CPB adds $6.2 million in American Graduate grants, reveals national broadcast plans

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American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, CPB’s dropout prevention initiative, announced Wednesday another $6.2 million in grants to 33 stations and unveiled plans for a third daylong national broadcast produced by New York’s WNET.

The funding targets communities where graduation is especially low among students of diverse races, ethnicities, incomes and disabilities, and where students struggle with limited English skills.

A WNET camera crew captures kids interacting at the Children’s Discovery Center at the Queens Library for a segment that aired on last year’s American Graduate Day broadcast. The center features hands-on educational exhibits for visitors ages 3 to 12 years old. (Photo: Mike Kostel/WNET)

A WNET camera crew captures kids at the Queens Library Children’s Discovery Center for a segment that aired on last year’s American Graduate Day broadcast. The center features hands-on educational exhibits for visitors ages 3 to 12. (Photo: Mike Kostel, WNET)

In addition, 20 stations will receive a total of $200,000 from Newman’s Own Foundation, the late actor Paul Newman’s charity, to bolster outreach for American Graduate–related donations.

The support is the latest infusion to the initiative that CPB announced with an initial $4.4 million grant in 2011 and ramped up with $20 million and a PBS partnership earlier this year.

“Education is at the core of public media’s mission,” said CPB President Pat Harrison in Wednesday’s announcement, adding that more than 1,000 organizations are partnering with stations in American Graduate work nationwide. “We are proud of public media’s content and on the ground engagement that has raised awareness to achieve 80 percent graduation rates nationally and helped America see the potential in every student.”

The two-year CPB grants, ranging from $100,000 to $200,000, will support station efforts to raise awareness of the dropout problem and their work within communities to develop long-term solutions. With the cash, stations also will highlight “American Graduate Champions” with stories of individuals who have worked to make a difference in graduation rates. Stations will also produce local and national content and classroom resources. Nine Network in St. Louis continues to lead station work as American Graduate executive producer.

The stations receiving CPB grants are Alabama Public Television, Birmingham; PBS SoCal, Orange County, Calif.; Colorado Public Television, Denver; WHUT, Washington, D.C.; WFSU, Tallahassee, Fla.; WTTW, Chicago; Kentucky Educational Television, Lexington; Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Baton Rouge; Maryland Public Television, Owings Mills; Detroit Public Television; Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Jackson; New Mexico PBS, Albuquerque; KNPB, Reno, Nev.; Vegas PBS; WSKG, Binghamton, N.Y.; WXXI, Rochester, N.Y.; CET, Cincinnati; WVIZ, Cleveland; WHYY, Philadelphia; South Carolina ETV, Columbia; Nashville Public Television; WCTE, Cookeville, Tenn.; KLRU, Austin, Texas; Utah Education Network, Salt Lake City; WHRO, Norfolk, Va.; WUCF, Orlando, Fla.; WFYI, Indianapolis; KAET, Phoenix; WGBY, Springfield, Mass.; Twin Cities Public Television, St. Paul, Minn.; Public Broadcasting Atlanta; WNET, New York; and KBTC, Tacoma, Wash.

The Newman’s Own grants go to 20 stations that applied for the additional funding, backing fundraising events, major-gift outreach and content to encourage community philanthropic support for American Graduate work.

Nationally, WNET will broadcast and stream its third American Graduate Day live from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time Sept. 27. The marathon aims to inspire viewers to connect with local stations and community organizations to help young people graduate.

Nearly 100 public TV stations aired the special last year, reaching some 1 million television households, according to WNET.

Hosting from the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center will be Wes Moore, best-selling author and U.S. Army veteran. Celebrity interviews will include singer Tony Bennett and his wife Susan Benedetto on the importance of the arts; former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife Alma talking about their education advocacy organization, America’s Promise Alliance; NBC News Anchor Brian Williams and his family discussing their two-decade support of Horizons National, an educational enrichment program for low-income students; and athletes CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees and Olympic track gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee speaking for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Moderators include Juju Chang, co-anchor of Nightline on ABC; NBC News Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis; Yahoo! News anchor Bianna Golodryga; and Hari Sreenivasan, anchor of PBS NewsHour Weekend.

Discussions will cover such issues as early education, special needs, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) programs and college and career readiness. The program will also highlight “Stories of Champions” in 14 one-minute segments about people who are successfully keeping students focused on graduation.

The seven-hour program “gives us the chance to highlight the remarkable individuals, mentors and organizations at the heart of every community and to present their inspiring stories — which make a compelling case for investing in the future of America’s children,” said WNET President Neal Shapiro in an announcement.

Viewers and online visitors who want to connect with local organizations may text during the broadcast or go to AmericanGraduate.org to find out how to help in their hometowns. Viewers will also be invited to participate on Facebook and via Twitter using the #AmGrad hashtag.

Questions, comments, tips? sefton@current.org