The National Summer Learning Association says that more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth is a result of unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.
This summer, American Graduate stations will offer internship opportunities and host summer learning programs to keep students from all backgrounds interested and engaged in education year-round.
Many students will work directly with professional broadcast journalists and equipment operators at public media stations through hands-on internship programs. Others will participate in youth media programs that focus on the use of technology – digital and social media – to teach valuable 21st Century skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving.
In addition, public media stations are hosting other community activities, including reading camps for elementary school students, speaker series to help older students identify possible career paths, and parenting workshops that provide more information about how to support their children in school.
American Graduate content and programs can be accessed for free by all Americans and, like so much of the content found across public television and radio — on air, online and on the ground — 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 summer activities.
Please scroll down to find out more about what is happening in your state.
Young Alabama students get help with their reading throughout the summer
Alabama Public Television (APTV) will broadcast an upcoming Spotlight on Education episode focusing on the “summer gap” issue that many of Alabama’s children face. The station is also helping local children with their reading skills throughout the summer. As part of American Graduate, APTV is partnering with Alabama Reach Out and Read (ROR) and Birmingham Public Library (BPL) for “Prescription for Summer Reading.” Students and their parents can get a “prescription” from one of 200 local pediatricians and show it at a local library to receive an American Graduate education pack that includes online resources for youth, a book, pencils and a bookmark.
The next generation of filmmakers learns production skills in California
KQED (San Francisco) is hosting a youth filmmakers lab, and the station continues to partner with the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) to teach students media production skills. Several BAVC students will participate in internships this summer, producing videos and music for Factory Films and BUMP Records. On August 18, KQED will help the community celebrate a new school year with a back-to-school rally. Children will receive free backpacks filled with school supplies, and parents can speak with school district staff during information sessions.
District of Columbia youth, teachers discuss classroom challenges
As a follow-up to the DC Teacher Town Hall on June 5, WHUT is bringing together teachers and students this summer to talk about the challenges they each face in the classroom. The station has also produced an episode of Let's Talk Education about the dropout crisis and an episode of Evening Exchange, titled “Helping Kids Stay in School, Helping Adults Go Back,” which features an interview with three generations of dropouts.
Interns in the Learning Media Department at WETA will assist the American Graduate teams with a number of projects over the summer, including researching and creating a searchable database of volunteer opportunities for community members who want to mentor youths and encourage them to stay in school. The station will also add new professional development materials for teachers to the American Graduate DC website.
Florida students take a pledge to graduate from high school
WFSU, Leon County Schools Title 1 program and the United Way of the Big Bend will host SuperWHY! Summer Reading Camps throughout the summer. Nearly 200 children will attend the camps, led by Leon County certified elementary school teachers, to improve their reading and comprehension skills so they are ready for success in the fall.
WLRN recently completed a series of school visits during which students took a pledge to graduate from high school. The station is also hosting a speaker series for middle and high school students, featuring representatives from City Year, U.S. Army, Homestead Job Corps, Department of Justice, and even a 14-year-old student race car driver, discussing their career paths and why a high school diploma is essential to their success.
WJCT, in partnership with the Poynter Institute and We Hear You (WHY), is hosting student media training workshops. The workshops are geared toward helping at-risk students stay on a path to graduation by involving them in media production projects. Throughout the summer, WJCT will also work with Jacksonville Public Education Fund, along with 800 local citizens, to produce a 30-minute documentary about the progress that has been made so far in collecting feedback and input on education in Duval County.
Georgia students gain valuable media, storytelling skills through Digital Media Arts Clubs
WPBA has launched a Digital Media Arts Club that will engage students in using digital skills, media and storytelling, among other tools, to address literacy and learning needs. The Mac/Media Lab at WPBA will also host digital mixers, staff recruiting sessions and guest trainers for participating students. Finally, the station, together with the Office of Recreation and Saving our Sons and Sisters will recruit interns to create community-focused videos that address students’ motivations for attending school, explore their goals and aspirations, and explain the value they place on a high school diploma. The videos will be posted here.
Through stories and songs, Illinois youth learn to love reading
WTTW presents Readers Are Leaders events scheduled through the summer at libraries, malls and other locations, targeting parents of children in pre-K through third grade. Young students and their families can take part in a sing-along, storytelling adventures and story readings as a way to support early literacy development throughout the summer. All participants will receive a children’s book and a package of information for parents about encouraging educational excellence.
