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America Supports You: NFL, eKnowledge Tackle College Entrance Exams

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2007 – The Montgomery G.I. bill pays servicemembers’ and their dependents’ tuition at institutes of higher learning, but it doesn’t help them gain admission to school.

To give college-bound members of military families a leg-up, eKnowledge Corporation, which supplies interactive test-preparation products for college entrance exams, teamed with a group of NFL players and donated $6.9 million worth of multimedia SAT/ACT preparation materials to servicemembers and their families in 2006. In 2007, the partnership will boost its commitment to $10 million.

“I learned that (some) kids who served on active duty and combat zones were taking the SAT and ACT exams and they weren’t scoring very well,” Charlie Beall, CEO of eKnowledge and a former Marine infantry officer, said in an interview.

“The principal reason is because they were trying to take these college entrance exams without thorough preparation,” he said.

SAT and ACT exam scores often weigh heavily in college admission judgments and can tip the scales toward an applicant’s acceptance or rejection. To prepare for the critical exam, prospective students have several options, Beall said.

“You can pay $30 and try to study from a 3-inch thick manual, which is an extremely difficult thing to do, or you can enroll in a classroom test-preparation program for about $1,000,” he said.

A third option is to take DVD- & CD-based premium test preparation courses like eKnowledge’s, which costs $300, or other similar products with price tags that reach upwards of $600. “Virtually none of these military kids were using premium test preparation products because they couldn’t afford them,” Beall said.

“The vast majority of our military servicemembers serve several years, then transition back into civilian life,” he said. “We demonstrate our value for the sacrifice they make for our country by supporting them in that transition.”

Servicemembers interested in receiving free eKnowledge products can complete an online request form at www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil by following the link to “Donation: VSG/NFL Players.” Requests can also be made by calling eKnowledge at 951-256-4076 or via e-mail at support@eknowledge.com.

When seven NFL players – Mark Anderson, Chicago Bears; Jon Bradley, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Scott Young, Philadelphia Eagles; Garrick Jones, Atlanta Falcons; Corey Williams, Green Bay Packers; Jason Radar, Miami Dolphins; and Ahmaad Galloway, San Diego Chargers –- heard about eKnowledge’s plan to donate study materials, they jumped at the chance to support servicemembers and their families. The players were unavailable for comment because of team commitments during the NFL “draft season.”

After donating 48,000 test preparation CDs & DVDs, eKnowledge and the NFL received about 20,000 notes from satisfied test-takers, thanking the partnership for its contribution. One thank you note was sent from a servicemember stationed in Africa.

“As a military parent residing in Kenya, I truly appreciate the opportunity to obtain these products for my daughter who attends the international school here,” Air Force Maj. Douglas McClain wrote. “This program will guarantee that she has current material to prepare for the SAT and ACT. Thanks from an Air Force Major who is trying to serve his country and also take care of his family.”

Beall said servicemembers and their dependents can receive test prep materials no matter “where they are on the globe” -- from Baghdad’s International Zone to a ship floating in the Pacific Ocean.

“One of the wonderful things about our products is that because they’re multimedia (and) Web-based, we can send a DVD to a military servicemember anywhere in the world,” he said. “It allows the person to study at their own pace on their own time.”

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