CPB launches $4.4 million, 20-station American Graduate program

CPB kicked off its American Graduate initiative Tuesday (May 3) at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The $4.4 million project aims to boost graduation rates in 20 communities nationwide, using multiplatform content for at-risk students and their teachers. Host Ray Suarez, a senior correspondent for PBS NewsHour and the event’s host, said the graduation rates among Hispanics and African-Americans was only about 54 percent in 2007. “”This is something we really don’t have an option to fix — we have to,” Suarez said.

Appearing were Hill Harper, star of CSI:NY, a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School; he also wrote the best-selling Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny. Actress America Ferrera, best known for Ugly Betty, talked about her mother’s anger when Ferrera’s sister was told “not to bother” with applying for college because she was Hispanic. Aimee Garcia of  The George Lopez Show discussed the need for total community involvement for graduation success.

In the photo, Suarez leads a station panel in a discussion of the initiative. From left, Tom Axtell of Vegas PBS, Beth Curley of Nashville Public Television, Ron Thorpe of WNET and Michael Jones of PBS. (Image: Current)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support the effort through CPB’s Teacher Town Halls and the StoryCorps National Teachers Initiative.

The event is archived on the project’s Facebook page.

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