American Graduate Day 2016 Celebrates Importance of Mentoring

November 23, 2016

American Graduate Day

The fifth annual American Graduate Day, focusing on mentorship as one of the solutions for the nation’s education challenges, was broadcast live from Tisch WNET Studios in New York City on September 17 on more than 100 public television stations across the country.

Hosted by Soledad O’Brien, American Graduate Day featured leading education, media and celebrity figures highlighting the importance of mentoring to help close the graduation gap, shared inspirational stories from across the nation, and encouraged others to connect with students as a mentor. Here’s a video highlight of the four-hour special that was also streamed on Facebook Live and

American Graduate Day 2016, by WNET

While the national high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, hitting a record 83.2 percent, the graduate rates for students of color, students with special needs, English language learners, and low-income students are still lower than those of the overall student population, according to the latest Building a Grad Nation Report. American Graduate Day 2016 featured 34 non-profit partner organizations and honored their 4,332,405 adult volunteers as American Graduate Champions, the caring adults who help keep America’s youth on the path to high school graduation, college and career. The special broadcast is a centerpiece of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a CPB-funded the public media initiative to engage communities to lower the nation’s dropout rate. 

“The American Graduate initiative reflects public media’s long-term commitment of service to our communities, particularly the underserved,” said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “American Graduate’s success is built upon public media stations working in partnership with leaders from business, education, faith-based organizations, foundations and others to help young people stay in school and graduate.”

American Graduate Day featured celebrity guests and partners from across the country, including Shaquille O’Neal, Allison Williams, Rachel Platten and Gen. and Mrs. Colin Powell, and organizations including My Brother’s Keeper, the Sparkle Effect, Sesame Street and the Ad Council. Lead partner MENTOR helped connect adults with students in need through their Mentoring Connector database.

American Graduate Day 2016 was the culmination of Spotlight Education, PBS’ week of special primetime programming examining the challenges facing today’s students and America’s education system. For more information, go to