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American Graduate Day 2015

According to the 2015 Building a Grad Nation report, the national high school graduation rate has hit a record high at 81.4 percent – on track to achieve 90 percent by 2020. But while the overall news is encouraging, there is still significant work to be done, particularly for students of color, students from low-income families, and young people with disabilities whose graduations are lagging behind the national average.

Closing this critical gap is one of the key challenges faced by American educators, caregivers, and communities and one of the areas of focus for the fourth annual American Graduate Day. On Saturday, October 3rd (check local listings), the seven-hour live broadcast will spotlight the people and organizations working in communities across America to inspire students to complete their education and stay on the path to success.

This year’s broadcast will encourage viewers to take one of Seven Simple Steps to become an American Graduate Champion themselves. From reading with a child, mentoring a student, donating school supplies, or reaching out to someone with special needs – anyone can have a big impact to help a child succeed in the classroom and beyond, inspire them to stay on the path to graduation.

“Telling the stories of American Graduate Champions who are making a difference in the lives of students, schools and their communities inspires others as we work to help students stay on a positive path to graduation,” said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “American Graduate’s success would not be possible without the partnership among public media and people and organizations from all sectors of American life.”

Juju Chang (ABC), Rehema Ellis (NBC), Jane Pauley (CBS), Bill Ritter (WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News), Hari Sreenivasan (PBS NewsHour Weekend, SciTechNow), Lauren Wanko (NJTV News), and Mary Alice Williams (NJTV News) are among the hosts of the seven-hour program, which will be broadcast and streamed live from the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center.

America’s Promise’s founding Chair General Colin Powell and current Chair Alma Powell will help to kick-off the broadcast again this year. Shaquille O’Neal will interview a student with My Brother’s Keeper Alliance; and Allison Williams will talk about her work with Horizons NationalDolly Parton will discuss Imagination Library, and Ed Asner will talk about his personal connection to Autism Speaks. Other testimonials include Jason Derulo on VH1 Save the Music Foundation; Penn & Teller on Opportunity Village; and Billy Bob Thornton on Merrimack Hall’s Johnny Stallings Arts Program (JSAP).

A notable component of American Graduate Day will be the Stories of Champions segments profiling people across America who are working to help students graduate. More than 35 PBS stations will profile over 100 American Graduate Champions on television, radio, station websites, and social media.

Tune in October 3rd for these inspiring stories and more.  Visit American Graduate on FacebookTwitter, or AmericanGraduate.org to learn how you can become an American Graduate Champion and make a difference in your community. Use the #AmGrad hashtag to join the conversation on social media.

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 communities implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. Additional funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.