Public television and radio stations across the country are helping local communities find solutions to address the high school dropout crisis through American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
American Graduate demonstrates public media's commitment to education and its deep roots in every community it serves. Beyond providing programming that educates, informs and inspires, public radio and television stations — locally owned and operated — are an important resource in helping to address critical issues, such as the dropout rate.
Thanks to the federal investment in public broadcasting through CPB, over 75 stations are working directly with more than 300 community partners to develop locally-based solutions and media content to engage parents, teachers, mentors, volunteers and business leaders, and help keep high school students on a path to college and career.
American Graduate content can be accessed for free by all Americans and, like so much of the content found across public television and radio — on air and online — directly benefits our civil society.
As the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting, as well as the only entity that represents the breadth of the industry — public television, public radio, producers and local stations — CPB is pleased to share this summary of American Graduate activity to date. Please scroll down to find out more about what is happening in your state.
Alabama community conversations highlight ways to resolve the dropout crisis
In May, Alabama Public Television (Birmingham, AL) and the Alabama Association of School Boards announced the winners of a student video contest, “How We Achieve Excellence in Our Schools.” The winning entries are posted to the station’s American Graduate site. The station continues to work with the state Department of Education's "At Risk" division, as well as Birmingham's Young Mothers' Program and 20 other community partners to target Alabama youth most in danger of dropping out. APT has partnered with the Birmingham Public Library to provide free live homework help to all state residents through the Alabama Library System. APT is airing content on the dropout crisis throughout Alabama, including a series of stories from the Southern Education Desk and episodes of Spotlight on Education that focus on increasing the state's graduation rate. The first dropout-themed episode aired in October, and additional episodes will be broadcast in the coming months.
Students at Central High (Tuscaloosa City School) have made high school graduation rates a platform in their school and community, and have produced a short documentary, “Drop In On Your Future,” about the effects of dropping out of high school. The students interviewed high school dropouts in Tuscaloosa and created vignettes based on the stories they heard. Students are also doing live performances at middle schools in their district, and they created a dropout prevention web site for their school.
APT held its Teacher Town Hall in May.
WVAS-FM (Montgomery, AL) is building local momentum after holding its town hall meeting in July. The station is bringing together school administrators, law enforcement officials, library staff and social workers to discuss ways to address and resolve the dropout crisis in the state of Alabama, and to help parents identify students at risk of dropping out and ways to guide better choices. Key partners include ASPIRE, Alabama Family Youth Initiative (AFYI) and Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE).
In Arizona, the focus is on improving the graduation rate among Latinos
Radio Campesina Network (Phoenix, AZ) — Radio Campesina used local Mexican Independence Day events to talk about the dropout crisis in Phoenix and aired dropout prevention PSAs over its six-station network. Key partners include CCF Housing & Economic Development and CCF Educating the Heart Program.
Arkansas collaborating community-wide for dropout prevention workshop
At AETN (Conway, AR), community and education leaders collaborated to organize a dropout-prevention workshop in November, which aired on AETN in January. AETN's work continues through thriving relationships with the Arkansas Department of Education and the Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute.
California youth offer their perspectives on high school and dropping out
Valley PBS (KVPT; Fresno, CA), in partnership with Reading and Beyond, aired profiles of students throughout December. The station is working with representatives of United Way of Fresno County to build a platform of ongoing awareness in the community which can increase participation and ongoing support for students. Valley PBS is an integral part of United Way's Successful Children's Impact Council and is working closely with the Fresno County Office of Education.
KVIE Public Television (Sacramento, CA) has formed relationships with the County Office of Education and expanded outreach to educators and student groups. The station produced a special edition of Studio Sacramento on the dropout problem. The program, which aired on November 11, is now streaming online. KVIE is also currently organizing a Video Production Mentoring Camp to engage a group of low income, ethnically diverse middle and high school students. KVIE's community partners include: Linking Education and Economic Development (LEED), Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium and the Sacramento County Office of Education.
KQED (San Francisco, CA) is working with Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), a long-time community partner, on a youth media program about the dropout issue. BAVC, through its Next Gen programs, empowers youth to tell their own stories, while learning 21st century skills that prepare them for the workforce. Over the summer, the Factory and BUMP Records offered summer internships to eight students to create original music and video and blog entries about the dropout issue. The students' work culminated in a youth-led event. In June, KQED, TILT and the Disposable Film Festival gave students an opportunity to express their thoughts on the dropout issue through the creation of short films at the Youth Film Lab at Oakland School of the Arts. Fourteen students from Oakland came together for a day-long filmmaking workshop; they conceived, shot and edited short films using camera phones and Flip cams, all on the topic of dropping out and what it means to stay in school. The films were then screened publicly for family, friends and the general public that same night.
On August 18, KQED is partnered with Oakland’s Promise Alliance on their Back to School Rally on the steps of City Hall. Local youth were involved with planning, organizing, and performing at the event, which featured a youth media showcase to raise awareness of the dropout crisis, separate programming for parents/caregivers and a back-pack giveaway. KQED’s American Graduate blog continues to offer stories about the dropout crisis including the unique stories of six Oakland graduates who are moving on to the next chapters of their lives after graduating from high school.
In September, KQED launched the first-ever Oakland Youth Friendly Business Awards in partnership with the Jonas Family Fund, Oakland’s Promise Alliance, the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program, Oakland Youth Commission, Oakland’s Post News Group, the College Career and Readiness Office of Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), and Inner City Advisors. The Oakland Youth Friendly Business Awards, distributed at a ceremony on Sept. 13, recognized Oakland’s businesses and employers that are generous in providing youth with workplace mentoring and internships. In cultivating a business culture that values youth involvement and encourages businesses to invest in their local communities, the Oakland Youth Friendly Business Awards provided a forum for award recipients to talk about their contributions to youth and workforce development while encouraging new businesses to learn about how to connect with OUSD internship programs. The awards also offered a focal point around which all business involved with the Oakland Youth Friendly Business Awards can collaborate and share strategic goals and upcoming plans.
