XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation, and The Entertainment Industry Foundation announced today that they are joining together to pay tribute to the Class of 2020 in a one-hour multimedia special event, Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, on Saturday, May 16 (8 PM ET/PT, 7 PM CT). LeBron James, Bad Bunny, Charli D’Amelio, Dixie D’Amelio, Chika, YBN Cordae, Loren Gray, H.E.R., the Jonas Brothers, Brandan Bmike Odums, Ben Platt, Henry Platt, Jonah Platt, Megan Rapinoe, Yara Shahidi, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Malala Yousafzai, and many more will participate in #GraduateTogether.
As coronavirus has prompted the cancellation of high school graduation ceremonies, some of the nation’s biggest media companies will honor the more than 3 million high school seniors across the country with a joyful tribute to the Class of 2020. ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC will simultaneously air the special along with leading entertainment, social media and streaming platforms—including Complex Networks, Facebook App, Instagram, PeopleTV, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube—which will all create dynamic experiences for each of their unique audiences.
“We learned early on in our work with students and families in Akron that education is so much more than academics. It’s about a shared experience, a journey we’re all on together—students, parents, educators, community members, and everyone around them. With that not being possible right now, we’ve been working to find ways to help families get through this really difficult time,” said LeBron James. “These students have worked incredibly hard for this and there’s no way we can let that go unrecognized. While this won’t be the graduation experience they were supposed to get, we hope we can still give them something special because they deserve it.”
Curated by high school students and educators throughout the country, with the support of the American Federation of Teachers, this national commercial-free broadcast will include a collection of commencement addresses, celebrity performances, and inspirational vignettes. #GraduateTogether is inviting students, educators, and families to submit their own videos and photos online for consideration to be included in the telecast. In addition, renowned artist JR and his global participatory art project, Inside Out, are inviting high school seniors everywhere to share their own portraits for a national virtual yearbook celebrating the entire Class of 2020. And because high school graduations are local, local television stations will also feature custom breakaways to celebrate the achievements of high school students in their own communities.
“At XQ, we work to reimagine the American high school experience—but no one could have imagined the profound changes that have upended the Class of 2020’s final days of the school year,” said Russlynn Ali, co-founder and CEO of XQ Institute. “It has been remarkable to watch these young people, in the face of an unprecedented challenge, demonstrate courage and resilience beyond their years. In doing so, they have given every American reason to feel hopeful about our future. #GraduateTogether is an opportunity for us all to pay tribute to what these incredible students have accomplished.”
In a statement, the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Board of Directors said, “EIF’s long-standing role in the entertainment industry has been to harness the resources of Hollywood to help lift up the voices of important social efforts. XQ has, from day one, been a critical partner to this community on the education front, and we are proud to support their tireless work focused on students and educators across America.”
Other organizations supporting this special event include CAA, which has been invested in education initiatives for more than 25 years and is helping rally the creative community around this effort; Complex Networks, which will create specialized programming across Complex and First We Feast for youth audiences leading up to the show; and PEOPLE, which is leading a national search for exceptional high schoolers and teachers. Those inspirational stories will be told during the broadcast, in the magazine, and on PEOPLE.com and PeopleTV.
This crisis has created a critical void across the nation’s most underserved and challenged communities. Schools play a vital role in every neighborhood and are often the source of stability in a young person’s life, providing education, meals, and a place to stay safe. Led by Entertainment Industry Foundation, The LeBron James Family Foundation and its I PROMISE School, and XQ Institute, #GraduateTogether is partnering with DonorsChoose and America’s Food Fund to help fill this void. DonorsChoose gives public school teachers working in high-need communities the opportunity to request the materials and resources their students need to keep learning. America’s Food Fund provides funding to hunger-relief organizations, ensuring students who rely on school-lunch programs still have safe, consistent access to meals during COVID-19.
“‘We miss you’—that’s what I hear America’s educators telling their students over and over again,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Our country’s teachers and support personnel have been on the front lines keeping students engaged, comforted, and supported during this time of incredible upheaval. Educators want their kids to be okay. And even if we are physically apart, we are eager to celebrate our students’ accomplishments alongside parents, family members, and caregivers as we try to bring this school year to a meaningful close. We are grateful to all our teachers and school staff and proud to join in this effort to bring together education professionals from across the country and honor graduates as they embark on their next journey.”
Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 will be broadcast commercial-free on Saturday, May 16, 2020, at 8:00 PM ET/PT, 7:00 PM CT on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. The show is being produced by Done + Dusted and SpringHill Entertainment.
