Washington, DC - The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), along with a number of public media outlets, has launched a significant public media initiative to help improve our nation’s high school graduation rates. Every year, more than 1 million students drop out of high school. If that trend continues, over the next 10 years, it will cost the nation more than $3 trillion in lost wages, productivity and taxes. American Graduate expands on public media’s record of success in early childhood education to reach students in middle school -- a critical point when the disengagement that leads to dropping out in high school often begins.

Local public radio and television stations are at the core of this initiative and are uniquely positioned to educate and engage various stakeholders on the dropout problem, rally support and help coordinate efforts in communities, something experts say is crucial to a solution. These stations, located in 20 community “hubs” where the dropout crisis is most acute, will provide their resources and services to raise awareness, 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.

“Public radio and television stations are deeply rooted in the communities they serve, and they have demonstrated time and again that they are an important resource in helping to address critical issues, such as the mortgage crisis, at the local level,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB. “Through American Graduate, public media will ‘make it happen’ by helping communities take on a new challenge – high school graduation rates – to create a more promising future for our children, the economy and the entire nation.”

CPB will initially grant $4.4 million to the 20 market hubs, which serve as the core of community interest and activity around high school graduation rates. As many as 40 more markets will receive grants through the National Center for Media Engagement. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through support to CPB’s Teacher Town Halls and the StoryCorps National Teachers Initiative, will give teachers a way to share their perspectives and experiences with helping all students graduate high school prepared for college and careers.

To learn more about the initiative, visit the American Graduate on Facebook.