The station conducted a Teacher Town Hall in March, moderated by NPR's Snap Judgment host Glynn Washington. In a special live broadcast from Oakland's Castlemont High School, KQED led a discussion about the dropout challenge with educators and students. Listen and learn more about this debate.
PBS SoCal (KOCE, KVCR, KLCS) has developed a series of technologies-based student media activities and lessons to be piloted at the Paramount STARS after-school program. PBS SoCal is also continuing its partnership with Computer-Using Educators (CUE), a statewide educational technology organization for educators, with a program that will honor student work that connects to the goals of American Graduate and celebrates the teachers who work with students to make media. On February 6, the station took part in Digital Learning Day with local career exploration organization, Vital Link. As part of the day, more than 400 students participated in sessions on community colleges, vocational schools, women in the media and many more topics. All three stations also partnered with Vita Link in April to reach more than 500 middle and high school students at the weekend-long STEM Showcase and Digital Media Arts Day event. PBS SoCal set up a mini studio at the expo, and 15 media industry professionals from Latino Public Broadcasting talked to young people about the importance of sharing their own stories and careers in media fields that interest them. In May, PBS SoCal hosted a Teacher Town Hall at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles.
This summer, PBS SoCal honored the work of students and teachers from more than 40 schools from across the state of California at the 46th Annual California Student Media Festival. A total of 67 awards were given out in celebration of student media and three overall winners received cash prizes thanks to the continued support of Wells Fargo. An additional monetary prize was given to Desert Springs High School, the winning school in the American Graduate category. The station announced that this year's festival will be featured on-air in September. The event honored more than 45 schools and showcased the work of more than 1,000 students, some of which is being featured on PBS SoCal. These monthly student spotlights will continue each month highlighting the work of the festival winners.
KVCR launched It's Your Call, a 13-episode multi-platform series to address student graduation and the challenges families face. The audience had the opportunity to ask questions of guest education experts, teachers and community leaders. KVCR is also focused on the topics of education and dropping out with the news and issues program, Plugged Inland. In addition, KCVR has aired more than 50 PSAs focused on the value of education, voiced by local mayors, school principals, parents and even students. The PSAs aired more than 900 times on KVCR and more than 3000 times on FNX, CREATE and the desert channels.
Colorado raises awareness about issues impacting students' decisions to drop out
Colorado Public Television (KBDI; Denver, CO) is focused on curbing the dropout rate among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (GLBTQ) students, which is nearly three times the national average. The station held an “Expert Summit” with partner organizations to hear their perspectives on the dropout crisis and to discuss possible solutions. Together with KUVO-FM, CPT also produced a special, American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen, A CPT12 Special Presentation, about the high school dropout crisis, including creative solutions and community resources. The program, which aired on November 16, included Rep. Jared Polis, Steve Dobo from Colorado Youth for a Change, and Robert Ham from Urban Peak. CPT began broadcasting interstitials in early November to raise awareness about issues that can impact a student's decision to dropout, such as homelessness, bullying and racism. Key partners in the initiative include Colorado Youth for a Change, Colorado Department of Education and GLSEN Colorado.
KSJD-FM (Mancos, CO) surveyed nearly 300 people at a variety of public places throughout the community about their perspectives on the dropout crisis. The survey results are helping to inform the station's tactics to keep students in school and on a path to graduation, including a production at the Cortez Parade of Lights. The station is also conducting focus group testing of images and messages related to education and the dropout crisis that will inform their broadcast content. KSJD is working with Omni Institute, School Community Youth Coalition and the Montezuma Cortez Re-1 School District & Southwest Open School.
KUVO-FM's (Denver, CO) Community Advisory Board, in conjunction with its news department, hosted a community town hall meeting in October, featuring education experts and community leaders who discussed the issues and possible solutions to the dropout crisis in the Denver community. The station also aired a four-part radio series to provide information and resources to the community around dropout prevention and has partnered with Colorado Public Television for a TV special, American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen, A CPT12 Special Presentation. KUVO's community partners include the Colorado High School Charter and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver.
Digital Media Arts Clubs in Washington, D.C. give students a new set of skills
As part of the Washington D.C. Collaborative (WETA, WHUT, WAMU), WHUT launched five Digital Media Arts Clubs (DMACS) in area high schools to train students in the use of digital media and keep them interested in school, opening themselves up to college and career opportunities. The program, based on an expansion of National Black Programming Consortium's Public Media Corps initiative provides students the opportunity to produce public service announcements about their school experiences. In addition, WHUT has begun hosting a number of teacher work groups, including a session on adolescent literacy. Over the course of the spring, WHUT hosted and filmed “Education Talks Back” Programs at each of their partner schools. The “Education Talks Back” forums created a venue for students to address the challenges that can result from dropping out of school. Additionally, the station produced three “Evening Exchange” programs, including one that focuses on members of the community who overcame significant obstacles to finish school or to return to school.
WETA, along with its partner Double the Numbers (DTN), is currently working on a gap analysis of the dropout prevention services and support available for local youth. The analysis will identify what kinds of services are provided, where they are provided, and what is still needed in each ward of Washington D.C. A snapshot of selected education and youth development organizations in D.C. can be found on DC Dropout Prevention Resources. Volunteer opportunities for those in the community to help keep students engaged in their school work are currently available through the Get Involved section of the D.C. Collaborative’s website.
WETA is also working closely with Walter Dean Myers, award-winning writer and the 2012 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, to create The Second Chance Initiative, an effort to motivate teens to overcome life's challenges, take advantage of the second chances they are given, and make better choices in the future.
