American Grad Day kicks off fourth broadcast Saturday

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The fourth annual American Graduate Day, a live public media celebration of adults who help kids stay in school, will feature a former president and Lady Gaga’s mother.

Journalist Soledad O’Brien will host the presentation from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time Saturday from WNET in New York City. Other moderators include Nightline anchor Juju Chang, former Today show host Jane Pauley, Hari Sreenivasan of PBS NewsHour Weekend and Mary Alice Williams from NJTV News.

Last year, 110 public broadcasting stations in 139 markets carried the live event, the annual showcase for work on the CPB-backed American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen dropout-prevention initiative.

Some 20 education, media and celebrity figures are scheduled to appear Saturday, including President George W. Bush, Girls actress Allison Williams, basketball great Shaquille O’Neal, singer Dolly Parton and actor Billy Bob Thornton. Cynthia Germanotta, mother of entertainer Lady Gaga, will discuss the work of the singer’s Born This Way Foundation.

In addition to Born This Way, more than 50 nonprofit partners will be featured during the broadcast. Participating will be groups including Big Brothers Big Sisters, 4-H, Special Olympics and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

The event will also premiere “Stories of Champions,” a series of 14 one-minute profiles of individuals who are successfully helping kids graduate, as well as seven mini-documentaries on that work.

“American Graduate’s success would not be possible without the partnership among public media and people and organizations from all sectors of American life,” said CPB President Pat Harrison in an announcement.

Viewers can join the conversation on social media using the #AmGrad hashtag.

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