Soledad O’Brien to Host “American Graduate Day 2015” on WUCF

Last Updated by Jennifer Cook on

American Graduate Day 2015 returns this fall for its fourth consecutive year. Soledad O’Brien will host the all-day broadcast which premieres Saturday, October 3 from 11AM-6PM on WUCF TV, Central Florida PBS. Broadcast and streamed live from the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in New York City, the annual multiplatform event is part of the public media initiative, American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, helping communities bolster graduation rates through the power and reach of local public media stations. Featuring seven hours of national and local programming, live interviews and performances, American Graduate Day 2015 will celebrate the exceptional work of individuals and groups across the country who are American Graduate Champions: those helping local youth stay on track to college and career successes.  

“WUCF is proud to be an American Graduate hub station and be in this unique position to highlight all the good work being done here in Central Florida celebrating local champions who are helping kids stay on the path to graduation,” said Polly Anderson, WUCF Executive Director.  “There are many great stories of success happening across Central Florida and we’re proud to bring those stories to the community.”

American Graduate Day 2015 will be anchored by “Stories of Champions,” a series of 14 one-minute profile pieces scheduled to air every half-hour, which will spotlight individuals and influential figures in local communities around the country who are successfully keeping students on the path to graduation.

WUCF will spotlight individuals like Harris Rosen and the work he’s doing in the community to help kids stay in school until graduation.

For the first time, this year’s broadcast will also feature seven mini-documentaries that highlight the extraordinary work organizations are doing across the nation to help keep students on the path to graduation and track to college.  WUCF will spotlight the Zebra Coalition and the work they are doing in the community to help kids stay in school until graduation.  You’ll meet Central Florida LGBT+ youth who are experiencing homelessness, bullying and more because of their sexual orientation and how this organization is helping with resources.

Hosted by Soledad O’Brien, award-winning journalist, American Graduate Day 2015 is set up around critical themes with the goal of inspiring citizens to connect with their local public media station and local community organizations, and get involved as American Graduate Champions in helping the youth of their community succeed.

The broadcast and online event will be divided into 14 half-hour blocks featuring a mix of live breaks and pre-taped partner segments that spotlight the organizations reinvigorating communities around the country and illustrate how they provide support, advice, and intervention services to at-risk students, families, and schools. Within each of these half-hour blocks, WUCF will customize the national feed with a locally-produced live or pre-taped six-minute segment.

WUCF’s American Graduate segments will be hosted by Annetta Wilson and will include:

·       11 a.m. – Early Education featuring the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County and Mrs. Joanne Rogers.

·       12 p.m. – Caring, Consistent Adults featuring Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, Harris Rosen, the Zebra Coalition and Apopka’s Hope Community Center.

·       1 p.m. – More & Better Learning featuring Daytona Beach Symphony Society’s YES program and the Dance Happy Project.

·       2 p.m. – Special Needs featuring Freedom Ride and UCF’s Wubees project.

·       3 p.m. – STEAM featuring Tech Sassy Girlz and the Steinway Society of Orlando.

·       4 p.m. – Dropout Prevention and Re-Engagement featuring the Second Harvest Food Bank and Orlando’s Jones High School

·       5 p.m. – Career Readiness & College Completion featuring United Way’s Grad Nation and My Brother's Keeper.

Viewers and online users who are interested in connecting with local organizations and youth as American Graduate Champions can send a text on the day of broadcast or log on to to find out more about the national and regional organizations and how to help in their hometowns.   Viewers will also be invited to participate in the discussion via Twitter using the #AmGrad hashtag and on Facebook.
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. Visit the American Graduate Web site for more details on participating PBS stations as well as other television and radio programs:


Juju Chang (ABC); Rehema Ellis (NBC); Jane Pauley (CBS); Susie Gharib (Fortune); Rebecca Jarvis (ABC); Bill Ritter (WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News); Hari Sreenivasan (PBS NewsHour Weekend); Lauren Wanko (NJTV News); Mary Alice Williams (NJTV News).  


Among the national organizations featured are: 4-H, 100 Black Men of Syracuse, ACE Mentor Program of America, America’s Promise Alliance, American Museum of Natural History, Autism Speaks, Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Born This Way Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Children’s Health Fund, Communities in Schools, The Enchanted Circle Theater, Get Schooled, GiGi’s Playhouse, Girl Scouts of America, GO Project, Goodwill GoodGuides, Green Bronx Machine, Horizons National, HorseAbility, Imagination Library, John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, Junior Achievement, Kids in Need Foundation, Little Kids Rock, Mario Batali Foundation, Merrimack Hall, Miracle League, Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education, My Brother’s Keeper, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, The Opportunity Network, Opportunity Village, PBS Student Reporting Labs, R.E.A.D., Reading is Fundamental, Roadtrip Nation, Save the Children, SEO Scholars, Special Olympics, United Way of America, Urban Dove, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, XCITE, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, YMCA and Zebra Coalition.



President George W. Bush; Gen. Colin and Alma Powell (America’s Promise Alliance); Jason Derulo (VH1 Save the Music Foundation); Zendaya (Get Schooled); Allison Williams (Horizons National); Shaquille O’Neal (My Brother’s Keeper Alliance); Billy Bob Thornton (Merrimack Hall); Paul Shaffer (Little Kids Rock); Dolly Parton (Imagination Library); Ed Asner (Autism Speaks); Penn & Teller (Opportunity Village); Mario Batali (Mario Batali Foundation); U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (4-H); Regina Carter (VH1 Save the Music Foundation); Sean Casey (The Miracle League); Bob and Suzanne Wright (Autism Speaks) and Cynthia Germanotta (Born This Way Foundation/Emotion Revolution).   

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