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Dropout Awareness Campaign Aims to Engage Students

Here's an attention-getter: Every 26 seconds, a student drops out of high school in the United States.

Leveraging that statistic, State Farm this week kicked off a new public awareness campaign called "26 Seconds" that includes a website and Facebook page to encourage students to stay in school.

"Our main focus is to connect young people to this conversation," said Kathy Payne, senior director of education leadership at State Farm in Bloomington, Ill. "We have a tendency, with all great intentions, to do unto young people and not engage them fully in the conversation."

On the website, young people will have a chance to upload songs, videos, and testimonials to get the story out about the importance of education. Since peer influence can be a factor to those who opt out of school, Payne said the hope is that the voices of students will help others realize the implications of dropping out.

State Farm has partnered with national youth leadership organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club, to get the message out. The tagline of the campaign is BMOR: Be seen, Be heard, Be you, and Be more than the statistic.

Bringing a little star power to the program is professional basketball player LeBron James, who will be featured on the website.

State Farm also unveiled a scholarship program in which the company's foundation will provide 26 scholarships of $5,000 each for students to use to attend a two- or four-year college or university, or technical or vocational school.

The details of the scholarship program are still in the works, but it is aimed at students with lower academic performance records. "There are many young people who need a little incentive to stay in school but fall though the cracks," said Payne. "This with target those who are not traditionally eligible for scholarships."

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