Public media launched the first-ever AMERICAN GRADUATE DAY on September 22, 2012. This multi-platform event featured live local and national programming, partners, celebrities and athletes focused on improving high school graduation rates in America.
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Journalist Desiree Cooper hosted the local show segments and interviewed 14 local organizations that work to help young people stay in school and on track for on-time graduation.
The national segments hosted special guests including PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Ray Suarez among others. It also featured 20 national organizations working to keep students engaged in school, compelling stories from students themselves, and highlights from PBS national and local content - from PBS NewsHour and Need to Know to Jim Glassman's Ideas in Action and Tavis Smiley Reports: Too Important To Fail. The broadcast also included the premiere of a new student film from Reel Works New York and a preview of the FRONTLINE documentary, Dropout Nation.
American Graduate Day is part of the public media initiative, American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
Those interested in becoming an American Graduate Champion can call 800-313-2477 or log-on to AmericanGraduate.org to find out more about the national and regional organizations and how to help in their hometowns.
National organizations that participated in the broadcast included After School All-Stars, America SCORES, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, buildOn, CFY, City Year, Communities in Schools, Girls Inc., Harlem RBI, Horizons National, Jumpstart, Little Kids Rock, NYC Mayor's Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism and School Engagement, NAACP, National Council of La Raza, Reel Works, United Way, YouthBuild and the YMCA.
Local organizations included, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Black Family Development, City Year, Communities in Schools, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Excellent Schools, Matrix Theatre Company, Michigan Department of Education, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Widening Advancements for Youth, Winning Futures and the YMCA.
"Graduating from high school was never an option for me, it was always a certainty. I realize now that not everyone had the same opportunities as me, and graduating is not a given in many communities," said Mark Teixeria. "The young people who don't graduate will be passed over for jobs and will have a difficult time creating a life for themselves. On American Graduate Day, viewers will get to see what organizations are doing locally and nationally to meet this challenge. They will also get an intimate look at the organization I am very proud to be a part of, Harlem RBI, and how our efforts in East Harlem are changing the face of an entire community through sports, education and, of course, graduation."