Thursday, September 3, 2009

President Obama Joins the U.S. Army and the Ad Council to Communicate the Importance of Education for America's Youth

/PRNewswire/ -- In time for the first day of school for many children across the U.S., President Obama is joining the Ad Council and the U.S. Army to launch a new series of television and radio public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to encourage Americans to take responsibility and support high school students on their path to graduation. The new ads, which feature the President, are a part of the Ad Council and the U.S. Army's High School Dropout Prevention "Boost" campaign. They are being distributed to media outlets nationwide to coincide with a special address President Obama will deliver directly to students in grades K-12 on Tuesday, September 8th on the importance of taking responsibility for their education. The speech will be broadcast live at 12:00 pm EDT on and C-SPAN.

Nearly 30 percent of high school students in the U.S. drop out, according to a report released by the America's Promise Alliance (Cities in Crisis: A Special Analytic Report on High School Graduation). In the new TV and radio PSAs, President Obama communicates that he couldn't have achieved his success without first graduating from high school. The President points to his high school graduation photo and describes how it paved the way for his inauguration photo. President Obama then urges all parents, friends, educators and neighbors to do whatever it takes to help support and encourage high school students in their education.

"We need all students to develop their talents, skills and intellect so they can help solve our most difficult problems," said President Obama. "If students don't do that -- if they quit on school -- they're not just quitting on themselves, they're quitting on their country."

During the speech, the President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. In advance of the address, the Department of Education is providing teachers with resources to help engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education.

"We are delighted to have President Obama join our Boost campaign designed to encourage students to stay in school and graduate. Research shows that the decision to drop out doesn't happen overnight and it isn't due to lack of motivation for many students. Through the President's words, these wonderful PSAs highlight the importance of motivating and challenging students and they help continue our campaign's goal to develop a community of support for students who need it," said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council.

The Ad Council and the U.S. Army kicked off their High School Dropout Prevention initiative in 2000. Now called "Boost" and created pro bono by ad agency Publicis New York, the campaign portrays the real stories of potential graduates who are at risk of dropping out. The PSAs encourage teens, parents and adults to give these students and students in their communities the "boost" of encouragement they need to stay in school and graduate. The ads direct audiences to visit, where they can send "boosts" to either students in their own communities or the profiled students. There are also sections on the website for parents and teens, which provide resources and guidance on issues relating to school, crisis and community.

The "Boost" campaign leverages the leading social networking websites (YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace) to provide opportunities to support teens. In addition to the PSAs, the campaign features a series of wake-up calls and alarm ringtones recorded by professional athletes that teens can share with friends and peers to provide the motivation to get up and go to school in the morning. New York Knicks' Nate Robinson, Chicago Bears' Lance Briggs, Phoenix Suns' Amare Stoudemire and Baltimore Ravens' Willis McGahee donated their time to record the messages, which can be downloaded at Furthermore, students can download an interactive "Countdown to Graduation" widget to help them stay on track to graduation.

"Nearly thirty percent of American high school students aren't graduating. Not because they don't want to graduate, but because of outside, personal situations including having to support family income, teen pregnancy and other issues," said Rob Feakins, President and Chief Creative Officer of Publicis New York. "These students need all of our support. And we welcome the support of President Obama."

Since its launch in November 2000, the Ad Council and the U.S. Army's High School Dropout initiative has received over $400 million in donated time and space from the media and is frequently ranked among the top ten supported Ad Council campaigns.

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