American Graduate looks back at 2015

Posted by Brendan Williams on

The past year has marked a great year of growth and progress for American Graduate.

Between thousands of hours of programming, community conversations, events and townhalls, public media stations have helped communities great strides toward improving the future of each student. In addition, we have had the opportunity to work with some amazing partner organizations.

Here’s just a recap of where American Graduate has been this past year, and we can’t wait to see what 2016 has to unveil.


The National Mentoring Summit 

Almost 1,000 leaders, advocates, researchers and mentors gathered at the summit in Washington D.C. and explored further the power of mentoring youth across the country. American Graduate continued to celebrate mentors and their contributions through our champions’ initiative.


United States hits 81% high school graduation rate 

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In February, the United States Department of Education announced the nation’s high school graduation rate had reached an all-time high of 81 percent in the 2012-2013 school year. States showing the biggest growth included Nevada, growing from 63 percent to 71 percent, and Alaska, growing from 75 percent to 80 percent.


180 Days: Hartsville examines school system in Hartsville, S.C.

In 180 Days: Hartsville, viewers experience a year in the life of one Southern town’s efforts to address the urgent demand for reform in American public schools, and watch what happens when the systems that can either fuel or diffuse that reform – bureaucracy, economic opportunity, and fixed mindsets – interact and intersect.


The achievement gap continued to close

According to data released by the United States Department of Education in March, minority students continued to close the achievement gap and increased their graduation rates. Between 2011 and 2013, graduation rates for blank and Hispanic students grew by 4 percentage points.


The Homestretch looks at homeless youth in Chicago


A film by PBS Independent Lens, The Homestretch follows three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and create a new life. Each of these smart, ambitious youths — Roque, Kasey, and Anthony — will surprise, inspire, and challenge audiences to rethink stereotypes of homelessness as they work to complete their educations while facing the trauma of being alone and abandoned at an early age. While told through a personal perspective, their stories connect with larger issues of poverty, race, juvenile justice, immigration, foster care, and LGBTQ rights.


United States is on track to hit a 90% graduation rate by 2020

In May, the Building a Grad Nation report, released by America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education, showed the U.S. is showing improvement toward the national goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate.


KLRU produced “An Eastside Education”

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In June, KLRU in Austin, Texas released a multimedia project entitled “An Eastside Education,” a six-part digital news project that follows one semester at the most talked about school in one of Austin’s oldest neighborhoods as teachers, parents, administrators, and students fight to meet state accountability standards or watch their school be closed.



American Graduate films received Emmy nominations

Among the 57 Emmy nominations garnered by PBS, a few were direct connections to American Graduate. POV’s “America’s Promise” received three nominations—for outstanding coverage of a current events news story-long form, best documentary, and outstanding editing. In addition, Independent Lens received nominations for “Medora” and “Bully.”


American Graduate rings the NASDAQ closing bell


Education was at the forefront of Nasdaq in August when representatives from American Graduate were invited to ring the closing bell for the American/Canadian stock exchange. The event took place ahead of American Graduate Day.


Report show importance of relationships in improving the chances for youth to graduate

A report released by America’s Promise Alliance in September highlighted the importance of adults being the key driver of support for helping youth succeed. “We found that relationships are powerful vehicles for growth, particularly for young people living in challenging conditions,” said John Gomperts, president & CEO of America’s Promise.


Twin Cities PBS Releases “Black Brilliance”


In September, TPT released “Black Brilliance,” a documentary in which five black high school seniors from Minnesota share their journeys to graduation: what it takes, what it means, and defining success on their own terms. The documentary had an amazing response from the community and several other media outlets picked up content from the project. 


American Graduate Day 2015 highlighted champions and their commitment to youth across the country

American Graduate Day 2015 celebrated more than 4.1 million American Graduate Champions across the country who are working in the 52 partner organizations featured and focused on helping youth stay on track to high school graduation. The broadcast reached 85% of US households and generated over 140 million Twitter impressions of the #AmGrad hashtag.


American Graduate participated in a White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools

In November, American Graduate had the opportunity to participate in the first-ever White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools. The Summit convened students, educators, philanthropists and entrepreneurs from across the country who identified ways in which American high schools can promote personalized learning, work-based learning experiences, deeper ties to post-secondary, and include a focus on expanding science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities for girls and other groups of students who are underrepresented in these high-growth, well-paying fields.

President Obama signs Every Student Succeeds Act

Congress and President Barack Obama moved quickly in passing the Every Student Succeeds Act, the successor to the No Child Left Behind Act. The new education legislation holds graduation rates as a determinant of success for schools across the country.


U.S. graduation rate climbs to 82%


The U.S. Department of Education proudly announced the nation hit a new high school graduation rate high of 82 percent in December. Alabama saw some terrific gains in the 2013-2014 school year, according to the data.