In October, WAMU kicked off the first in a series of “Community Minutes” focused on the dropout crisis. Every month, the station featured a new partner discussing community resources and opportunities available to local students and their parents. The station also produced a series of pieces about the dropout crisis in D.C., with WAMU education reporter Kavitha Cardoza. Several Congressional and White House officials commented on the reports via social media. WAMU re-broadcast Cardoza’s stories during “American Graduate Week,” April 30 — May 4. It also aired the radio documentary Fighting the Odds, produced by Cardoza, which followed one of the lowest-performing schools in the District and explored the city’s dropout crisis through the eyes of students, teachers, administrators and parents. Dedicated education and dropout-focused programming continued throughout the week with specials focused how schools in other parts of the nation are faring: examining high-stakes testing in Greensboro, NC, efforts to lessen the achievement gap between blacks and Latinos in New Jersey, and the high drop-out rate in Oakland, California, where fewer than half of public school students earn diplomas. The D.C. Collaborative hosted its Teacher Town Hall on June 5, 2012.
Florida examines the challenges students face in graduating
The Florida Collaborative (WJCT — Jacksonville; WEDU — Tampa; WUSF — Tampa; WFSU — Tallahassee; WLRN — Miami; WDSC — Daytona Beach) is working together and individually to curb the dropout crisis statewide.
WFSU-FM produced a weekly series of two-minute radio pieces highlighting various aspects of the dropout crisis, documenting student, parent, teacher and other community voices. WFSU-TV produced a six-minute segment on its public affairs program Dimensions, featuring interviews with a teacher from a local school that serves students who have been expelled or timed out of middle/ high school, and a community advocate on issues facing young teens — especially African American males. In the Tallahassee community, WFSU is working with the Success Academy, a local middle and high school that was created by the school district as a “last chance for success program” to help students document their high school and career exploration experiences. Over the last few months, the station hosted two parent nights focused on engaging at-risk families in supporting educational goals of their children and a career lunch series in partnership with the Ghazvini Learning Center where students had the opportunity to hear from professionals and community leaders about different careers and the education they require. The mayor of Tallahassee said to the students: “It is important to know the difference between a dream and vision. After you have a vision, you must lay a framework; and the American Graduate project helps students create the framework to fulfill a vision of success.”
WFSU also invited two groups of middle and high school students who live at Boys Town – a group home for foster children – to learn about careers in media. Their tour of the station also included participating in a mock production and learning.
In Jacksonville, WJCT held a legislative town hall with state representatives, as well as American Graduate partners, to discuss ways to address Florida's dropout crisis. WJCT's partners in the American Graduate initiative include, Duval County Public Schools, Learning to Finish Collaborative, United Way of NE Florida, Jacksonville Children's Commission, Jacksonville Public Library, Jewish Community Alliance, Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church, Boy Scouts of Northeast Florida and Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida, among others. The station is airing “First Coast Connect” segments (one per month for 30 months) and 20 radio stories during Morning Edition and All Things Considered, in addition to a 30-minute documentary about the dropout situation in Northeast Florida.
To date, WEDU and WUSF have established partnerships with a number of local organizations as part of their American Graduate outreach. These include: Pinellas County Urban League, United Way of Tampa Bay, University of South Florida - St. Petersburg and Tampa Campuses, St. Petersburg College, Academy Prep Center for Education - St. Petersburg, Bethel Community Baptist Church, Community Housing Solutions, Inc., Inner City Advocates, Hillsborough Community College, Children's Board - Hillsborough County and local ABC affiliate, WSTF. WEDU and WSTF are currently filming interstitials focused on the benefits of participating in Florida’s Take Stock in Children Program (TSIC) from diverse viewpoints, an initiative that serves more than 800 schools in the state. WEDU is also working with the Poynter Institute’s Write Field program that targets at-risk middle school-age boys and pairs them with a male mentor for a day-long writing and life skills session one Saturday per month. Write Field students and their mentors are featured in American Graduate interstitials focused on the benefits of mentoring.
Throughout the 2011-2012 school year, students from Lakewood High School and John Hopkins Middle School participated in PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, As part of the curriculum, they produced videos on subjects related to the dropout crisis, such asschool violence and non-English speaking language barriers. The PBS NewsHour featured a report on a video produced by John Hopkins Middle School entitled, “Fighting Chance? Students Investigate Middle School Violence” and interviewed eighth-grader De'Qonton Davis and other students who were instrumental in the production. This summer, WEDU, in partnership with John Hopkins Middle School, hosted the Best in Journalism Red Carpet Awards to honor all of these student journalists and showcase the work of those enrolled in the Journeys in Journalism program at the school.
WDSC is partnering with Volusia County Public Schools on its American Graduate work. The station has announced a student PSA contest.
WLRN partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to implement a Student PSA Video Contest open to all Miami-Dade County public and private schools from elementary to high school students. In May, the station revisited American Graduate schools in the area with the goal of having all the 6th graders take a pledge to graduate in 2018. Each hour-long event included dynamic speakers talking about their experiences, asking questions, and getting the students involved. WLRN’s partners in this project included: City Year, Breathless Performance Racing, U.S. Army, Homestead Job Corps, U.S. Department of Justice and high school students.
The collaborative held its Teacher Town Hall in April.
“Stop the Drop” in Georgia motivates youth to graduate
PBA (Atlanta, GA) is working closely with the City of Atlanta Parks and Recreation’s Summer of Service Learning (SSL) initiative, an out-of school experiential learning program that teaches at-risk teens what it means to be responsible community citizens by providing them with a variety of opportunities to learn healthy lifestyle choices that lead to improved success in school. The Digital Media Arts Club (DMAC) launched as part of the curriculum is training more than 50 students in broader uses of technology. As part of the club, students met with mentors who spoke with the students about the importance of staying in school and the skills needed to pursue a career in digital media. The students also created Public Service Announcements to raise awareness in their respective communities about the dropout epidemic and other issues that have a negative impact on their graduating high school. The videos, PSAs, and photos are posted on the American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen website.
In partnership with Atlanta Public Schools, PBA’s Homework Hotline program will provide free homework assistance to K-12 students, parents and teachers in all core subject areas throughout the school year.
