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‘eKnowledge’ Prepares Servicemembers, Family Members for Academic Rigors

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2007 – A company that makes test-preparation products for students gearing up for college entrance exams is offering free materials to servicemembers and their families, sacrificing a chunk of its bottom line for those on the front lines.

eKnowledge is an online- and CD-ROM-based learning program that teaches test-taking techniques for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, and American College Test, or ACT, among others. The company plans to expand its coverage soon by offering complimentary programs to Junior ROTC members.

Charlie Beall, eKnowledge chief executive officer and a former Marine, served during the Vietnam era as a second lieutenant. He said he has sympathy for servicemembers whose income might be strained by $300 or $400 price tags attached to premium test-prep products.

“A sergeant in the Air Force stationed in Singapore who’s got a couple of teenage kids that are getting ready to go to college can’t afford $400 or $500 apiece for these test-preparation products,” Beall said. “A lot of these folks have children in the JROTC program, so they’re going to have help with tuition because they’re going to go to school on ROTC scholarships.

“But that doesn’t help them financially with their ACT and SAT test preparation, which ultimately is going to have an influence on which schools they can go to,” he added.

SAT and ACT exam scores often weigh heavily in college admission judgments and can tip the scales toward an applicant’s acceptance or rejection. Beall estimates students improve their scores 30 to 40 percent when they prepare with eKnowledge products, compared to those who don’t use a premium-prep program.

A group of National Football League players last year heard through their agency, Victory Sports Group, about eKnowledge’s plan to donate study materials to boost troops’ and their family members’ chances at gaining admission to choice schools.

The seven NFL players -- Mark Anderson of the Chicago Bears, Jon Bradley of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Garrick Jones of the Atlanta Falcons, Corey Williams of the Green Bay Packers, Jason Radar of the Miami Dolphins, Ahmaad Galloway of the San Diego Chargers, and Scott Young of the Philadelphia Eagles -- jumped at the chance to support servicemembers and their families.

With the football players’ help, eKnowledge donated $6.9 million worth of multimedia SAT/ACT preparation materials.

Young said he was inspired to team with eKnowledge because of Jake Johnson, Young’s best friend since high school. As a Marine, Johnson spent four years serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“When people are willing to put their lives on hold to serve and protect the U.S., our freedoms (and) everything we know as a country, it’s the least we can do to help these people in the military come home and get back to a civilian lifestyle, to get back and get that little jumpstart into education,” Young said.

“I think it is owed by the civilian population to help out people who are fighting for us and risking their lives and the families (who) are right there with them,” he said.

eKnowledge and NFL participants have donated more than 48,000 test preparation CDs and DVDs, and received roughly 20,000 thank you notes from satisfied troops. One note was even postmarked from Africa, where a servicemember was stationed.

“As a military parent residing in Kenya,” Air Force Maj. Douglas McClain wrote, “I truly appreciate the opportunity to obtain these products for my daughter who attends the international school here.

“This program will guarantee that she has current material to prepare for the SAT and ACT,” the note said. “Thanks from an Air Force major who is trying to serve his country and also take care of his family.”

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," and Junior ROTC cadets should visit sat.eknowledge.com/JROTC. Requests can also be made by calling eKnowledge at 951-256-4076 or via e-mail at support@eknowledge.com.

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