Big Brothers Big Sisters to Participate in First American Graduate Day

(New York, NY & Washington, DC) September 10, 2012 –WNET New York Public Media and PRX today announced Saturday, September 22, 2012 as American Graduate Day, a multi- platform event featuring a live television broadcast, radio playlist with premiere documentaries, and participation from more than 20 national partner organizations, celebrities and athletes to spotlight solutions to the nation’s dropout crisis in which one in four students do not finish high school. Viewers and listeners will be encouraged to become an ―American Graduate Champion‖ by offering their time, donating resources, connecting with the organizations on social media or learning more about the crisis. 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).

“As part of American Graduate, public television and radio stations are working in their local communities to help people understand the impact of the dropout crisis and create champions from the community to help students stay on the path to a high school diploma,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB. “American Graduate Day will use all of public media’s platforms – on-air, online and in the community – to tell this story and focus on local organizations and community responses that are working through parents, teachers, students, and business and community leaders to make a difference in the lives of these young people.”

With special guests including PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Ray Suarez, the national television broadcast will air live on public television stations from the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. EST on Sept. 22 (check local listings). The event will feature over 20 national organizations that are working with local public media stations to help young people stay in school and on track for on-time graduation, segments about local community groups, 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 will also include the premiere of a new student film from Reel Works Teen Filmmaking and a preview of the upcoming FRONTLINE documentary, Dropout Nation.

Maria Bartiromo (anchor of CNBC’s Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo and host and managing editor of the nationally syndicated The Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo), JuJu Chang (ABC News correspondent), Rehema Ellis (NBC Nightly News education correspondent), Susie Gharib (PBS Nightly Business Report co-anchor), Maria Hinojosa (Need to Know host), Stone Phillips (PBS NewsHour contributor), Bianna Golodryga (Good Morning America Weekend co-anchor), Rebecca Jarvis (host of CBS This Morning:Saturday), Bryant Gumbel (host of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel), Zoraida Sambolin (host of CNN Early Start) and Ray Suarez (PBS NewsHour host), among others, will host the national television broadcast.

Celebrities taking part in the event include musician Carmine Appice; ballerina Misty Copeland; former Dallas Cowboy linebacker Darrin Smith; New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira; actor Courtney Vance; philanthropist Elaine Wynn; New York Giants defensive lineman Chris Canty; actor Hill Harper; NBC Nightly News anchor and Rock Center host Brian Williams; host and producer of Bloomberg EDU Jane Williams; and many more. Additionally, actor Denzel Washington and singer John Legend will be featured in taped interviews discussing the dropout problem. Public television stations representing more than 50 percent of U.S. households will broadcast American Graduate Day with many including local content alongside the national features.

Neal Shapiro, president and CEO of WNET, home to public television’s THIRTEEN, WLIW21 and NJTV, said, “I’m extremely proud that we can harness the power of our national and local airwaves to effect change in our own backyard and across the country. THIRTEEN is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and it is very gratifying to know that we continue to produce innovative content that can make a difference.”

Public Radio Exchange (PRX) will executive produce a one-hour American Graduate special, Left Behind, Dropping Out, for broadcast on Sept. 22, produced by Connecticut Public Radio – WNPR and hosted by former NPR Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook. The program features a one-on-one interview with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. PRX will also curate an American Graduate playlist of radio content produced around the country for stations to broadcast or stream for free. The playlist will include a new one-hour special from State of the Re:Union with Al Letson. Letson will also serve as the social media host of American Graduate Day.

John Barth, Public Radio Exchange’s managing director, said, “Our mission has always been to find innovative ways to bring in as large and diverse an audience to extend important community conversations. American Graduate Day is a dialogue that we as a nation need to address, and PRX plans on presenting the most dynamic and engaging radio programming that addresses this education crisis.”

Viewers will be able to participate in the broadcast by asking questions and sharing ideas before and during the broadcast on Twitter using the #AmGrad hashtag and on Facebook. Those interested in becoming an American Graduate Champion can also call in at 800-313-2477or log on to to find out more about the national and regional organizations and how to help in their hometowns.

Among the national organizations that will participate in the broadcast are After School All- Stars, America SCORES, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & 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 Teen Filmmaking, United Way, YouthBuild and the YMCA of the USA.

“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.”

Following American Graduate Day, the focus on education will continue throughout the week. Programming on the PBS NewsHour will feature several American Graduate segments, including a panel discussion and a segment about the challenges of keeping Williston, North Dakota students in school as their area struggles with an oil boom. The documentary FRONTLINE Dropout Nation will air on September 25, and the World Channel is producing a week of education programming inspired by American Graduate. Public radio stations will continue their broadcasts from the PRX American Graduate Playlist throughout the week as well.

Unless graduation rates increase, nearly 12 million students will likely drop out over the next decade, resulting in a loss to the nation of $1.5 trillion in lost wages and increased social costs due to crime and healthcare. Among students who do graduate, one-third need remedial courses in college and far fewer will go on to earn a college degree. Yet, more than half of all new jobs in the next decade will require some postsecondary education.

American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen is helping local communities identify and implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. American Graduate demonstrates public media’s commitment to education and its deep roots in every community it serves. Beyond providing programming that educates, informs and inspires, public radio and television stations — locally owned and operated — are an important resource in helping to address critical issues, such as the dropout rate.

In addition to national programming, more than 75 public radio and television stations have launched on-the-ground efforts working with community and at risk youth to keep students on- track to high school graduation. More than 800 partnerships have been formed locally through American Graduate, and CPB is working with Alma and Colin Powell’s America’s Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

About WNET
In 2012, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, local news and cultural offerings available on-air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.

About Public Radio Exchange
PRX is an award-winning public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring significant stories to millions of people. PRX operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including signature PRX programs like The Moth Radio Hour. PRX mobile apps for public media include This American Life, KCRW Music Mine and Public Radio Player. Learn more at

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,300 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.