AmGrad and CPB Logos_RGB_CS5



March 21, 2012

WXXI Tackles Dropout Crisis in Rochester   

New Public Media Programming and Public Engagement Initiatives to Help Students and Teachers

Rochester, NY – WXXI has initiated a series of broadcasts, online and community activities as part of “American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen,” a national public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to help Rochester and other communities across America to address the high school dropout crisis.

Every year 1 million kids drop out of high school nationwide. In the Greater Rochester, 5-county region, 3,400 students dropped out in 2010. The estimated economic impact on the region is a projected loss of $6.2 million in increased tax revenues and a projected $38 million in earnings if all of these students had graduated. This is according to a study by the Alliance for Excellent Education. 1

Education has always been at the center of public broadcasting,” said Norm Silverstein, WXXI President.  “That’s why we are proud to be a part of this important national initiative and are honored to work with the local community to make sure Rochester’s students stay in school and graduate. We cannot allow a generation of our young people to fall through the cracks.”

WXXI is one of more than 60 public media and television stations around the country that are working directly with their communities to address the dropout crisis. WXXI and “American Graduate” project partners, Rochester Mentors and 2-1-1 of the Finger Lakes Region have developed a blend of media across several platforms – TV, radio, online – and community engagement efforts designed to raise public awareness, provide community pathways to resources, and offer solutions to increase Rochester area high school graduation rates.

 “Every year, one million of our nation’s young people make the life altering decision to drop out of school resulting in severe consequences for their future and our country,” said Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of CPB.  “Through the ‘American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen’ initiative, America’s public radio and television stations – locally owned and operated – are engaging local  non-profit partners, business leaders, parents and teachers to help young people stay on the path to a high school diploma.”

Rochester’s “American Graduate” initiative began in September 2011 with a Need to Know Rochester television special on the plight of black male students in the Rochester City School District. The Rochester City School Board hosted a public screening of the program in October 2011 with a Q&A session facilitated by WXXI News Director Julie Philipp. In December, WXXI News presented The Dropout Dilemma, a live television American Graduate town hall meeting co-hosted by WXXI’s Helene Biandudi and WDKX’s Tariq Spence. The program explored how the Rochester City School District’s high dropout rate impacts the Greater Rochester community.  Participants examined the issue from many perspectives, including the social and economic impact on the region.  In addition to a panel of community leaders, young people and staff from the Center for Teen Empowerment shared their thoughts about how the dropout crisis affects their lives and neighborhoods. WXXI’s Homework Hotline tackled the topic with a 6-part series that aired in November and December to communicate to students the issues related to dropping out and the resources and strategies for staying in school. At the heart of raising public awareness about the issue is programming broadcast on WXXI-TV/HD, AM 1370/FM-HD 91.5-2. These programs include documentaries, NPR and PBS NewsHour specials, and ongoing WXXI News reports and 1370 Connection educational programs. All of the reports and programs are available on-demand at WXXI’s American Graduate website at <>.The website also provides community pathways to resources for students and ways to learn more and get involved through mentoring or other volunteer outreach.

To keep students engaged and enthusiastic about learning, WXXI provides resources to support schools, families and out of school programs.  Resources are all available from the WXXI Education Outreach Center at and include:

  • VITAL On-Demand Video & Multimedia Curricular System, free to all schools in New York State
  • WXXI Kids Online Games and Videos
  • Homework Hotline, a daily live call-in series and website available to help all New York State students with their homework and learning new problem solving strategies
  • Training for hundreds of teachers, parents, and caregivers in the use of public media to engage thousands of students in their care
  • Informal family education events attended by tens of thousands of people
  • Role-playing History Game Series: Mission US
  • Academic Contests: PBS Kids Go Writers Contest, STEM Video Game Challenge
  • Monthly e-newsletters and daily social media highlights for parents and teachers
  • 15 hours per day of educational programming developed for children and students
1 Alliance for Excellent Education, “Education and the Economy: Boosting the Economy in the Rochester, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area by Improving High School Graduation Rates” (April, 2011).

About American Graduate
The public media initiative, American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, is helping communities across America identify and implement solutions to address the high school dropout crisis. Supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the multi-year campaign is designed to raise awareness and dialogue through national and local multiplatform programming.  Targeting communities with highest dropout rates, the initiative also increases local engagement and action through collaborations and partnerships, and increases student engagement through teacher professional development and classroom curricula. Public radio and television stations – locally owned and operated – reach 99% of the country over the air, have built models for successful intervention in early learning, and have deep connections in the communities they serve. Nearly 300 partnerships have been formed locally through American Graduate and CPB is partnering with America's Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Visit American Graduate on Facebook, Twitter or

About WXXI
WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. The formal affiliation between WXXI and the Little Theatre, established in December 2011, enables the two organizations to work more efficiently by pooling resources and strengths in a number of areas including back-office operation and improved fundraising capabilities. Log on to for more information about our services and programs.

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,300 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

Kristin Tutino, WXXI, 585-258-0253/259-5884,


Press Release Index