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As a PBS KIDS VIP we were invited to Miami to their Annual Meeting. Throughout this educational, interesting, and fun meeting, we learned a lot about what PBS stands for as a broadcasting station and sincerely fell in love with them. I now watch these shows in a whole new light and know that my kids are truly learning what PBS has poured their heart into— Education. You can learn more about our experience at the PBS Annual Meeting and why we stand behind them and their shows by reading this article.

On the last day of the Annual Meeting we had the privilege of attending a lunch that was centered around the American Graduate. Walking into this lunch not only did I not know what American Graduate was, I didn’t realize the impact it would leave on me. Being a Hispanic child and growing up in a culture similar to many Hispanics, we grew up without cable. My grandparents left their country at a young age, dropped out of school by 12 years old , without the basic knowledge of how to read and write, which meant they worked hard their whole lives unable to retire. Many Hispanics (as well as other nationalities), even in today’s society, are forced with the decision to finish high school or quit school to work full-time to provide for their family. Many of their parents do not know English and are struggling to make ends meet. The children of these parents feel it is their duty to their family to work hard outside of school to help put food on the table. For many, the thought of college has never crossed their mind and what having an higher education can do for them and their families in the long run.

92% of students believe they will graduate from high school, but only 7 out of 10 will actually graduate. They just need our support to find the way. Public Media brings communities together to help every American Graduate. That is the sole focus and why American Graduate was created.

American Graduate, which airs on PBS September 22, 2013, is a public media initiative to investigate the dropout issue, highlight solutions and raise graduation rates.

Today’s global economy demands a more educated workforce. Communities are working together to improve 21st century learning and increase high school graduation rates to prepare more students for college and successful careers. Public media stations across the country are at the center of this community-based work providing quality content, forums, and classroom resources to build local capacity for long term success.

American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen is a long term public media commitment, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), to help communities implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. Public media plays a significant role building individual activity, community capacity, and national awareness. The dropout crisis demands attention now, and we are rising to the challenge of doing our part to address this problem.

During the lunch we met two students. One who was a homeless teen in New York who never thought about college before and whose main focus was to drop out of high school to work full-time to help her family. The other teen, from Southern California, was surrounded by gangs and was either going to end up dead or do something with his life. Both their stories left me in tears and being able to hear them speak and where they are now left me so proud to call myself a Hispanic. You can learn more about these two teens and their journey when American Graduate airs.

A nice surprise during the lunch was getting to hear Wilmer Valderrama speak. You may recognize him as Fez from That 70’s Show and the voice of Manny from Handy Manny.

We have been huge fans of his since That 70’s Show and hearing him speak from his heart and why he stands behind this show grew an utmost respect for him. Here is a clip from his speech:

The dropout crisis is real and it is time we take a stance to end it. We encourage you to join PBS and American Graduate as they focus to meet the national goal of 90% graduation rate by 2020.

You can learn more about American Graduate, the dropout crisis and their initiative by visiting: www.americangraduate.org.

For a list of stations by state, visit:
www.cpb.org/americangraduate