Later this year and in early 2013, parents and teachers will be invited to participate in two “Parent/Teacher Professional Learning Summits.” These meetings will provide an opportunity for teachers and parents to have a voice in students’ education and to receive expert training to support youths’ learning objectives. The summits will provide parents and caregivers with materials and resources to help students stay in school and adopt healthy lifestyles.
Georgia Public Broadcasting (Atlanta, GA) held a day-long interactive “Stop the Drop” summit in November with more than 250 education experts, parents and students. GPB is collaborating with WCLK on this effort, and both stations have established a joint Twitter feed to share more about their dropout-prevention activities in Atlanta and throughout the state.
Jazz 91.9 FM (WCLK-FM; Atlanta, GA) created a mentorship program, as well as education-centered materials and motivational opportunities for youth, families and educators aimed at dropout prevention. Key partners included United Way of Metro Atlanta and the Southern Education Desk.
In Illinois, mentors are key to keeping kids in school
WTTW worked with Free Spirit Media (FSM), a local youth media organization, to create six short videos about the dropout crisis aimed at youth and adult audiences to be distributed virally, through the website, and on WTTW. The station recently held an event, “Graduating to the Big Screen,” that included all student-created American Graduate content and other programs created over the past year. A panel discussion with students about what it takes to succeed followed the screening. The audience for the event was standing room only, including more than 200 at-risk high school students who created the videos, and their family and friends. Earlier this year, WTTW also partnered with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, a local non-profit organization that conducts writing workshops at public libraries and community centers throughout Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods, to give adults the opportunity to share their thoughts about graduation in a written composition. Six submissions were selected to be recorded to video. This fall, they will be posted on the YOUR STORIES section of WTTW’s website along with a community billboard that will encourage others to share their thoughts on graduation.
WTTW's Chicago Tonight aired four segments devoted to American Graduate. The station’s community partners in this effort include Youth Connection Charter Schools and the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research.
WQPT (Moline, IL) is airing spots about mentoring opportunities in the community. These spots have also been given to commercial media to extend their reach. In December, the station aired a roundtable discussion with community leaders and educators on local dropout rates and solutions. The roundtable was followed by a community conversation. Achieve Quad Cities, the local United Way and Big Brothers Big Sisters are partnering with WQPT on the American Graduate initiative.
Family & community engagement are essential to fostering student learning in Indiana
WFYI (Indianapolis, IN) hosted the 2012 Indiana Public Policy Forum for Family, Schools & Community Engagement, which brought together an audience of 100 state legislators, state education department staff, agency executives, deans, school superintendents and state education organizations interested in developing policy strategies that foster integrated and sustained family and community engagement that connects to student learning. The six-part series is accessible here. WFYI also held nine education conversations since March 2012, with 900 people attending the events. They were filmed, webcast, focused on education, and concluded with a Town Hall in August. The conversations, focused on education policy and best practices for parents and teachers, involved community partners including the public library, Stand for Children and Education Reform Now, among others.
In April, WFYI, the Library, United Way and Indiana Public Schools sponsored the launch of kindergarten registration at local schools. WFYI created a banner for children to sign and note their high school graduation year, in an effort to remind parents that that kindergarten is the first step to graduation. These banners also create an opportunity to talk about goal setting and other important components. WFYI has produced similar banners for students to sign at other community events. The station recently gathered the signatures of close to 200 fifth-grade students from MDS Lawrence Township on a tour/learning day at WFYI.
WFYI activities in May included the on-air American Graduate Day, when the station broadcast six hours of television content focused on education, including Mind Trust, IPS Education Conversations and other local programs. In addition, the station aired Amazing World of Science, a science education-themed professional development day for both community providers and educators. Rick Crosslin, an award-winning science teacher and host of WFYI local science show Indiana Expeditions, hosted the trainings. WFYI also participated in Lemonade Day in May, which is an annual event in Indy in which children around the city are encouraged to “share, save and spend” their proceeds from lemonade stands around the city. American Graduate information was placed in each participant’s back pack. More than 15,000 children hosted stands, and connected high school graduation with financial literacy.
In June, WFYI hosted PBS Kids in the Park, an event attended by more than 30,000 adults and children. One quadrant of the event was designated as the American Graduate Zone, in which the station distributed American Graduate printed materials.
They also hosted Know How 2 Go College Readiness Summit. This event included nearly 200 counselors, teachers, administrators, youth workers, financial aid specialists and out-of-school providers and featured national and state experts and model programs that have been successful in helping students realize their dreams of going to college.
WFYI’s production department hosted the Diversity Sports Media Institute in July. This provided a select group of high school students the chance to focus specifically on sports journalism with a curriculum developed by Indiana University.
In addition, the station developed its first corporate volunteer plan with a partner school. Each WFYI staff member receives one hour a week to volunteer, including teaching students to crochet and practicing with the first-ever softball team. Volunteers have also provided summer camp scholarships to students who work in the food pantry, staff book clubs or assist teachers. WFYI’s general manager, Lloyd Wright, has spoken to several classes about career choices. This summer, WFYI sponsored 35 eighth grade science students to attend the Challenger Learning Center and is moving ahead with plans to form a job shadowing program.
Kentucky students raise awareness about the dropout crisis, while enhancing their journalism skills
WMMT (Whitesburg, KY) worked with 12 high school students to raise awareness of the dropout issue by conducting audio interviews with local civic and business leaders, school administrators, local church leaders and community action agencies. WMMT used these stories to facilitate community conversations around dropout prevention in the community. Key partners include Letcher County Central High School, Whitesburg Middle School and Fleming Neon Elementary.
Louisiana explores dropout prevention techniques that positively impact students
Louisiana Public Broadcasting (Baton Rouge, LA) aired a statewide town hall meeting held in Shreveport, Dropout Dilemma: Louisiana's Education Crisis, that explored why many Louisiana students give up on their education, and what can the state and local communities can do to successfully combat the problem. The station is also working with the Public Affairs Research Council to identify and highlight dropout prevention techniques that are having a positive impact on students. Partners include the Louisiana Department of Education on the American Graduate initiative.
