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Posted by Jennifer Cook on

ORLANDO, FL —WUCF TV has been awarded a $200,000 American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen community service grant from The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to help Central Florida improve youth outcomes for all students from preschool through college and onto careers. The nation’s graduation rate is at 80%, yet significant “graduation gaps” still exist for students of different races, ethnicities, family incomes, and disabilities, as well as those with limited English proficiency.  In Central Florida, graduation rate is 78%, with the biggest gaps existing within Orange and Volusia counties.

“I congratulate WUCF on being one of a select few to have been awarded this competitive grant with the mission of providing Central Florida’s at-risk children a chance to achieve academic success,” said Congressman John Mica.  “We all join the UCF community in their goal of ensuring that all children, regardless of background, have every opportunity to achieve their dreams and full potential.”

Kicking off as students across Central Florida head back to school, WUCF will work with the community over the next two years to increase understanding about the challenges for at-risk youth and work with a network of partners to help develop and illuminate long term solutions emphasizing the importance of a strong foundation in early education and the need for consistent caring adults. Stations will highlight local leaders who are helping communities increase graduation rates and the everyday heroes in a child’s life who are committed to improving education outcomes as “American Graduate Champions.” The initiative will feature new locally produced content alongside national productions and classroom resources – including PBS NewsHour’s new education desk, American Graduate Day, 180 Days: Hartsville, and the youth-driven spoken word contest RAISE UP!, along with PBS Learning Media and PBS Kids assets. WUCF is part of the national American Graduate initiative in partnership with 33 other public media stations around the country.

“WUCF TV is proud to make a difference in the Central Florida community as part of the American Graduate program,” said Polly Anderson, WUCF TV General Manager. “Creating innovative, inspiring, and informative content is at the heart of what we do across Central Florida.  WUCF TV will bring heightened visibility and awareness, along with the power and reach of public media to find solutions to improve lives of young people across the area.”

In addition, WUCF has received a $10,000 grant to Newman’s Own Foundation to increase philanthropic support to support the station’s local education service and sustain the American Graduate initiative.

“Education is at the core of public media’s mission. Through American Graduate stations’ partnerships with over 1000 local organizations, we are proud of public media’s content and on the ground engagement that has raised awareness to achieve 80% graduation rates nationally and helped America see the potential in every student,” said Pat Harrison, CPB President and CEO. “By strengthening our focus on solutions, starting with our youngest learners, and highlighting local leaders who are creating sustainable change, together, we can set kids – and our country – on a path for long term success.”

Over the next two years, the American Graduate initiative will be a primary focus of WUCF’s educational engagement in Central Florida. The station will be working on-air, online and in the community to increase awareness and help implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. Through a cradle-to-career approach, the station will convene a taskforce of community leaders to help facilitate greater collaboration among organizations that serve youth of all ages. This taskforce will help inform a series of on-air segments and online resources for the benefit of students across our nine-county service area. WUCF also expects to share stories of success from our region and highlight organizations positively impacting graduation rates in Central Florida.

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.

About American Graduate

American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen was launched in 2011 with 25 public media stations in high need communities to spotlight the high school dropout crisis and focus on middle and high school student interventions.  Today, more than 80 public radio and television stations in over 30 states have partnered with over 1000 community organizations and schools, as well as Alma and Colin Powell's America's Promise Alliance, Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Alliance for Excellent Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation to help the nation achieve a 90% graduation by 2020.

With primetime and children’s programming that educates, informs, and inspires public radio and television stations — locally owned and operated — are important resources in helping to address critical issues facing today’s communities. According to a report from the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, American Graduate stations have told the story about the dropout crisis in a way that empowered citizens to get involved, and helped community organizations break down silos to work more effectively together. 

In early 2014, CPB and PBS KIDS committed an additional $20 million for the “American Graduate PBS KIDS Fund” to also help communities connect the importance of early learning as part of a student’s long term success. In addition to station grants for local engagement, the Fund will support the creation of children’s content and tools to help parents, particularly those from low income communities, better prepare their young children for long term success. Fourteen American Graduate station grantees have also been awarded CPB early education grants to reach children ages 2-8 with programming and services developed through the Ready to Learn Initiative, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education.