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American Graduate Day

Subject: | Grade: K–12

American Graduate Day

Hosted by Soledad O’Brien on September 17, 2016, this live, four-hour national broadcast celebrated individuals and non-profit organizations dedicated to helping youth stay on track to high school graduation. 10 public television stations across the country contributed original content to the program.

Special guests included General and Mrs. Colin Powell, Shaquille O’Neal, Rachel Platten, Allison Williams, Elmo, Wynton Marsalis, Prince Royce, and many more.

Host Soledad O’Brien was joined by Juju Chang, Rehema Ellis, Susie Gharib and Hakeem Oluseyi. Throughout the day, American Graduate Day presented interviews with advocates like General and Mrs. Colin Powell, heartfelt testimonials from celebrities and luminaries, a live performance by one of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s student ensembles, and compelling Stories of Champions from across the nation. Viewers were encouraged to go online and become a Champion themselves by finding a mentoring opportunity in their local community.

Divided into 8 half hour-long content strands, topics included: Early Education, More and Better Learning, Special Needs Communities, Dropout Prevention and Re-Engagement, and College and Career Readiness. Each half-hour featured compelling live and taped interviews, live remote panels across the nation, mini-documentaries and celebrity testimonials.

In the weeks leading up to the broadcast, special events were held nationwide, including ringing the NASDAQ closing bell. National media coverage included: a Time Motto opinion piece by Soledad O’Brien, a People en Español feature on Prince Royce, and a Huffington Post Latino Voices feature, among others.

American Graduate Day 2016 was a part of “Spotlight Education” a week of primetime programs airing on PBS stations, focusing on the brightest ideas and the toughest challenges in the U.S. education system.  This special week of programming included eleven films and documentaries including special episodes of NOVA, Frontline, POV, PBS NewsHour and ending the week with American Graduate Day.  With “Spotlight Education,” PBS and its member stations hope to encourage a national dialogue on the topic of education and celebrate the efforts of teachers, administrators, students and mentors.

In addition to bringing together national station and organization partners during American Graduate Day, WNET also directly addresses ongoing educational issues of New York and New Jersey throughout the year – producing and broadcasting on-air segments highlighting local efforts to reach at-risk youth, organizing local town halls to facilitate meaningful discussion between community members, and participating in local educational conferences to connect directly with our tri-state area audience of educators, parents, communities, and the youth they serve.

Contact Us to learn more about WNET Education’s American Graduate work.