Initiative Includes Local and National Programming and Targeted Community Engagement


(St. Louis, Mo) – November 7, 2011 — The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) today launches a series of local engagement activities in support of American Graduate:  Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative made possible by CPB, in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to help communities in 35 states address the dropout crisis.

The initiative will kick off with an American Graduate Teacher Town Hall in St. Louis, the first of 12 in cities across the country. The event, hosted by the Nine Network of Public Media (KETC)  in St. Louis, brings together more than 100 local teachers to discuss the realities they face in their classrooms. PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Gwen Ifill will moderate the town hall, which will be broadcast this evening at 7 p.m. on the Nine Network and will be available online at

A second Teacher Town Hall, hosted by Detroit Public Television (DPTV), will be held on November 18.  Hari Sreenivasan, PBS NewsHour correspondent, will moderate the discussion.

“We need to care about America’s young people and the repercussions to our country when, on an annual basis, one million boys and girls make the life altering decision to drop out of school. These are kids who start out with great hope and give up. But we are not giving up on them,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB. “Through the American Graduate initiative, the nation’s locally owned and community-connected public media stations are bringing together parents, teachers, business leaders, students and nonprofit organizations to encourage young people to stay on a productive path from diploma to career.”

American Graduate Teacher Town Halls were created with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Nine Network is overseeing the American Graduate initiative and helping public media stations coordinate activities in 20 regional “hub” communities where the dropout crisis is most acute. The National Center for Media Engagement will work with an additional 41 stations around the country.

Jack Galmiche, president and CEO of the Nine Network, said, “Local public radio and television stations will be at the core of this initiative. Together with schools and organizations already addressing the dropout crisis, the stations will align these community resources and services to raise awareness and understanding, coordinate action with community partners, and work directly with students, parents, teachers, mentors, volunteers and leaders to lower the dropout rate in their respective communities. We’re honored that the Nine Network was selected to lead this important work on behalf of participating stations and community partners.”

American Graduate builds on public media’s long-standing commitment to education and deep involvement in local communities.  Public media stations in the hub communities will work with schools, nonprofit agencies and community organizations to both increase awareness and understanding of the dropout crisis and to empower students, teachers, parents and community leaders to intervene in the most troubled schools and help students who are most at risk.

National public media producers are also developing a wide range of compelling on-air and online content to focus greater attention on the dropout crisis, including:

  • PBS NewsHour will embark on an aggressive 18-month initiative to produce stories pertaining to the high school retention crisis from the American Graduate hubs.  PBS NewsHour will also expand Student Reporting Labs to challenge students to report, problem solve and investigate important topics.
  • Roadtrip Nation, the public television series and outreach movement that engages and trains youth, will develop toolkits, locally customized station community portals and conduct road trips and interviews in American Graduate hub markets.
  • StoryCorps’ National Teachers Initiative is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It HappenMany of the conversations recorded as part of the National Teachers Initiative will reflect the diverse experiences of educators and students from both rural and urban school districts with high dropout rates. StoryCorps will record and preserve the stories of more than 625 teachers across the nation in the 2011-2012 school year. 
  • StoryCorpsU is an interactive, standards-based college-readiness curriculum that uses StoryCorps content and interviewing techniques to enhance students’ skills in the areas of speaking, listening, writing and critical thinking.  StoryCorpsU has been piloted in New York City during the 2010-11 school year and will roll out nationally in 2011-12 in New York City, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis.

Additional local and national content producers include: The Takeaway, Youth Radio, Frontline, Native America Calling, among others. 

About CPB

CPB is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 and is steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting.  It helps support the operation of more than 1,300 locally-owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services. 

About American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen

American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across the country address the dropout crisis. CPB, in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is working with public media stations in 20 “Hub Markets” where the dropout crisis is most acute to raise awareness of the issue and coordinate action with community partners –all with the goal of helping students stay on course to graduate from high school.