For the eighth year, WQPT is hosting its WQPT/PBS Ambassador Program for students who have been accepted into a college or currently enrolled. WQPT ambassadors are a highly trained extension of the station’s volunteer force, representing the station and public broadcasting at fairs, community and fundraising events, and on television. The experience provides students with opportunities to connect with the community, enhance their public speaking skills and gain experience working with diverse groups both in the office and among WQPT audiences.
Indiana communities come together to address student absenteeism
WFYI will conduct its Summer Education Discussion Series through August. These public forums address educational issues facing the Indianapolis community and bring together policymakers, educators, city and state officials, parents, youth workers, business leaders, journalists and other education organizations to share ideas for improvement. The station is also hosting a summit on chronic absenteeism in July. Dr. Hedy Chang, Attendance Works!; Terry Spradlin, Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University; and Jackie Garvey, Indiana Partnerships Center will be among the presenters at the summit, which will be preceded by a press conference. WFYI plans to continue producing American Graduate reports on the dropout crisis throughout the summer and will broadcast one more No Limits call-in show on June 28, focused on the voices of middle and high school students. WFYI’s American Graduate reporter, Jo Ann Klooz, will serve as the host.
Missouri gives students opportunities to speak out about education challenges and solutions
Nine Network (KETC) and its community partners recognized that the youth voice is an essential and ongoing element that should be included in American Graduate work. This summer, the station is hosting its first American Graduate Nine Academy class, June 4-13. High school students participating in the class will learn the art of digital storytelling, while gaining additional skills such as editing, shooting with small format, digital hand-held cameras, and dissemination techniques that will enable them to continue creating video and sharing important stories from the St. Louis community. Nine Network will also host youth conversations throughout the summer, including a “Youth Town Hall” with more than 100 high school students during July. The focus of the discussions will be on the problems students face in and out of the classroom and how the community can help. Programs aimed at younger students include distribution of The Electric Company Summer Learning Program curriculum to local partners that focus on early elementary students or remedial middle school students. This summer, the station will host a summer intern who will assist the station in aggregating, organizing and coding all American Graduate content to make it more accessible to the community via social media and online sites.
Summer projects in Nevada are focused on providing more resources to minority students
Vegas PBS will offer high school and college internships this summer, giving students the opportunity to participate in different aspects of American Graduate work, including video production. The station, in conjunction with Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc., will host a doctoral candidate of Native American heritage who will focus on researching and compiling American Graduate resources to meet the needs of Native Americans and other minority populations. She will also help other student interns expand the station’s use of social media.
New Mexico helps students avoid the “summer slump”
Throughout the summer, New Mexico PBS will continue providing tips and multi-media, multi-platform spots focused on out-of-school time activities, including summer camps that address student engagement and the “summer slump.” Viewers will also see new “stay in school” messages developed by the station’s community partners.
New York kicks off American Graduate Day with programming dedicated to the dropout crisis
On September 22, WNET will kick off “American Graduate Day” – a full day of programming dedicated to education, the dropout crisis and the individuals and organizations that are helping to keep kids on a path to graduation. American Graduate Day also marks the premiere of a documentary by ReelWorks, a free filmmaking program that challenges at-risk teens in New York City to tell their stories and have their voices heard. In turn, they build vital literacy and leadership skills as well as the self-confidence to create productive futures. The film will show the lives of six diverse teens – including one getting her GED and other attending a satellite program to obtain her regent’s degree – and the educators encouraging them.
WXXI (Rochester) offers internships to students to gain professional experience working in the station’s various departments, such as production or communications. WXXI interns can earn academic credit at their college, fulfill volunteer requirements and begin building their resume.
WMHT (Troy) is hosting several college interns this summer to work in the station’s various departments, including the education department. Here, students will help work, coordinate interviews with teachers and assist in editing and re-purposing video footage for use on the web and as part of community conversations about the dropout crisis. The station is also developing specific projects with local summer youth employment groups.
North Carolina provides a host of public media internships for students
North Carolina Public Radio will host five high school interns this summer. The interns, local students who are getting their first paid jobs, come from low-performing schools in the area and have been at risk of dropping out. Over the course of the summer, the students will serve as youth radio reporters and will receive five weeks of training at the station’s “Summer Institute.” Here, they will learn about the mission of public radio, journalism ethics, and production skills, including planning, researching, taping, interviewing and editing. They will also receive coaching on how to leverage the Institute for future college and job opportunities. The features they produce will be used on air. Two recent college graduates will serve as mentors for the youth radio reporters and assist WUNC’s staff in running the Summer Institute.
