XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation, and The Entertainment Industry Foundation announced today that they are joining together to pay tribute to the Class of 2020 in a one-hour multimedia special event, Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, on Saturday, May 16 (8 PM ET/PT, 7 PM CT).
LeBron James, Bad Bunny, Charli D’Amelio, Dixie D’Amelio, Chika, YBN Cordae, Loren Gray, H.E.R., the Jonas Brothers, Brandan Bmike Odums, Ben Platt, Henry Platt, Jonah Platt, Megan Rapinoe, Yara Shahidi, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Malala Yousafzai, and many more will participate in #GraduateTogether.
As coronavirus has prompted the cancellation of high school graduation ceremonies, some of the nation’s biggest media companies will honor the more than 3 million high school seniors across the country with a joyful tribute to the Class of 2020. ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC will simultaneously air the special along with leading entertainment, social media and streaming platforms—including Complex Networks, Facebook App, Instagram, PeopleTV, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube—which will all create dynamic experiences for each of their unique audiences.
“We learned early on in our work with students and families in Akron that education is so much more than academics. It’s about a shared experience, a journey we’re all on together—students, parents, educators, community members, and everyone around them. With that not being possible right now, we’ve been working to find ways to help families get through this really difficult time,” said LeBron James. “These students have worked incredibly hard for this and there’s no way we can let that go unrecognized. While this won’t be the graduation experience they were supposed to get, we hope we can still give them something special because they deserve it.”
Curated by high school students and educators throughout the country, with the support of the American Federation of Teachers, this national commercial-free broadcast will include a collection of commencement addresses, celebrity performances, and inspirational vignettes. #GraduateTogether is inviting students, educators, and families to submit their own videos and photos online for consideration to be included in the telecast. In addition, renowned artist JR and his global participatory art project, Inside Out, are inviting high school seniors everywhere to share their own portraits for a national virtual yearbook celebrating the entire Class of 2020. And because high school graduations are local, local television stations will also feature custom breakaways to celebrate the achievements of high school students in their own communities.
“At XQ, we work to reimagine the American high school experience—but no one could have imagined the profound changes that have upended the Class of 2020’s final days of the school year,” said Russlynn Ali, co-founder and CEO of XQ Institute. “It has been remarkable to watch these young people, in the face of an unprecedented challenge, demonstrate courage and resilience beyond their years. In doing so, they have given every American reason to feel hopeful about our future. #GraduateTogether is an opportunity for us all to pay tribute to what these incredible students have accomplished.”
In a statement, the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Board of Directors said, “EIF’s long-standing role in the entertainment industry has been to harness the resources of Hollywood to help lift up the voices of important social efforts. XQ has, from day one, been a critical partner to this community on the education front, and we are proud to support their tireless work focused on students and educators across America.”
Other organizations supporting this special event include CAA, which has been invested in education initiatives for more than 25 years and is helping rally the creative community around this effort; Complex Networks, which will create specialized programming across Complex and First We Feast for youth audiences leading up to the show; and PEOPLE, which is leading a national search for exceptional high schoolers and teachers. Those inspirational stories will be told during the broadcast, in the magazine, and on PEOPLE.com and PeopleTV.
This crisis has created a critical void across the nation’s most underserved and challenged communities. Schools play a vital role in every neighborhood and are often the source of stability in a young person’s life, providing education, meals, and a place to stay safe. Led by Entertainment Industry Foundation, The LeBron James Family Foundation and its I PROMISE School, and XQ Institute, #GraduateTogether is partnering with DonorsChoose and America’s Food Fund to help fill this void. DonorsChoose gives public school teachers working in high-need communities the opportunity to request the materials and resources their students need to keep learning. America’s Food Fund provides funding to hunger-relief organizations, ensuring students who rely on school-lunch programs still have safe, consistent access to meals during COVID-19.
“‘We miss you’—that’s what I hear America’s educators telling their students over and over again,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Our country’s teachers and support personnel have been on the front lines keeping students engaged, comforted, and supported during this time of incredible upheaval. Educators want their kids to be okay. And even if we are physically apart, we are eager to celebrate our students’ accomplishments alongside parents, family members, and caregivers as we try to bring this school year to a meaningful close. We are grateful to all our teachers and school staff and proud to join in this effort to bring together education professionals from across the country and honor graduates as they embark on their next journey.”
Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 will be broadcast commercial-free on Saturday, May 16, 2020, at 8:00 PM ET/PT, 7:00 PM CT on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. The show is being produced by Done + Dusted and SpringHill Entertainment.