve on our marketing task force; through a rigorous selection process, the task force selected Launch — a small Denver agency with a big heart – as our marketing partner.
Launch’s first task was market research, starting with an online survey sent to friends of Summer Scholars via our e-newsletter. Survey respondents included donors, educators, volunteers, staff, and representatives from community partners.
When the surveys were tallied, we were especially gratified by responses to the question, “If Summer Scholars were a person, what words would you use to describe that individual?” The number-one response, across all audience segments: Caring. Other top words were dedicated, supportive, compassionate and fun.
But responses to another question were troublesome. When asked “What is the first thing that comes to mind where you hear the term ‘Summer Scholars’?” the top answer was “summer.”
As one member of the task force noted, “You don’t want your friends and supporters to think of a season of the year when they think of you!”
Launch then worked with GutCheck, a local firm that provided pro bono online focus groups. Participants applauded the organization for creating positive learning experiences and for providing warm and nurturing environments. But they tended to limit our programs to summer only – even though Summer Scholars began providing after-school programs in 2000.
Based on this market research, Launch recommended that our organization’s name be changed, and the Board approved this recommendation.
So the Launch team began name exploration, and brought dozens of possibilities to the task force. The task force selected three potential names for further exploration.
We began testing each of the options with friends and supporters – and “Scholars Unlimited” emerged as the favorite because the name clearly conveyed our organization’s purpose and promise while honoring our history.
“Wow! It sounds like it’s higher… it’s newer… it’s MORE!”
Photo by Stuart Alden
Among the comments we heard:
- “I like the choice ‘Scholars Unlimited’ because it still has the word scholars in the name. Secondly, this name denotes potential beyond the classroom. I am in agreement with the name change, because many parents in the community were/are under the impression that programs are offered only in the summer. With the name change, parents will understand more clearly your connection and year-round collaboration with schools.”
- “Yes! ‘Scholars Unlimited’ is perfect! It says what you do – and it conveys so much more. Plus, it keeps scholars in your name, which is a good thing for continuity.”
Teacher in our program
- “Scholars Unlimited is my favorite. It keeps the connection with the current organization (which is successful and has some brand equity). The word ‘unlimited’ is… well, unlimited! And it has a nice feel to it, balancing the strength of the word ‘scholars’ with the feeling of being unlimited.”
- “Good feel and connection to current name. Conveys that we are beyond school constructs. Conveys boundless opportunities.”
Parents were uniformly enthusiastic, saying that the name “Scholars Unlimited” sent positive messages to their children, including:
- Anything is possible.
- The sky is the limit.
- No end of learning.
- You have unlimited potential.
But it was the responses of our students themselves that sealed the deal. We posed a simple question to them: If I told you that you were going to be going to a program just like Summer Scholars, but it’s called Scholars Unlimited, what would you say? Their enthusiastic responses included:
- “Wow! It sounds like it’s higher… it’s newer… it’s MORE!”
- “I sounds like you can learn more about things you’re really interested in.”
- “Unlimited fun!”
And so we embark on a new chapter for our organization, marked by our new name. A name rooted in our commitment to helping students increase their academic achievement, while conveying our belief in the unlimited potential of every child we serve.