American Grad survey details support and challenges

By Dru Sefton

A new survey of more than 460 community partners in CPB’s American Graduate project found enthusiasm for the station-based dropout-prevention initiative as well as challenges to overcome.

The 66-page report, produced by the Civic Enterprises public-policy consulting firm and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, found that 74 percent of 145 responding partner organizations indicated their belief that public media “provided opportunities that will have a lasting effect on youth” through the initiative. Eighty-five percent said that public media will help tackle the problem in their community in the future by building “knowledge, capacity and engagement.”

The online survey was developed by the Hopkins center, CPB and Nine Network of Public Media, a lead station in the multi-year initiative. Participating stations located in high-need communities where dropout rates are critical identified partners to be included in the survey sample. The research concluded in August.

The report also details challenges that remain for the initiative. For example, less than a third of respondents agreed that American Graduate had enabled parents or caregivers to help children stay in high school through graduation. “Though many parents were touched by American Graduate activities, overall impact on families can be identified as an area for further development,” the report noted.

The report recommended that CPB fund future initiatives for at least three years because longer periods of support allow stations to plan, implement, and evaluate their initiatives, as well as demonstrate impact that would justify additional investment or establish sustainable funding.

Since launching the initiative in May 2011, CPB has awarded two-year grants totaling $3.3 million to 25 hub stations.

Another recommendation was aimed at participating stations, advising greater focus on cultivating partners that have access to new audiences, such as faith-based organizations and low-income families and youth.

This item was first published in Current, Nov. 4, 2013.

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