WEDU PBS is working alongside five other Florida stations to help communities address the high school dropout crisis. 92% of students believe they will graduate from high school, but only 7 out of 10 will actually graduate. They have the will. They just need our support to find the way.

American Graduate Day 2014

Tune in September 27 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

American Graduate Day 2014 returns for its third consecutive year. Wes Moore, best-selling author and U.S. Army veteran ("Coming Back with Wes Moore"), will host the all-day broadcast on Sept. 27 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Live from the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in New York City, the national, seven-hour multi-platform broadcast event focuses on the individuals and organizations working in communities across the country to keep students on the path to graduation.

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Stories of Champions

The American Graduate initiative is helping to reshape the story from a crisis to an opportunity for success. By celebrating and telling the story of “movers” in the community and inviting others to share their personal "Stories of Champions," American Graduate can inspire millions to identify simple or scalable ways they can become American Graduate Champions.

Kenny IrbyAmerican Graduate Champion: Kenny Irby

In 2008 Pinellas County, Florida had one of the highest drop-out rates for African-American males in the country. As a means of addressing the issue, Kenny Irby with assistance from The Poynter Institute and the Tampa Bay Rays Foundation created The Write Field, a dynamic monthly mentoring program designed to improve the academic performance and life skills of selected middle school boys. Since the program’s inception, Kenny has recruited mentors and developed partnerships with local schools, law enforcement, businesses and community groups. Now in its third year, The Write Field graduated 33 young writers in May 2014. Watch Video


Melissa EricksonAmerican Graduate Champion: Melissa Erickson

Melissa Erickson, a three-term president of the Hillsborough County Public Schools Parent Teacher Association, has always valued family and education. In 2012, Melissa founded the Alliance for Public Schools Foundation, made up of a committee of community members working to give a voice to parents on matters concerning Florida’s educational landscape and to promote academic achievement and successful graduation. Through the Alliance, Melissa was instrumental in the creation of Parent University, a program that provides free classes and information focused on academic and support programs in Hillsborough County Public Schools, effective strategies families can use to help every child succeed, and ways to advocate for necessary resources. Melissa has been acknowledged many times for her leadership in youth education, including recognition as a Champion of Change from the White House in 2010. Watch Video


Robert VicariAmerican Graduate Champion: Robert Vicari

In 2010, Lakewood High School was put on a list of Florida’s most struggling schools, after five D state ratings in a row and poor test score data. However, by 2013, under Bob Vicari’s leadership and for the first time, Lakewood received an A rating, a move from the lowest 5% in the state to the top 25%. Bob attributes the school’s success to a climate change at the school, an increase in individual attention for the students, a strong teaching staff and a lot of people simply working well together. In addition to his busy schedule as principal, Bob also mentors students as a part of Florida’s Take Stock in Children, a mentoring and scholarship program for at-risk students. One of his mentees went on to become the valedictorian of Lakewood’s 2012 graduating class. Watch Video


Ongoing Projects

Free workshops for educators

WEDU has been awarded a generous $5,500 grant from the Impact Polk initiative of the GiveWell Community Foundation. The award will support a series of free workshops for early learning providers, K-12 educators or families throughout Polk County and will supply equipment for demonstrating PBS digital education resources.


Target Tuesdays at Glazer Children’s Museum

First Tuesday of each month: WEDU and Glazer Children’s Museum partner once a month for a fun-filled night of activities, each featuring a different character appearance. Special guests have included Cat in the Hat, Sid the Science Kid, and Clifford the Big Red Dog! Admission is free during the event courtesy of Target.


2014 Projects

Florida’s Kids & Alcohol Town Hall 2014

March 20, 2014: Since 2005, FLORIDA’S KIDS & ALCOHOL has addressed the issue of underage drinking in the state of Florida. The town hall series provides an in-depth discussion with parents, teachers, officials, and youth on the harmful effects. Designed to increase community awareness, the yearly discussion includes ideas for preventing youth from using alcohol. Florida’s Kids & Alcohol Town Hall 2014 took place on March 20 at the Digitorium at St. Petersburg College. Learn More


Past Projects Archive

Mentoring Information

Additional Resources


American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen is a public media initiative, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), to help students stay on the path to graduation and future success. For more information visit