Red River Radio (KDAQ-FM; Shreveport, LA) held a call-in show, focused on school attendance and truancy to address the dropout crisis. Guests included representatives from two of Red River Radio's key partner organizations: Alliance for Education and Volunteers for Youth Justice. The second show on October 12, featured experts from Alliance for Education as well as a state representative discussing governmental issues relating to education and high school dropouts. Red River Radio also collaborated with Louisiana Public Broadcasting to host a town hall discussion during which local and state experts explored the dropout crisis and addressed questions from the audience.
WYES (New Orleans, LA) is producing three reports on recent graduates from Jefferson Chamber Foundation Academy's innovative program for at-risk students. The reports were part of a half-hour program. Key partners include Jefferson County Foundation Academy and WWNO.
Maryland parents gain access to dropout prevention resources
Maryland Public Television (Owings Mills, MD) held four parent workshops and two community resource fairs to provide parents with assistance and dropout prevention resources. MPT also aired No Textbook Answer, a program produced by the Kettering Foundation, highlighting eight communities' efforts to eliminate the "achievement gap" between minority/low income students and their white/middle income counterparts. The program included interviews with local education experts, parents and others telling the story of dropout prevention in Maryland. MPT's partners include the University for Parents and MacArthur Middle School.
Massachusetts youth learn valuable media skills while producing segments on the dropout crisis
WGBY's (Springfield, MA) Connecting Point debuted the work of 25 teenagers who learned media skills and produced work on education and the dropout crisis as part of their participation in the Latino Youth Media Institute Youth Workshop and Showcase. The content they produced was also shown at a community screening on December 14. Prior to this, WGBY held a community stakeholder meeting to collaborate on a plan of action to help address local dropout issues. The station also worked with the local YMCA and MassHousing to host a youth forum at Harvard University, where youth developed a proposal to MassHousing requesting additional funding to sustain American Graduate work. The station is also working closely with Partners for a Healthier Community.
Michigan teacher town hall focuses on how to keep kids interested in school
Detroit Public Television (Detroit, MI) held a Teacher Town Hall on November 18, moderated by PBS NewsHour's Hari Sreenivasan. The town hall brought together more than 100 local teachers, participants from the Michigan State Department of Education, City Year and other community organizations, and parents to focus on the challenges of and solutions to keeping students interested and engaged in school. In addition, a team of local youth reporters participating in the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs covered the event, and StoryCorps was present to recruit teachers for its National Teachers Initiative, which celebrates the work of educators. Since the Town Hall, DPTV has been working with PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at three local schools. One school, Fraser High School, in suburban Detroit has been very active in the program and was just awarded a student equivalent of an Emmy for this piece. DPTV is also in discussion with the United Way of Southeast Michigan about expanding the range of services provided through their 2-1-1 system to include educational resources in addition to basic social services. The purpose is to provide help to parents who are concerned about their child’s academic progress but may not want to speak with school administrators and to offer assistance to educators working with children who are struggling because of basic social needs. DPTV held five sessions with youths at agencies providing homeless student supports, homeless shelters, foster care supports, transitional housing, or outreach programs.
In June, the station broadcast a Graduation Celebration to help parents, teachers and members of the larger community recognize resources that can help students reach graduation. The four student stories from the Graduation Celebration came from community partners and were selected from over a dozen student nominations. The “heroes” in these stories illustrate how students have overcome tough odds to graduate from high school and how youth can use education as a path out of poverty and into a brighter future. The videos will be used by community organizations to help them further their mission.
DPTV is producing another series of videos, this one aimed at parents and teachers, with support from Crimestoppers and the Michigan Department of Human Services. The goal of the videos is to highlight the warning sights of dropping out with a particular focus on truancy. Together with DPTV, Winning Futures created a series of 10 training videos for teachers to accompany the Winning Futures life skills and goal setting curriculum.
DPTV continues to work closely with Detroit Public School students at the Detroit School of the Arts and WRCJ-FM. The station airs two student-produced shows each month and is encouraging students to post their own videos at DetroitPerforms.org. The station is also planning an informational campaign in the fall directed at teachers to help them connect their students with resources to help them succeed.
WGVU (Grand Rapids, MI) is airing a weekly series on its morning show related to the dropout crisis and is following up with a special edition of Newsmakers, which takes viewers on a tour of Kent Innovation High School to speak with students and administrators. WGVU is also working with several local schools to create opportunities for students to work with station staff as part of a “broadcast school.” The school will demonstrate relevance of education by having students record their own on-air spots. On November 9, WGVU held a community meeting, Helping Our Kids Graduate, to generate input from the community — students, parents, educators and neighbors — about how to increase the graduation rate in Grand Rapids. Key partners include GVSU Office of Multicultural Affairs, Kent Intermediate School District and Kent School Services Network.
New PSAs, co-produced by youth, urge Minnesota students to stay in school
KMOJ-FM (Minneapolis, MN), together with Twin Cities Public Television, convened a group of local stakeholders in early November to discuss the dropout crisis in the Twin Cities. The station is also developing a PSA with local partner organizations, such as the African American Leadership Forum, Northside Achievement Zone and the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center at the University of Minnesota.
Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. (St. Paul, MN) is broadcasting a series of dropout prevention interstitials produced in partnership with MN Alliance with Youth, and co-produced with youth. In addition, the station is working to connect American Graduate work with the America's Promise Alliance “One Voice” campaign. Other key partners include the state Department of Education and KMOJ-FM.
Community summit in Mississippi focuses on how to “Stop the Drop”
Mississippi Public Broadcasting (Jackson, MS) garnered local attention from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, (“MPB Initiative Aims to Keep Kids in School,” Nov. 15) for Stop the Drop: A Dropout Prevention Summit, which brought the community together in November and aired on MPB later in 2011. MPB is partnering locally with the United Way, Operation Shoestring and 100 Black Men of Jackson.
