American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen is a long term public media commitment launched in 2011 with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to help communities implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. Working with Alma and Colin Powell's America's Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center, and The Alliance for Excellent Education, and over 1,000 local partners, the initiative puts faces on the numbers and increases understanding of the risks and solutions.



The Problem

1.3 million kids drop out of high school per year, costing our nation more than $100 billion annually in lost wages and taxes, plus the increased social costs due to crime and healthcare.

Experts estimate that American businesses are in need of 97 million middle- and high-skill workers, yet only 45 million Americans possess the necessary education and skills to qualify for these positions. The majority of job openings in the next decade will require at least some postsecondary education.

Public Media Response

Public broadcasting has a long history improving educational outcomes for high-need students and communities. The dropout crisis demands attention now, and we are rising to the challenge of doing our part to address this problem.

We are working with national and community-based partners to do two things—raise awareness by creating targeted, national and local content on all facets of the issue for broadcast, and engage and empower students at risk of dropping out through community collaborations and classroom resources.

The initiative puts faces on the numbers — the more than 1.3 million young people who fail to graduate each year — and generates understanding about the risk factors and what caring adults can do to help.

Success can't be achieved by any one group alone but public media can leverage its capacity, on-air, online, and on-the-ground, to increase understanding and dialogue around the issues facing today’s students that cause them to drop out and mobilize local communities to develop and implement impactful solutions.

Local Impact

American Graduate demonstrates public media's commitment to education and its deep roots in every community it serves. Beyond providing programming that educates, informs and inspires, public radio and television stations — locally owned and operated — are an important resource in helping to address critical issues, such as the dropout rate.

Thanks to the federal investment in public broadcasting through CPB, 68 stations - including WHRO - are working directly with more than 300 community partners to develop locally-based solutions and media content to engage parents, teachers, mentors, volunteers and business leaders, and help keep high school students on a path to college and career.

American Graduate content can be accessed for free by all Americans and, like so much of the content found across public television and radio — on air and online — directly benefits our civil society.

National Reach

National programming has built awareness about the dropout crisis and aired on PBS NewsHour, Tavis Smiley Reports, StoryCorps, and Weekend Edition. Still more resources are available on the national American Graduate website