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Class Dismissed: Engaging Dropouts and Communities on Public Media

American GraduateWhen the Corporation for Public Broadcasting threw down the American Graduate challenge, Catherine Stifter and friends in California’s Central Valley took it on, and learned 5 key lessons in how to produce engaging public media.

They had hair-raising material--three high schools in Stockton and four of Fresno's high schools made a 2004 list of "dropout factories" where 50% of freshmen failed to complete school through their senior year, and low-income students of color are at greater risk.

Their project Class Dismissed involved community participation from the start, and an engagement leader, jesikah maria ross, in the lead of that engagement; learning went both ways. It became radio documentary, a web site, a social media meme, and classroom projects. Stifter took away five to-dos for any community-engagement media project:

  • Think big. Build the necessary strengths for ambitious projects.
  • Make stories that ring true in the community where those stories live.
  • Collaborate like you mean it. Take the time to build real relationships between media makers and community members.
  • Be the best radio you can be. But, be more than radio.
  • Give credit where credit is due.

Want to know the more and the how-to? It’s all here.