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New ads take public school promotion underground

In the city’s schools, more students are graduating, crime is down, and test scores are on the rise — according to brightly colored ads currently posted in subway trains.

The quarter-million-dollar ads are the latest installment in an ongoing public relations campaign by the Fund for Public Schools, the nonprofit fund-raising organization housed at the Department of Education and essential to its recent pursuit of public-private partnerships. The fund has supported initiatives ranging from principal training to library improvements to performance pay for teachers.

The “Keep It Going NYC” campaign is meant to raise awareness about the DOE successes and encourage people to “get involved” with their local schools, whether by volunteering or making a donation, fund director Lara Holliday told me. To kick off the campaign last year, the fund spent $1 million last year to place several ads on radio and television. (Several bloggers took issue with some of the facts in those ads.)

The new ads cost $270,000 and are the first the fund has ever bought in the subways, Holliday told me. They’re up on every subway line now, she said, and soon, they’ll also go up in a few major subway corridors.

Although the fund has for now chosen an advertising strategy that is “quite a bit cheaper” than last year’s, Holliday said the fund isn’t hurting for cash. Despite the poor economy, last month’s Shop For Public Schools week brought in three times as much money as last year, in part because more stores participated, she said. And next month, the fund will hold its first-ever holiday shopping event, at the Lord and Taylor department story in Midtown Manhattan.