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High School Dropout Prevention (2009-Present)

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Ad Council
Father and Son
Ad Council

In 2000, the U.S. Army partnered with the Ad Council to start a campaign and initiative called “Operation Graduation” to motivate and encourage kids to graduate high school.  However, statistics in 2004 showed that in America, one student still dropped out of high school every nine seconds and the rate at which students had left high school between grades 9 and 10 had tripled over the past 30 years.  Not only are 75% of America’s state prison inmates high school dropouts, but 60% of adults who dropped out of high school are unemployed.  In addition to increased unemployment, dropouts are often at a greater risk for drugs, gangs, poverty, and teenage pregnancy.

To combat these statistics and continue the idea of preventing high school dropouts, in 2006, the Advertising Council and U.S. Army’s high school dropout prevention campaign evolved into the national “Boost” campaign.  Created pro bono by ad agency JWT New York and later Publicis New York, the interactive campaign includes television, radio, outdoor, video game, and Internet advertising that encourages people to support teens in their communities to help keep these student in school and on the path to graduation.  The campaign dramatizes the staggering highlights the staggering statistic that 7,000 students drop out every school day in America – that’s 1 in 3.  The campaign also adds a personalized human quality to the issue by featuring stories of real students at-risk of dropping out.  The campaign website, www.boostup.org, connects people to resources and actions they can take to help ‘Boost” students to keep them in school.  

In 2009, President Obama joined the effort creating a series of television and radio PSAs communicating that he couldn’t have achieved his success without first graduating from high school.  He also held a special address to students in grades K-12 near the start of the school year challenging students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. 

Over the years, this campaign has shown great success.  In 2010, more than 40,000 boosts of encouragement were given through the website to help and encourage students to stay in school.  A national tracking survey in 2008 found that there were significant shifts in attitudes from 2006 to 2008 including how although only 38% of low-income teens in 2006 strongly disagreed that “most kids who are in danger of dropping out are a lost cause”, 50% of low-income teens disagreed in 2008.  Also, there was a 10% increase in low-income parents about how much influence they could have as a parent to ensure that their child graduates from high school.  In 2010, there was an average of 195,000 visits to the campaign website per month.  In January 2011, the campaign launched a redesigned website where visitors can learn about the dropout issue and state-by-state dropout statistics, hear from real students about the challenges they face and connections to ways to get involved directly with students or support classroom projects.  The site also includes resources to help struggling students in the areas of health, academics and drugs/alcohol problems. 

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