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"One Voice" video campaign aims to keep youth in school


Contact: Minnesota Alliance With Youth

Spencer Neitzel 


Twin Cities Public Television (tpt)

Kathleen O’Donnell


Minnesota Department of Education

Charlene Briner


“One Voice” video campaign aims to keep youth in school

ST. PAUL, MINN. (March 19, 2012) A youth-driven public awareness campaign was launched in March using internet videos and public service announcements on public television stations statewide to address the importance of staying in school. The videos are available at https://mnyouth.net

The Minnesota Alliance With Youth (Alliance) and Twin Cities Public Television (tpt), in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), are proud to present the “One Voice” video campaign.  The most powerful and unique part of this campaign is hearing from the voices of our young people directly. They speak very openly and honestly about what young people really need in order to be successful.  We very intentionally created this unique partnership with youth and adults, in order to have a more unified shared voice in addressing this critical issue,” said Sarah Dixon, CEO and President of the Alliance.

At a February premier celebration of the videos, one of the students described the achievement gap and dropout problem as “the civil rights issue of our generation.” Each year more than 10,000 youth in Minnesota drop out of school, and Minnesota’s academic achievement gap has grown to one of the largest in the nation. The partners hope the messages will help all youth stay in school and close the gap.

Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius stresses the importance of high quality education for all youth.  “Minnesota’s economic future and quality of life depend on making sure every student is well prepared for college or career. Governor Dayton and I are committed to making real progress to close Minnesota’s unacceptable achievement gap, including improving our graduation rates. We welcome the voices of the outstanding young people who are speaking directly to their peers about the importance of staying in school.”

Some of the videos will appear on tpt MN (2-2 in the Twin Cities) and on the Minnesota Channel state-wide.  “The unique element about this project is that it’s created not only for youth, but by youth,” said Kathleen O’Donnell, Director of Children’s and Family Programming and Engagement for tpt. tpt staff worked with members of the Alliance’s Minnesota Youth Council to determine the messages they hope will keep students from dropping out of high school. “By providing their personal perspective, youth involved in the project seek to communicate the message to those who need to hear it most: those not currently engaged in school,” added Dixon.

Youth Council members are featured in the videos describing personal, poignant stories about the value of education. The videos were not pre-scripted because it was important to the youth that the messages be extremely authentic.

The videos also feature two current state legislators. In January, Minnesota Youth Council members Esther Lee of Chaska and Jem Nelson of Minnetonka met with and interviewed Representative Paul Marquart and Senator Chuck Wiger. Both are passionate about students staying in school, but for very different reasons. Marquart is a teacher with a history of educators in his family. Wiger was a dropout himself. He returned to school after learning for himself the importance of education. Both Lee and Nelson were impressed by each legislator’s commitment to youth and education. “I was very surprised and encouraged by the energy that both Senator Wiger and Representative Marquart had when talking about the importance of youth voice in legislation,” said Lee.    

Production of the videos was funded by a grant from the National Center for Media Engagement. The “One Voice” project is part of a nationwide public media initiative that addresses the dropout crisis called “American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen” which is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). CPB, in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is working with public media stations in 20 “Hub Markets” where the dropout crisis is most acute to raise awareness of the issue and coordinate action with community partners – all with the goal of helping students stay on course to graduate from high school.

The videos are available at https://mnyouth.net.  Read more about the Minnesota Youth Council at https://mnyouth.net/council.

About the Minnesota Alliance With Youth

Founded in 1997, the Alliance is Minnesota’s leading convener, collaborator and capacity-builder for youth development. The Alliance seeks to strengthen youth success in school and learning, increase youth engagement in communities, develop and magnify youth voice, and advance collaboration and innovation with entities that share our vision.


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