Missouri educators discuss the challenges students face in school and after school
Nine Network of Public Media (KETC; St. Louis, MO) brought together more than 100 teachers for its Teacher Town Hall in November. During the discussion, moderated by PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill, educators provided first-person accounts of the realities they and their students face in the classroom. The event was covered twice by the St. Louis Beacon and in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on St. Louis Public Radio and on local station KDHX. PBS NewsHour also devoted a segment to the event. Some of the station's 44 partners include: Teach for America, Washington University St. Louis, the City of St. Louis, Missouri Charter Public Schools, Epworth Children and Family Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters, St. Louis University and STRYVE St. Louis.
Nebraska's re-entry programs help former students earn their high school diplomas
Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET; Lincoln, NE) is partnering with United Way, the Nebraska Department of Education, Avenue Scholars and local school districts to broadcast statewide a community summit on Nebraska's dropout prevention and re-entry initiatives, and is developing pathways to dropout prevention resources through local 2-1-1.
Educators emphasize anti-bullying initiatives to keep Nevada kids in school
Vegas PBS (Las Vegas, NV) provided technical and logistical support for a seminar that included 2,000 Clark County School District administrators, who received professional development focusing on bullying and how it relates to dropouts. The event prompted the school district to place a renewed focus on new anti-bullying initiatives. In addition, the station created a series of Emmy-winning PSAs focused on the dropout crisis in Las Vegas.
Vegas PBS received a grant from the Native American Public Telecommunications group to invite a UNLV doctoral student to intern at the station. The intern, of Navajo background, worked with local Native American tribes to better understand the issues that Native American teens face in graduating from high school.
Vegas PBS held its Teacher Town Hall on March, 29, 2012. The event was recently nominated for an Imagen Award, which aims to recognize and reward positive portrayals of Latinos in all forms of media, as well as encourage and recognize the achievements of Latinos in the entertainment and communications industries.
On April 12, 2012, the station aired American Graduate: The Road To Reform, which features an overview of the Clark County School District's efforts to combat dropout prevention. The broadcast also profiles Helping Families Graduate, which provides a forum for parents and students to share their challenges and successes in navigating through high school.
KNPB (Reno, NV) held a community compact initiative to kick off its American Graduate work. Speakers included Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, students and local business leaders. The station also completed a piece on the school district's re-engagement centers, and hosted an open line meeting with the school superintendent for the community. Key partners include: Community Impact, Washoe County School District and Parent University.
New Mexico youth talk about educational, social challenges that led them to drop out
KNME (Albuquerque, NM) partnered with the state’s attorney general’s office on truancy to work with students in creating messages aimed at families with very young children to highlight the importance of school attendance. The messages aired on four New Mexico PBS channels and were posted to the station’s website. KNME is also working with the Robert F. Kennedy Charter School (RFK), which serves a predominantly Hispanic rural population. RFK’s principal and students were interviewed and shared some very powerful stories as part of the station’s Public Square program, focused on the dropout crisis in New Mexico. The show's season premiere explored how to improve graduation rates in Albuquerque's South Valley. It was followed by an episode that featured youth who had dropped out or re-entered school discussing how to help students overcome the educational and social challenges that can lead to dropping out. The episode was screened at the University of New Mexico for the students, their families and teachers. KNME's partners in their American Graduate work include Generation Justice, which hosted a forum, New Mexico Speaks, to continue the dialogue on education among teachers, young people and the community.
Earlier in 2012, the station’s public affairs program, New Mexico in Focus, broadcast five short segments, highlighting partners and solutions in the community. More are currently in production with input from community partners. Partners have also helped with messages and tips for families including warning signs and messages about truancy.
The station hosted its Teacher Town Hall on April 18, 2012.
New York students take a pledge to stay in school
The education department of WSKG (Binghamton, NY) launched an initiative, “Are You In?” to reach out to educators online and on social media. Throughout November, the station aired radio features about the dropout crisis, as well as a community conversation and community summit on the dropout issue. A number of community organizations and individuals are working with WSKG on their American Graduate initiatives, including Rural Schools Association of New York State, Broome Community College Center for Civic Engagement and Greater Binghamton Educational Opportunity Program.
WNET/Thirteen (New York, NY) has identified 12 student filmmakers through the Reel Works project in Brooklyn. These students developed a 30-45 minute film focused on the dropout crisis in New York City as seen through the eyes of a struggling teenager. The film debuted during the station’s American Graduate Day on Sept. 22. American Graduate Day is a full day of programming focused on issues and programs related to raising awareness of the dropout crisis in our community and on the importance of staying in school. The station hosted its Teacher Town Hall in May. WNET is exploring a number of partnerships and is working closely with the Mayor's Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism & Engaging At-Risk Students at School, which includes representatives from several New York City agencies, such as the New York City Department of Education's Office of School and Youth Development.
WXXI (Rochester, NY) produced several dropout-related programs, including, Need to Know Rochester: A Challenge to Rochester Schools, Connection: Education Special: Improving Graduation Rates and Connection: Parent Involvement in September. Need to Know Rochester earned the station an invitation for a special screening from the Rochester City School Board, with a news director facilitating the panel discussion. As a result of its work to date, WXXI has secured a $20,000 underwriter to support their American Graduate work. The station's key partners include 2-1-1 Finger Lakes, NY and Rochester Mentors.
WCNY (Syracuse, NY) held a student forum with eighth-graders, highlighting the station's multimedia campaign to pledge to stay in school. The project has community-wide support, and the effort is so popular the station has had to print more pledge forms for all those who want to make the pledge. WCNY's partners include Syracuse City School District, Say Yes to Education and the Educational Services Advisory Committee.
