On Wednesday, April 29, 2014 Mississippi Public Broadcasting staffers met with team members from Nine Network to discuss efforts to raise graduation rates in Mississippi through the American Graduate initiative. Nine Network is the public broadcasting TV network for St. Louis, Missouri and manages the American Graduate initiative.
The American Graduate initiative uses the network of public media stations to create awareness and find solutions to the dropout issue. MPB is a recipient of one of the 33 American Graduate grants to public media stations.
Nine Networks’ Aja Williams and Eddie Becton were in Jackson to evaluate MPB’s program and share best practices for the American Graduate program. MPB executive management team, department managers, and other staffers were on hand to discuss their roles and the various projects associated with American Graduate. Some of the topics/projects/achievements discussed include:
- Miss Mississippi 2014 Jasmine Murray is MPB’s American Graduate Champion. She has toured several Mississippi high schools speaking to at-risk-students. Murray is featured in videos developed by MPB’s production team where she is encouraging students to stay in school and graduate. The tours reached nearly 2,000 students attending schools with high dropout rates.
- Other American Graduate videos were produced and feature Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and Coach Dan Mullen talking about the importance of education; and Mississippi native/actress Aunjanue Ellis sharing her personal story.
- There are various MPB programs like Can I Kick It (CIKI) and the Summer Learning Event that focus on getting students involved in being champions of the “stay in school” message.
- MPB News and MPB Radio shows often focus on education in Mississippi. Several locally produced radio shows feature education topics several times a week. Just recently, MPB News produced an education segment on its popular @ISSUE television program.
- In addition to pushing the American Graduate message on Facebook and Twitter, where the audiences are older, MPB engages with students on social media platforms that are most appealing to them like Instagram and Snapchat.
- MPB has many community partners participating in this initiative – Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), Alignment Jackson/United Way, JPS. The MDE partnership helped to leverage the success of several events/programs like the school tours and the launch of a teacher education program.
MPB was able to highlight a variety of content and programs that are of high quality, showcase board and employee engagement, spotlight station partners, and discuss future plans for the American Graduate initiative. This was also an opportunity to learn from the Nine Network team how MPB can incorporate some best practices from other public broadcasting stations.