CPB Media Room

Public Media Stations Launch Youth Media Projects as Part of “American Graduate” Initiative to Address Dropout Crisis

  • March 8, 2012

Stations in Alabama, Cincinnati, New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, Minneapolis, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Albany, NY, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. Train Students to Use Video, Digital Storytelling, and Other Multimedia Tools

Washington, D.C. – Public media stations across the country are partnering with local schools to launch youth media projects that will encourage students to become more engaged and stay in school. The projects are part of “American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen,” an initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to help communities keep students in school until they graduate.

“Each year, one out of every four high school students does not graduate. Helping our kids stay on track for a bright future and reducing the dropout rate is a community priority with national implications,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB. “Public media stations around the country are working closely with their communities to identify tools to engage our young adults, resources to teach them new skills and opportunities to talk with educators and respond to their concerns about the future.”

In recent years, education policy experts have emphasized 21st century skills—problem solving, media, information and technology skills, and interpersonal skills—that are essential for success in today’s job market. Research also indicates that students who are involved in afterschool programs are almost three times as likely to graduate from high school as those who are not.

American Graduate youth media projects have been designed with this in mind, using multimedia tools to foster greater academic engagement, teach technical media skills in group settings, and give students a platform to communicate about the dropout crisis, all in a safe and constructive afterschool environment. Among the national projects are PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs, which give students an opportunity to connect with public broadcasting professionals in their communities. These journalists mentor students using an innovative curriculum and an online collaborative space to develop digital media, critical thinking and communication skills, while producing original news reports for PBS NewsHour Extra.

Public media stations that have recently launched local American Graduate youth media projects or are launching projects in the coming months include: APT (Alabama); CET (Cincinnati); KNME (New Mexico); KQED (San Francisco); PBS SoCal (Los Angeles); WHUT (Washington, D.C.); KACV (Amarillo, Texas); North Carolina Public Radio; Twin Cities Public Television (St. Paul, MN); WGBY (Springfield, MA); WMMT (Whitesburg, KY); and WMHT (Albany, NY):

  • Alabama Public Television (APT) is co-sponsoring a youth video contest, “How We Achieve Excellence in Our Schools,” with the Alabama Association of School Boards. The top three entries will be posted at www.alabamaschoolboards.org, and the winning entry will be posted on www.aptv.org and considered for broadcast. Videos will also be posted on the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab website and on APT’s American Graduate website. APT will use the videos in presentations about American Graduate to State Board of Education and other community events.
  • CET in Cincinnati plans to provide teachers with professional development opportunities in digital storytelling and 21st century skills to help them establish youth media labs in middle school classrooms around the city. Next year, CET will participate in PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting program.
  • KNME in New Mexico is partnering with its local Media Arts Collaborative Charter School and the State’s Attorney General’s office on truancy to help students create anti-truancy messages aimed at families with very young children. The messages will be posted on the KNME website.
  • KQED in San Francisco is partnering with the Bay Area Video Coalition and its Factory Films and Bump Records programs to offer summer internships to approximately 10 students who will create video segments and five original songs focused on the issue of dropping out.
  • PBS SoCal in Southern California, in collaboration with KLCS and L.A. Unified School District, is connecting youth through a student Public Service Announcement contest focused on dropping out and personal stories. These stories will be included in the California Student Media Festival, a statewide event that PBS SoCal runs in partnership with CUE (Computer Using Educators).
  • WHUT in Washington, D.C. hosts a Digital Media Arts Club, held in conjunction with the National Black Programming Consortium’s Public Media Corps. The club is held at five D.C. public schools where students meet twice weekly after school to learn about video production, social media and presentation development using Prezi and Animoto. They also learn how to operate Flip Cameras and use iMovie and other digital media tools. WHUT is working with Double the Numbers to encourage students to create video pieces and music videos related to the dropout crisis.
  • KACV in Amarillo, Texas, launched a contest in which students created video messages encouraging classmates to stay in school. Contest winners have since worked with staff at the station to edit their videos into Public Service Announcements that will be broadcast this spring. Students submitted a total of 41 videos, which the Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) will use as part of a district-wide messaging program later this year. Videos are posted on kacv.org/graduate.
  • North Carolina Public Radio, together with Durham Nativity Middle School, is conducting weekly meetings of its Youth Radio Club, which started in August. Middle school students in the club learn media production skills and interviewing techniques. Station staff members lead the classes and help students produce on-air stories. The stories that are aired are also posted as audio files on the station's American Graduate site.
  • Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., in St. Paul, Minn., is broadcasting a series of dropout prevention interstitials produced in partnership with MN Alliance with Youth, and co-produced with youth.
  • Connecting Point, which airs on WGBY in Springfield, Mass., 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. Their content was also shown at a community screening on December 14. That and other work from students is posted on the project’s Facebook page.
  • WMMT in Whitesburg, KY., is working with 12 high school students who will 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 will use these stories to facilitate conversations around dropout prevention in the community. Two advanced interns produced a long-form documentary on the issue. All of these pieces were aired on WMMT-FM, followed by an hour-long interview/call-in program and a community presentation in Appalshop’s theater. The work was presented in listening sessions at partner schools and podcast on Appalshop’s website.
  • WMHT in New York State's Capital Region partnered with the Tamarac Middle-High School where students in both middle and high school were interviewed by their peers about the dropout issue. Their thoughts were recorded and will eventually become part of the WMHT American Graduate website. Students in TV/Media classes made two Public Service Announcements that directed viewers to the American Graduate page on the WMHT website for a link to resources.

About American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen

The public media initiative, American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, is helping communities across America identify and implement solutions to address the high school dropout crisis. Supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the multi-year campaign is designed to raise awareness and dialogue through national and local multiplatform programming. Targeting communities with highest dropout rates, the initiative also increases local engagement and action through collaborations and partnerships, and increases student engagement through teacher professional development and classroom curricula. Public radio and television stations – locally owned and operated – reach 99% of the country over the air, have built models for successful intervention in early learning, and have deep connections in the communities they serve. Nearly 300 partnerships have been formed locally through American Graduate and CPB is partnering with America's Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Visit American Graduate on Facebook, Twitter or AmericanGraduate.org.

About CPB

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