WMHT (Troy, NY) broadcast a one-hour town hall meeting that included participation from local high school students through a variety of media and technology tools. The station is also working on creating a live chat component through its American Graduate Facebook page and has secured funding from underwriters to support on-air interstitials, such as this one and this one. Key partners include Hamilton Fulton Montgomery BOCES, New York State United Teachers and Liberty Partnerships Program.
Communities and schools come together to increase graduation rates in North Carolina
North Carolina Public Radio (WUNC; Chapel Hill, NC), together with the Durham Nativity Middle School, is conducting weekly meetings of its Youth Radio Club, which started last year. Students in the club learn media production skills and interviewing techniques and produce on-air stories. The station produced a video on the Youth Radio Club. WUNC Radio also collaborated with UNC-TV on a special episode of The State of Things, which aired on November 23 and focused on how to keep students engaged in class. The station recently received $20,000 from corporate sponsor GlaxoSmithKline to sustain their dropout prevention work. Yo: Durham is a partner in WUNC's American Graduate project.
WTVI (Charlotte, NC), in partnership with Communities in Schools, aired the Community Education Summit on October 26. Through its work, the station has enhanced relationships with community partner organizations that are also focused on the dropout crisis, such as the local police department, Communities in Schools, YMCA & Young Achievers and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.
WFSS (Fayetteville, NC) held a forum with community leaders to identify possible causes of the dropout crisis in the Fayetteville area. WFSS also participated in an event with Cumberland County Schools and more than 650 parents and students to launch an effort to recover students who dropped out in the previous school year and encourage them to finish their education.
UNC-TV (Research Triangle Park, NC) deployed a dropout survey at several local events, including Kickoff to Kindergarten, Fiesta Del Pueblo and a local education conference, to gain information about the community's awareness of the dropout crisis, its needs and available resources. Partners in the initiative include the state Department of Public Instruction and Communities in Schools, along with local church leaders.
WFDD-FM (Winston-Salem, NC) held a series of working lunches with educators, representatives from the United Way and dropout prevention coordinators to gain insight and expertise on the dropout issue and prevention efforts already underway in the community. On December 1, the station, in partnership with Winston-Salem State University held a community conversation, The High School Drop-out Rate: What Does It Mean? about the high school dropout rate in North Carolina. WFDD's partners include the United Way of Forsyth County, the United Way of Guilford County and Communities in Schools of North Carolina.
In Ohio, mentors are key to encouraging students to graduate
CET (Cincinnati, OH) is working with its radio partner, WVXU, to report on the dropout crisis, as well as to incorporate youth voices into public affairs coverage. To date, WVXU has aired four 10-minute features on innovative intervention programs and five 30-minute specials on mentoring, the significance of early learning programs, and early warning signs. All stories are archived on the WVXU website. CET’s bi-monthly program, Focus, is exploring “Ideas That Work” in addressing the dropout crisis. The initial program focused on mentoring; two more aired this summer, exploring the Strive Partnership’s Campaign for Grade Level reading and the warning signs for dropping out. A culminating one-hour broadcast is planned for the fall. In January, the station launched a new website to provide community members with simple ways to become a mentor or a tutor. The station's education staff is offering workshops on “21st Century Skills” to seventh and eighth grade students, their parents and teachers at two of the station's partner schools, John P. Parker and Pleasant Hill. Two classes at Hughes STEM High School participated in a social media project on an American Graduate Pinterest board, titled, “Why I go to School.” Nearly 40 students participated in a brief digital story-telling workshop and learned to create “pins” that tell their story. The stories were submitted to WGBH’s Pinterest page and are being re-pinned on CET’s Pinterest page. The students also made audio recordings of their stories.
WOSU Public Media (Columbus, OH) hosted John Bridgeland, president and CEO of Civic Enterprises, as a guest on All Sides with Ann Fisher to discuss what can be done to increase high school graduation rates. WOSU is partnering with United Way of Central Ohio, AT&T Success Centers/Columbus and Learn4Life Columbus.
WGTE's (Toledo, OH) Deadline Now featured representatives from local organizations working on education and dropout issues in the Toledo community. The October 14 program focused on graduation initiatives in Toledo. WGTE's community partners, including school administrators, community education leaders and United Way representatives, participated in a town hall in November, where they took questions and comments from community members via phone, email and text messaging. Toledo Public Schools is partnering with WGTE for the American Graduate initiative.
Workshops provide Pennsylvania parents with tools to help their children succeed
WHYY (Philadelphia, PA) and the Notebook have been providing significant coverage of the changes in Philadelphia's School Reform Commission. Last fall, the station hosted two in a series of three Parenting Workshops on “Homework” and “Discipline,” respectively. In February, the station launched a series of six “Civic Dialogues” as part of the partnership with the Penn Project Civic Engagement. The events had 55 participants, including teachers, administrations, parents, foundations, non-profits, public and private schools. The goal was to collectively identify resources available in the community and find positive ways to help students graduate from high school and find success in college or career. Additionally, the station established a teacher scholarship to help 80 teachers learn how to better engage students through the use of multimedia production techniques in the classroom.
Alternative education programs in Puerto Rico encourage students to graduate
WMTJ (Rio Piedras, PR) is partnering with local community organizations and Puerto Rico's Department of Education, to raise awareness about various alternative education programs for high school students and dropouts. The station's partners include Proyecto Casas of Educational Dept of Puerto Rico, Nuestra Escuela Inc. and Proyecto P.E.C.E.S. Inc.
South Carolina's anti-dropout summit brings community partners together to increase awareness about the dropout crisis
SCETV (Columbia, SC) and its community partners held the first American Graduate summit community planning meeting last September, and hosted an American Graduate summit — streamed live on Facebook — on October 18, to increase awareness about the dropout crisis. Dr. Samuel Drew of the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network gave the keynote address. SCETV's key partners are: National Dropout Prevention Centers, South Carolina State Department of Education and the United Way Association of South Carolina.
