American Graduate Day 2016

American Graduate Day 2016

Sat, 09/17/2016 - 2:00pm - 6:00pm

American Graduate Day 2016 returns to WXXI-TV  on Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. to focus on the importance of mentorship.
Broadcast live from Tisch WNET Studios in NYC on public television stations across the country, and streaming on Facebook Live and, the 5th annual American Graduate Day will focus on mentorship as a solution to one of the nation’s biggest education challenges. Hosted by Soledad O’Brien, American Graduate Day will feature leading education, media and celebrity figures who will highlight the role of mentoring to help close the graduation gap, share inspirational stories from across the nation, and encourage others to connect with students as a mentor.

While the national high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, hitting more than 82 percent last year, the graduate rates for students of color, students with special needs, English Language Learners, and low-income students are still lower than those of the overall student population, according to the latest Building a Grad Nation Report. A recent study, commissioned by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, reported that mentoring has significant positive effects on two early warning indicators that a student may be falling off-track: absenteeism and behavior problems, suggesting that mentoring, along with other research-based interventions and reforms, is an effective tool in increasing graduation rates, especially among at-risk youth. (The Mentoring Effect2014).

“The American Graduate initiative reflects public media’s long-term commitment of service to our communities, particularly the underserved,” said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “American Graduate’s success is built upon public media stations’ local partnerships that have illuminated the challenges and inspired citizens and organizations to work together to address them.”

Celebrity guests and more than 25 nonprofit organizations across the country will be featured as partners for American Graduate Day, with guests including Gen. and Mrs. Colin Powell, Shaquille O’Neal, and Rachel Platten, and organizations including My Brother’s Keeper, the Sparkle Effect, Sesame Street® and the Ad Council.

Lead partner, MENTOR, will help connect adults with students in need through their Mentoring Connector database which will be promoted on, by partner organizations and on air. Those who are interested in becoming a mentor and connecting with local organizations and youth can explore MENTOR’s Mentoring Connector database on
“Every student and child deserves a mentor who will fight for them every day to ensure they receive the education they deserve,” said Soledad O’Brien, award-winning journalist and host of American Graduate Day. “I’m proud to work with WNET to help highlight those individuals who are making a difference in their communities by helping students stay on track and graduate high school, but we still need more mentors to help guarantee all students reach their full potential. Through American Graduate Day, it’s our goal to spark a dialogue with public media – across all channels of storytelling – about the future of our youth and the critical role education plays.”

Featuring news segments, mini-documentaries, performances, and interviews, American Graduate Day 2016 is the culminating event of Spotlight Education Week– a special week of primetime education-themed programming on PBS beginning September 12, 2016. Following America Graduate Day, PBS NewsHour Weekend with Hari Sreenivasan will broadcast from Nine Network in St. Louis with a special focus on education issues related to American Graduate. Viewers can join the conversation online at and on social media using the #AmGrad hashtag or by following American Graduate on Twitter and Facebook.

Juju Chang (ABC); Rehema Ellis (NBC); Susie Gharib (Fortune); Bianna Golodryga (Yahoo); Michael Hill (NJTV); Soledad O’Brien (Hearst); Sheba Turk (WWL-TV)

4-H, AARP Foundation Experience Corps, ACE Mentor Program of America, Ad Council, After-School All-Stars, America’s Promise Alliance, Best Buddies, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Communities in Schools, Eye to Eye, Friends of the Children, Girl Scouts of the USA, iMentor, Inline-to-Ice, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Junior Achievement, MENTOR, My Brother’s Keeper, P-Tech, Reading is Fundamental, Rotary Foundation, Sesame Street®, The Sparkle Effect, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, YMCA of the USA

Shaquille O’Neal (Boys and Girls Clubs of America), General and Mrs. Colin Powell (America’s Promise Alliance); Angela Lansbury; Berry Gordy; Wynton Marsalis (Jazz at Lincoln Center); Mark Messier (Inline-to-Ice); Rachel Platten (VH1 Save the Music Foundation); Octavia Spencer (City Year); Reshanda Gray (After-School All-Stars)
Twenty local public media stations will produce original Stories of Champions segments about caring adults who have made a difference in the lives of young people. At least of eight of these local segments will air as part of the American Graduate Day 2016 broadcast.

American Graduate Day is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as part of American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen – a public media initiative to help communities address the high school dropout crisis. Additional funding for American Graduate Day is from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Visit the American Graduate website for more details on participating PBS stations as well as other television and radio programs:

American Graduate Day 2016 is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with WNET. Michael Kostel is executive producer. Karen Ialacci is production manager. Chris Brande and Helen Maier are national segment producers. Anna Campbell is Stories of Champions and segment producer. From the Education Department, Amanda Granger is project manager and Carole Wacey is vice president, education. Neal Shapiro is executive-in-charge.