Public broadcasting has had success for generation in reaching young kids with shows like “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood,” and today stations launched a new initiative aimed at keeping students from dropping out of high school.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is launching American Graduate, in which it will grant $4.4 million to 20 market “hubs” where the dropout crisis (now at about 25% of all students) is at its worst. As many as 40 more markets will receive grants through the Center for Media Engagement.

Stations will rally support and help coordinate efforts to address the dropout rate, and create programs on the issue. The intent will be to reach children in middle school.

America Ferrera and Hill Harper were at the Newseum today to promote the program as it was announced by Patricia Harrison, CEO of the CPB. Also partnering with the CPB are the Gates Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance. Other funds will be used for tutoring programs and teacher town halls.