American Graduate Day 2017 Highlights Student Pathways to Career Success and Workforce Development Opportunities on PBS Stations October 14, 2017

September 8, 2017

September 8, 2017, New York, NY – Broadcast live from Tisch WNET Studios in NYC on public television stations across the country, and streaming on, the 6th annual American Graduate Day on October 14, 2017 2-6PM ET (check local listings) will examine the vital role mentorship plays through high school, and will explore diverse pathways to career success and workforce development opportunities.

Since 2012, the American Graduate Day broadcast has focused on telling stories, creating resources and building community connections to successfully move students from early education through high school graduation. With the graduation rate now at an all-time high, American Graduate Day is expanding the conversation and stories beyond the high school diploma, highlighting workforce trends, career pathways and job opportunities, and the necessary skills to meet industry needs in every community across America.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 6.2 million open jobs in critical, high-demand fields due in large part to an imbalance between workers’ skills and open jobs. National business organizations such as the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have noted that the United States is experiencing a workforce skills gap that is holding our economy back and threatening our economic future. 

"American Graduate Day affirms public media’s commitment to lifelong learning, beginning with our youngest citizens, getting them ready to learn, and putting them on a path to a high school diploma and career success,” said Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “Communities across the country are facing profound education and workforce challenges, and this WNET production will examine ways partners can and are making a difference.”

For the first time, American Graduate Day will examine post-secondary pathways to career success, spotlighting the individuals, organizations and community partnerships that equip young people with the skills and resources to enter the workforce from multiple pathways – ranging from traditional universities to job training and certification programs, the military and apprenticeship programs.

“Nothing is more important than ensuring our next generation has the tools and resources they need to succeed,” said Neal Shapiro, president and CEO of WNET. “Made possible through the support of CPB, this year’s broadcast will showcase the individuals and organizations not only supporting our youth on their journey to a high school degree but finding a successful career that will provide the foundation for a better life.”  

Hosted by award winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, American Graduate Day will feature leading education, business, media and celebrity figures who will share inspirational stories from across the nation and encourage others to connect with students as a mentor as they look beyond the diploma and explore post-high school options.

“Now, more than ever, we celebrate positive role models and mentors in our society and in the lives of our young people,” O’Brien said. “Young people need ongoing exposure to caring, engaged and inspiring adults. They need to be surrounded by people who set a good example and guide them through important milestones. They need role models who help them develop character and who guide them as they chart their academic and professional journeys. American Graduate Day highlights the strong community leaders, organizations and individuals who are making a positive difference in classrooms and communities across the nation.”

Celebrity guests along with more than 30 nonprofit, corporate and philanthropic organizations across the country will be featured as partners for American Graduate Day, with guests including General and Mrs. Colin Powell, John Legend, Misty Copeland, Phil Mickelson, Daymond John, Marcus Samuelsson and Jane Pauley. 

Like last year, nonprofit organization MENTOR will help connect adults with students in need through their Mentoring Connector database, which will be promoted on, by partner organizations and on air. Those who are interested in becoming a mentor and connecting with local organizations and youth can explore MENTOR’s Mentoring Connector database on

Viewers can join the conversation online at and on social media using the #AmGrad hashtag or by following American Graduate on Twitter and Facebook.


Rehema Ellis (NBC); Susie Gharib (Fortune); Soledad O’Brien (Starfish Media Group); Hakeem Oluseyi (Science Channel); Sheba Turk (WLL-TV); Lauren Wanko (NJTV)


ACE Mentor Program of America; American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES); America’s Promise Alliance; Autism Speaks; The Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding (a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries); Big Brothers Big Sisters; Blue for Books; Boys and Girls Clubs of America; Café Momentum; Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP); Citi Foundation; Communities in Schools; Exploring, an affiliate of Boy Scouts of America; ECLC of New Jersey; The Felix Organization; First Nations Launch; iCouldBe; iMentor; Junior Achievement; Kids in Need Foundation; Literacy Partners; MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership; Major League Baseball; Mouse; National Museum of African American History & Culture; NASA; Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE); Per Scholas; PGA Tour; StartEd; Turner Construction Company; United States Army Recruiting Command; United Way; VH1 Save the Music Foundation; Yoobi; YouthBuild USA, Inc.


Robinson Cano (City Year); Juju Chang (Junior Achievement); Misty Copeland (Boys and Girls Clubs of America); Jordan Fisher (VH1 Save the Music Foundation); John Herrington (AISES); Sheila Jaffe (The Felix Organization); Daymond John (NFTE); John Legend (LRNG); Darryl McDaniels (The Felix Organization); Phil Mickelson (Blue for Books); Jane Pauley; General and Mrs. Colin Powell (America’s Promise Alliance); Rosita (Sesame Street®); Marcus Samuelsson (C-CAP); Major General Jeffrey Snow (U.S. Army Recruiting Command); United States Army Recruitment Band: As You Were

30 local public media stations will produce original Stories of Champions segments about caring adults who have made a difference in the lives of young people.  Up to 16 of these local segments will air as part of the American Graduate Day 2017 broadcast.   

American Graduate Day is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as part of the public media initiative, American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen. Additional funding for American Graduate Day is from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Visit the American Graduate website for more details on participating PBS stations as well as other television and radio programs:

American Graduate Day 2017 is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with WNET. Michael Kostel is executive producer.  Karen Ialacci is production manager. Chris Brande and Helen Maier are national segment producers.  Anna Campbell is segment producer and editor. From the Education Department, Amanda Granger is associate director and Carole Wacey is vice president, education. Neal Shapiro is executive-in-charge.



About American Graduate

American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen is public media’s long-term commitment to supporting community-based solutions to help young people succeed in school and life.  Supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), more than 100 public television and radio stations have joined forces with over 1,700 partners across 49 states to elevate the stories of youth and the supportive adults that help them succeed. Through American Graduate, public media, with its unique position as a trusted resource and important partner in local communities, provides a critical platform to shine a light on pathways to graduation and successful student outcomes. National and local reporting, both on air and online is helping communities understand the challenges and community-driven solutions associated with the dropout crisis. Public forums, town halls, and community conversations are activating discussions between community leaders, educators, and more.

About WNET

WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (KidsThirteen, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history game. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person, and an intergenerational look at tech and pop culture, The Chatterbox with Kevin and Grandma Lill. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere:

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 nearly 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit and follow CPB on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebook , and LinkedIn and subscribe for email updates.