Public Media Initiative, American Graduate, Helped Improve Graduation Success Among Black and Latino Students

Public Media’s National and Local Content Put a Spotlight on the Issue and Community Connections Inspired Volunteerism with Youth and Education Resources in Classrooms

Jan 21, 2020

For over nine years, the public media initiative American Graduate, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), has worked successfully to help young people, predominately black and Hispanic students, stay on the path to a high school diploma. Through programming and partnerships with over 1700 organizations, public media stations in nearly every state helped communities understand what students needed to graduate. The American Graduate initiative inspired citizens to mentor these young people, helping them overcome great obstacles and ultimately graduate from high school. In 2017, the national high school graduation rate rose to an unprecedented level and now a new 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 18-to-24-year-olds. The graduation gap between white and Hispanic students also decreased significantly.

“These results affirm that our nation’s young people, with the support of a caring adult, can succeed in school and beyond,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB. “The nation’s public media stations, locally owned and connected to the communities they serve, have made a profound positive difference in the lives of so many young Americans of all backgrounds.”

The national graduation rate was 79% in 2011, with African American and Hispanic students comprising some of the lowest completion rates. As a result of the steadfast commitment of initiatives around the country, such as American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, the national graduation rate rose to 84.6% in 2017 as reported in the 2019 Building A Grad Nation Report.

Through American Graduate, CPB provided grants to stations in states with the highest proportion of black students who had been failing to graduate, including Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Alabama Public Television, Georgia Public Broadcasting, Maryland Public Television, South Carolina Educational Television, Nashville Public Television, Nine Network of Public Media (St. Louis) and Florida Public Media.

"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."

In addition to national partners, including America’s Promise Alliance, Civic, Johns Hopkins University School of Education and Alliance for Excellence in Education, local stations through content and engagement raised awareness and inspired American Graduate Champions to work with youth. CPB  supported national programming such as All the Difference, produced by Wes Moore in partnership with POV, which followed two black teens from Chicago on their journey to graduate from college; and Los Graduados, produced by Bernardo Ruiz in association with ITVS and Latino Public Broadcasting, which explored challenges faced by Latino high schools students.

CPB is now providing American Graduate: Getting to Work grants to public media stations to help young people prepare for and connect to jobs and careers.

American Graduate highlight, by Nine Network of Public Media

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit www.cpb.org and follow us on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebookLinkedIn, and subscribe for other updates.

About American Graduate

American Graduate is public media’s long-term commitment to supporting community-based solutions to help young people succeed in school, career and life. Supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), more than 125 public television and radio stations have joined forces with over 1,700 partners to elevate the stories of youth and the supportive adults that help them succeed. Through American Graduate, 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. National and local reporting, on air and online is helping communities understand the challenges and community-driven solutions associated with education and future successes. Public forums, town halls and community conversations are activating discussions between community leaders, educators and more.

Categories: American Graduate