American Graduate Day 2015 celebrated more than 4.1 million American Graduate Champions across the country who are working in the 52 partner organizations featured and focused on helping youth stay on track to high school graduation.

The broadcast reached 84% of US households and generated over 139 million Twitter impressions of the #AmGrad hashtag, WNET and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) announced today.

“It was an exciting and emotional experience to spend seven hours highlighting the exciting and generous ways people are reaching out to students,” said award-winning journalist and American Graduate Day 2015 host Soledad O'Brien. “Getting that message out was so valuable. The next step is for people to engage with both students and these organizations to ensure every student has a life of opportunity and success.”

“As America’s storyteller, public media shares the stories of hope, challenge, and success from every community. These 4 million Champions are now connected, joining millions of other caring citizens working together through American Graduate, to showcase that every child can have the opportunity to achieve their dreams when someone is in their corner,” said Pat Harrison, President and CEO, Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “Public media focuses the dialogue on solutions and provides tools for every citizen to play a role – whether it is access to high quality Ready to Learn educational media for young learners or access to mentorships in partnership with a station.”

As part of the national public media initiative, American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, American Graduate Day shined a spotlight on local efforts across the country. This fourth annual multiplatform event featured content from more than 50 public media stations nationwide, who contributed Stories of Champions, mini-documentaries and live remote segments. More than 2,000 people visited the Seven Simple Steps online feature to learn how to become an American Graduate Champion themselves.

“This is the kind of thing that only public media can do: marshal the talents of hundreds of individuals and organizations to highlight real solutions to a difficult challenge,” said Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of WNET. “Encouraging children to stay in school and pursue their dreams is essential to our future and precisely the kind of impact WNET is seeking to have on our community.”

Programming highlights included:
• Live and taped appearances by renowned celebrities, media personalities and sports figures, such as First Lady Michelle Obama (Reach Higher); President George W. Bush; General and Mrs. Colin Powell (America’s Promise Alliance); Jason Derulo (VH1 Save The Music Foundation); Zendaya (Get Schooled Foundation); Allison Williams (Horizons National); Shaquille O'Neal (My Brother’s Keeper Alliance); Elmo (Sesame Street); Billy Bob Thornton (Merrimack Hall); Darlene Love (Little Kids Rock); Paul Shaffer (Little Kids Rock); Dolly Parton (Imagination Library); Echosmith (VH1 Save the Music Foundation); Wendy Williams; Ed Asner (Autism Speaks); Penn & Teller (Opportunity Village); U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (4-H); Regina Carter (VH1 Save the Music Foundation); Sean Casey (The Miracle League); Bob and Suzanne Wright (Autism Speaks); and Lady Gaga's mother Cynthia Germanotta (Born This Way Foundation/Emotion Revolution).
• Other highlights from this year’s broadcast included: a special in-studio live performance by Paul Shaffer and Little Kids Rock, and a performance by the New Brunswick School District Band and renowned jazz violinist Regina Carter.

American Graduate Day 2015 is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with WNET. Michael Kostel is executive producer. Jennifer Rowe is broadcast producer. Chris Brande, Anna Campbell, and Helen Maier are producers. From the Education Department, Ashley Dinges is project manager and Carole Wacey is vice president, education. Neal Shapiro is executive-in-charge. Visit the American Graduate Web site for more details on participating PBS stations as well as other television and radio programs.

American Graduate Day is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen – a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help more kids stay on the path to graduation, with more than 6,000 stories of American Graduate Champions collected so far to help inspire others.

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