Texas students serve as filmmakers, journalists to increase awareness about the dropout crisis
KACV (Amarillo, TX), through its Face to Face program, is increasing awareness about the dropout issue and solutions, including creating opportunities for community conversations. The station also launched a contest in which students created video messages encouraging classmates to stay in school. Videos are posted on kacv.org/graduate. The Amarillo Globe-News has covered the station's dropout prevention efforts closely with four recent stories: “Students Win Video Contest,” Jan. 19; “Contest with a Cause,” Nov. 14; “Education Expert Schools Leaders,” Oct. 27; “KACV Project Aims to Slow Dropouts,” Oct. 5. KACV's partners in the American Graduate initiative include the Amarillo Independent School District and Panhandle Twenty/20.
Texas PBS (KLRN; San Antonio, TX), working with San Antonio Education Partnership, Generation Texas and Girls, Inc., aired a community forum on October 27 with a corresponding live Tweet-up. Girls, Inc. participants also served as citizen journalists to capture interviews with the audience and panelists that will be shared online. Other key partners are Big Brothers Big Sisters and Communities in Schools San Antonio.
Immigrants to Tennessee document the challenges they face in school
WCTE's (Cookeville, TN) American Graduate efforts have generated support from the state's First Lady, Crissy Haslam, who hosted The Tennessee Story on the dropout issue, as well as key partners such as East Tennessee PBS, WKNO and the state Department of Education's Center for Dropout Prevention.
Nashville Public Television (Nashville, TN) held its Teacher Town Hall in February. Since then, America’s Promise Alliance, through Alignment Nashville, has assembled a community task force as part of American Graduate to direct community resources to the areas of focus teachers emphasized during the Town Hall. Last September, the station's community partners in the Next Door Neighbors project, where immigrants produce videos about their lives in Nashville, helped to expand the video production to immigrant students in Nashville schools for the American Graduate project. More than 100 students from five area schools are participating, and two teachers are creating a video from their perspective about accommodating the large immigrant population in their classrooms. Later this fall, NPT will release two 30-minute documentaries — the first addressing challenges that immigrants face in Nashville schools and proposed solutions from the immigrant community; the second will focus on the ways Tennessee has addressed the dropout crisis in recent years. The station, through successful multi-year projects such as Next Door Neighbors, Children's Health Crisis, and now American Graduate, continues to establish relationships with key community partners, including TN SCORE, Metro Nashville Public Schools and Alignment Nashville.
Virginia teachers learn about the impact bullying can have on students' decisions to drop out
WHRO (Norfolk, VA) hosted Tech Trek: American Graduate, a weeklong technology training camp for 21 educators to utilize technology to better engage their students. Building on the lessons learned during the Tech Trek training, WHRO implemented the “Our Voices” digital storytelling curriculum during two summer enrichment camps. The “Our Voices” program provided instruction on using iPod Touches with cameras to create digital stories and guided teachers to create their own digital stories as final projects. The first training included distribution of iPod Touches and instruction on storyboarding, interviewing and videography techniques. Day two covered editing techniques and provides technical support for youth to complete their digital story projects. Youth media created during the camps is accessible on WHRO’s American Graduate website and YouTube Playlist, and the station has uploaded pictures to its Flicker account.
The station has captured video for American Graduate productions, including an anti-bullying forum for educators, and an interview with the Norfolk Public Schools superintendent. The station has also joined its school system partner's Parent & Community Engagement Action Team. Through that affiliation, WHRO is launching a school attendance campaign and publishing a Norfolk Public Schools Community Action Plan to address the dropout crisis. WHRO hosted a series of Community Conversations, “Students’ Success in Schools: How do we meet the challenge of having more, or even all, students succeed at school? Whose responsibility is it?” in Norfolk. More than 150 parents, community members, military liaisons, government officials, business leaders, civic leaders, and educators attended and helped to inform the Community Action Plan. Working with the South Hampton Roads United Way, and the United Way’s African American Leadership Council, WHRO is planning to host student forums this fall to hear directly from youth about the real reasons behind why students leave the education system. The station will also promote to web-based tools developed by United Way: Volunteer Serve, which connects volunteers to nonprofit organizations; and Gift Link, a donation sharing site that links those who have items to donate with nonprofits and schools that need them. WHRO’s American Graduate partners, include: Opportunity Inc. Youth Program, Broadcreek Digital Inclusion Advisory Board, Old Dominion University TEAMS program (Teaching, Education, and Awareness for Military-connected schools), Youth Partnership, YMCA and the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. The station also established a media partnership with WVEC-TV (ABC affiliate), Inside Business (a weekly business magazine), and The Virginian-Pilot to help focus community-wide attention on the issue and promote American Graduate.
WHRO hosted the Community TechFest/National STEM Video Game Challenge training at Norfolk State University, which is located in a community that feeds WHRO’s partner schools. Over 400 people attended and over 300 students participated in the hands-on game development training. The event reinforced career opportunities using digital media and the importance of obtaining a high school diploma.
The station held its Teacher Town Hall in March.
Washington business and education leaders emphasize the importance of a high school education
KBTC (Tacoma, WA) is part of the Tacoma Mayor's Educational Task Force, which includes the Mayor's Office and civic leaders in the community. KBTC also produced an episode of South Sound Business Report, which aired in December and featured local education leaders.
Wisconsin communities come together to explore efforts to improve high school graduation rates
Milwaukee Public Television (Milwaukee, WI) live streamed a community conversation on November 30 in partnership with WUWM. MPT is also producing a number of on-air broadcasts, including a one-hour special that aired on December 12, American Graduate; Let's Make It Happen, Milwaukee, which explores local efforts to improve graduation rates for city students. The station is also producing a series of reports in collaboration with WUWM that will be featured on various local programs, such as Black Nouveau, Adelante and The 4th Street Forum. Milwaukee Public Television is partnering with Milwaukee Public Schools on its American Graduate work.