Every 26 seconds in America, a student drops out of high school. State Farm today announced the launch of a campaign to address this startling statistic and engage those who can most directly affect change – young people themselves. The campaign titled "26 Seconds," will use interests – like music, sports and video – to engage youth. It will provide an online venue for youth to express feelings on the issue and creatively share thoughts and talents – encouraging them and their peers to make graduation a priority so they become more than a statistic. The program's tagline "BMOR" underscores this call to action.
Additionally, the State Farm Companies Foundation announced a scholarship program. Twenty-six scholarships will go to students who are not traditionally eligible for many scholarship programs. Students will be able to use the two-year scholarship totaling $5,000, to help fund two- or four-year college or university, technical, or vocational school attendance. Scholarship program information and eligibility guidelines will soon be available exclusively via 26seconds.com to reach those actively engaged in the graduation conversation.
The Building a Grad Nation Summit is being held March 21-23 in Washington, DC by America's Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and the Alliance for Excellent Education. The Summit's focus on encouraging Americans to take action against the high school dropout crisis provided an opportune time for State Farm to announce this campaign.
For years, State Farm has provided funding and corporate resources to proactively work with leading educational organizations and local communities to address the dropout problem by creating viable, sustainable solutions. The 26 Seconds campaign aggregates an active online community, guidance from proven leaders in the field, non-traditional scholarships, and State Farm employee and agent mentors to help motivate teens. The initiative will also feature NBA star LeBron James and others who will encourage and motivate students to join and lead conversations via 26seconds.com and facebook.com/26seconds.
"Our country's future depends on a collective effort from all Americans to take action to inspire our young people to stay in school and strive for success," said Mrs. Alma Powell – Chair, America's Promise Alliance. "State Farm's longstanding commitment to education and youth and its partnership with America's Promise Alliance to help improve graduation rates and empower a generation of future leaders is something we can all be proud of. Young people are essential to this work and this campaign helps give them a voice – something our entire nation will most certainly benefit from," said Powell.
The dropout epidemic is among the most significant challenges to our country's future. Through the 26 Seconds program, State Farm will work in concert with the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to help raise high school graduation rates, making neighborhoods across our country stronger.
"When 25 percent of our students – and almost 40 percent of our black and Hispanic students – fail to graduate high school on time, we know that too many of our schools are failing to offer their students a world-class education. That is morally unacceptable and economically unsustainable. I believe that improving our nation's graduation rate is absolutely essential to the future of our economy and the future of our nation," Duncan said.
"This announcement is the latest addition to State Farm's long history of supporting systemic changes in America's education system," said Edward B. Rust Jr., State Farm chairman and chief executive officer. "We are excited to add the 26 Seconds campaign to our ongoing support of teachers, principals and schools across the country through organizations like America's Promise Alliance," said Rust.