WFDD (Winston-Salem) offers six different intern tracks targeted to college students. These include: Membership and Individual Giving; WFDD News; Operations and Production; Marketing and Community Events; Social Media; and Underwriting. The goal of the internship program is to provide practical experience in the radio broadcasting and nonprofit industry, and to teach skills that can only be learned on the job. At the high school level, students can participate in Radio 101, which teaches journalism, technology, personal reflection and storytelling. The program also includes access to digital recorders, microphones, and laptops for editing audio. Radio camp 2012 is a week-long class in which students learn the basics of audio recording in the studio and "in the field" – how to conduct an interview; how to edit sound on computers into a radio news story; and the other skills needed to write, record, edit, and create stories for the radio.
WTVI (Charlotte) will partner with the YMCA “Achievers” program to offer internships at the station. The “Achievers” program is a nationally known youth club that helps students in area high schools with the lowest graduation rates achieve post-secondary education and career goals. Students participating in WTVI internships will gain real-world work experience assisting station staff with program production and community events, and supporting Education & Engagement activities.
Ohio parents get ideas, resources to keep students engaged in learning throughout the summer
CET will produce two half-hour public affairs programs as part of its Focus series on “Ideas that Work.” Representatives from Strive, United Way’s Success By Six and the Northern Kentucky Education Council will appear on the show to offer parents information and suggest activities that may help prevent the “summer slump.” WVXU, in partnership with CET will continue to air its series of reports for American Graduate, including an upcoming interview with Greg Landsman, executive director of the Strive Partnership. The station is also producing a series of “Student Voices” based on interviews with local youth. In addition, they are working with students to contribute to the American Graduate/PBS NewsHour Pinterest board, “Why I Go To School.” Their Pinterest projects will be available here and will be posted to CET’s website and in social media.
WOSU offers a structured internship program, primarily with Western Illinois University. Students from the Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration program will participate in a full-time internship over 9-12 weeks that involves goals and objectives on organizing events. The interns are supervised by a site supervisor and an Academic supervisor and can earn college credit for their work.
Pennsylvania students go behind the camera to produce two documentaries on the dropout crisis
This summer, WHYY is hosting an American Graduate Summer Camp to provide high school students with hands-on video production experience. During the camp, participants will create two documentaries and a series of public service announcements addressing the dropout crisis in Philadelphia. Through the process of creating these videos, students will learn the basics of documentary film production: framing shots, conducting interviews, shooting video, recording audio and voice-overs, and editing on Final Cut Pro. WHYY staff will assist students, provide guidance and serve as executive producers.
In South Carolina, students are challenged with broadcasting, engineering internships
For the second summer in a row, SCETV will host the Youth Electronic Synching (Y.E.S.) project, which promotes civic engagement among African American male high school students through production of public service announcement videos for local non-profit organizations. This project was the offspring of an experimental class at A.C. Flora High School in Columbia, during which SCETV producers helped educate teachers about using video in their classrooms to improve the literacy skills of at-risk ninth-graders. One student said about the class, “I finally got to do something that I liked instead of just doing a lot of writing.” Another said, “This class makes kids feel a lot better about school and keeps them coming because it’s so much fun.” The station is planning a Civil Rights and Social Justice Youth Transmedia Summit in the fall that will bring at-risk high school students together with college students to meet civil rights leaders from South Carolina and surrounding areas to learn how to capture stories from their own communities. In addition, SCETV is offering internships to college students, providing an educational experience built on practical, hands-on training and challenging learning assignments in the areas of broadcasting, engineering, creative services (multimedia) and at SCETV’s regional stations.
Parent University in Tennessee teaches parents how to best support their children in school
Nashville Public Television is offering Parent University Workshops, a full day of free sessions where parents can learn more about the community resources that are available to them and how they can best support their children in school. Workshop topics include: drug awareness, bullying, being a parent in a social media world, Homework Hotline, college access, and helping children achieve academic success. The station is also producing two upcoming American Graduate documentaries – one about the graduation of immigrants and refugees and the other about successful solutions that are helping to increase graduation rates.
Virginia summer interns provide first-hand input into American Graduate work
WHRO’s summer interns will assist with production, writing stories and facilitating social media around American Graduate. The station is also working with a small group of teachers to develop lesson plans on digital video production that can be shared with teachers across the country.