LeBron James has recorded a PSA to help stop the rate of high school dropouts in the US.

Approximately 7,000 high school students drop out every school day – that’s one every 26 seconds. In an effort to raise awareness about the dropout crisis and inspire individuals to “Boost” (support) students in their communities, the U.S. Army and the Ad Council are unveiling a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs), created pro bono by advertising agency Publicis New York.

Also launching today is Boost Nation, a microsite developed in collaboration with the 26 Seconds BMOR campaign, that will facilitate the creation and sharing of video and written messages for students to view and see that people all across the country do care that they stay in school and graduate. LeBron James and Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan are among the first to share their video messages of support on Boost Nation.

Research conducted by Civic Enterprises shows that the decision to drop out does not happen overnight but is part of a slow process of disengagement from school. The choice is complex and personal and relates to each high school student’s unique life circumstances.

“The U.S. Army is thrilled to continue our role in raising awareness of high school dropout prevention as part of our larger efforts to invest in the education of America’s youth,” said Mark Davis, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Secretary of the Army, Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “We believe that education is at the core foundation of our nation, because the key to a productive life is graduation from high school. As James A. Garfield once said, ‘Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.’”

“Life is about dreaming big and working hard to achieve those dreams. I know, from my own experiences, a lot of kids face tough challenges and need all the support they can get,” said LeBron James. “The Boost Nation and 26 Seconds campaigns are a great way to reach these kids and help them understand why education and finishing school is so important if they want to achieve their dreams.”

“I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful program that will help to promote the importance of education which is the cornerstone of the Miss America Scholarship program today,” said Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan. “Encouraging students to stay in school is one of the most important messages that I have to communicate as Miss America, as I travel the country and share with students the importance of staying in school and pursuing their educational dreams.”

The new TV, radio, print, outdoor and Web PSAs direct friends, parents and adult influencers of at-risk students, ages 9-17, to www.BoostUp.org. On the site, visitors can learn about the dropout issue and state-by-state dropout statistics, hear from real students about the challenges they face to graduation, and find connections to ways to get involved directly with students or support classroom projects in their communities. The website and many of the PSAs are also available in Spanish.

“Despite the national spotlight on this crisis, thousands of high school students nationwide continue to drop out every school day,” according to Peggy Conlon, president & CEO of the Ad Council. “These new PSAs show the stark reality facing thousands of teenagers and the vital importance of communities reaching out and providing a ‘boost’ to help them stay in school and graduate.”

“It’s easy for people to ignore issues like the High School Drop Out rate. But frankly the numbers are staggering and can’t be ignored. We felt the numbers were both alarming and a compelling way to make people aware of a real issue,” said Rob Feakins, President and Chief Creative Officer Publicis New York. “This campaign was to try to make people aware of what it means when we say 7000 kids drop out every single day across the U.S.”

Since its launch in 2000, the Army and Ad Council’s High School Dropout Prevention campaign has received nearly $615 million in donated media across television, radio, outdoor, print and digital. Per the Ad Council’s model, the PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.

The 26 Seconds campaign was launched earlier this year by State Farm in conjunction with the America’s Promise Alliance and LeBron James. Designed to bring awareness to the startling statistic that every 26 seconds a student drops out of high school, the campaign is aimed at teens 13-19. It asks them to be more (BMOR) than the statistic by committing to graduate. Via its BMOR Project on Facebook, it offers monthly prizes and online activities which show teens how they can channel their interests into a future after graduation. The program also provides resources and support at 26seconds.com for caring adults and organizations who can work directly with teens to help them graduate. Collaboration with Boost Nation reinforces for teens the importance of graduation and the support and encouragement of caring adults.

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