The American Graduate initiative is public media’s long-term commitment, made possible by CPB, to help young people succeed in school, career and life. Public media, with its unique position as a trusted resource and important partner in local communities, provides a critical platform to shine a light on pathways to graduation and successful student outcomes.

About American Graduate (2020)

National and local reporting, public forums and town halls are helping communities understand the challenges and solutions associated with education and future success. From 2011-2018, American Graduate has provided grants to local public media stations to facilitate dialogue in high-need communities around solutions to improve educational outcomes for youth on the path to graduation. For the last 8 years, over 125 public media stations have engaged more than 1,700 partners and inspired more than 9,000 adults to become “American Graduate Champions” -- committed and caring mentors who provide support and encouragement to young people. In 2017, the national high school graduation rate rose to an unprecedented 84.6%, and a recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics, "Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2019," shows that for the first time in 40 years, African American 18-to-24-year-olds completed high school in 2017 at a rate on par with white youth of the same age. The graduation gap between white and Hispanic students also decreased significantly.

"Public media stations - as trusted communicators, conveners, and capacity builders in local communities - help citizens understand the complex factors at play and what works in keeping students on track to graduate," stated John Bridgeland, founder and CEO of Civic. "The work by American Graduate stations and the leadership from CPB has been vital to our nation's progress on the local, state and national levels."

However achieving a high school diploma is just the first step toward a future of gainful employment and career opportunity.  While the overall unemployment rate in the Unites States is now 4%, the unemployment rate of those aged 16-24 is 10%. In 2018, the next phase of the initiative was launched, “American Graduate: Getting To Work,” in response to the skills gap. CPB awarded grants to 19 public media stations to focus on the talent needs for the nation’s future workforce and increase awareness in young adults and the people who influence them (parents, caregivers, guidance counselors, educators) of the education and training pathways to high-demand skilled careers.

Nationally, CPB is working with organizations such as the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance to build understanding and awareness, and highlight the solutions driven by schools and businesses. Stations are bringing together key stakeholders, leaders and engaged citizens to discuss opportunities and challenges, and create compelling local content with young people sharing their successes as they pursue new careers. Content airs on the station’s local channel, online or through social media, and is also distributed through local partner organizations and across the public media network.

How Stations Are Approaching This Work:

Station Approach

Getting to Work Station Grants

  • Alabama Public Television (Birmingham)
  • Alaska Public Media (Anchorage)
  • Cincinnati Educational Television (Cincinnati)
  • Connecticut Public (Hartford)
  • Idaho Public Television (Boise)
  • ideastream (Cleveland)
  • KCPT (Kansas City)
  • Kentucky Educational Television (Lexington)
  • KLRU (Austin)
  • KUEN (Salt Lake City)
  • Mississippi Public Broadcasting (Jackson)
  • Nine Network of Public Media (St. Louis)
  • PBS Charlotte (Charlotte)
  • Vegas PBS (Las Vegas)
  • West Virginia Public Broadcasting (Charleston)
  • WFSU (Tallahassee)
  • WHRO (Norfolk)
  • WOSU (Columbus)
  • WXXI (Rochester)

Learn more about American Graduate at: facebook/AmericanGraduate.