ABOUT DONE + DUSTED
D+D is a global creator of events, content and experiences with offices in Los Angeles, London, China and Abu Dhabi. One of the most respected creators of events, content and audience experiences in the world. D+D has a reputation, network, body of work and global experience that is unsurpassed. Storytelling is the constant organizing principle behind every great piece of entertainment in the world and it is at the heart of everything D+D do. Stories connect us, move us, make us laugh, and cry, and feel. Our stories define us. From ice caps to deserts, from skyscrapers to jungles, D+D has partnered with brands, broadcasters, royalty, digital platforms, audiences, agencies, educators, philanthropists, humanitarians and artists to create and film live spectacles in every corner of the world… anywhere and everywhere that stories are told. D+D take the viewer to both the heart and the extremities, committed to delivering dynamic content, that is innovative and technically pioneering. D+D maintain a consistent level of excellence in everything they do, which is reflected in their unparalleled production credentials. The D+D partners are Hamish Hamilton, Ian Stewart, Simon Pizey, Melanie Fletcher, David Jammy, Katy Mullan, and Guy Carrington.
ABOUT THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY FOUNDATION
Founded in 1942, the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) is a multifaceted organization that occupies a unique place in the world of philanthropy. By mobilizing and leveraging the powerful voice and creative talents of the entertainment industry, as well as cultivating the support of organizations (public and private) and philanthropists committed to social responsibility, EIF builds awareness and raises funds, developing and enhancing programs on the local, national and global level that facilitate positive social change. Visit eifoundation.org and follow @eifoundation for more information.
EIF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, platinum seal of transparency from Guidestar, and EIF meets all 20 BBB Charity Standards.
ABOUT THE LEBRON JAMES FAMILY FOUNDATION
Recognizing the life-changing importance of education, The LeBron James Family Foundation invests its time, resources, and attention in the kids of James’ hometown in Akron, Ohio. Through its I PROMISE Program, the foundation serves at-risk students and their entire families by providing them with the programs, support, and mentors they need for success in school and beyond. In 2018, the Foundation partnered with Akron Public Schools in an unprecedented public-private partnership to build all of its family-first programming and academic interventions into the groundbreaking I PROMISE School that has created a new model for urban, public education.
Leading with social emotional learning, the I PROMISE School provides a nurturing and supportive environment that fosters a STEM-focused and trauma-informed curriculum infused with LeBron’s “We Are Family” philosophy to assist the students and families in Akron who need it most. The school’s on-site Family Resource Center provides complete wraparound services for its families including career, academic, legal, medical, and emotional support to eliminate barriers on their path to a better future.
ABOUT SPRINGHILL ENTERTAINMENT
SpringHill Entertainment is the entertainment and content company created by LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter. Named after the public housing complex where James grew up in Akron, Ohio, SpringHill Entertainment develops creative content across a variety of platforms including digital, documentary and feature films, and scripted and unscripted TV.
SpringHill’s growing portfolio of compelling and aspirational content includes two scripted drama series for Netflix – “Top Boy” with Drake and Adel “Future” Nur and “Self Made: Inspired By The Life Of Madam C.J. Walker” starring Octavia Spencer as well as the powerful “I PROMISE” documentary series for Quibi. Previous credits include “Shut Up & Dribble” for Showtime (three Sports Emmy Nominations), “Best Shot” with Jay Williams for YouTube Premium (IDA Award Nomination), “Warriors of Liberty City” for Starz (SXSW 2018) and “What’s My Name | Muhammad Ali” with acclaimed director Antoine Fuqua for HBO (Tribeca 2019). The production company is behind NBC’s hit primetime game show “The Wall,” which is now in its third season. The original format has also found international success, selling to over 28 territories around the world. Upcoming projects include a fresh take on the classic “House Party” at New Line, the docuseries “Becoming” for Disney+ and the upcoming Space Jam film premiering July 2021.
ABOUT XQ INSTITUTE
XQ Institute is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to rethinking the high school experience so that every student graduates ready to succeed in life. We work in communities throughout the country, with individual schools and entire school systems, to help them dream big about what high school could be, turn their innovative ideas into action, and create more rigorous and equitable schools. We share what’s working with other schools and districts, so they can tailor new models to the needs of their own students and communities. We know that seeing is believing, so we meet people where they are to share the importance and possibility of change through listening, learning, and storytelling. And our open-source tools, based on research and design thinking, empower people to take up the challenge of transforming their high schools with a unifying goal: unlocking the American promise of a high-quality education for everyone.
XQ was co-founded by board chair Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and president of Emerson Collective, and Russlynn Ali, XQ’s CEO and former U.S. assistant secretary of education for civil rights. XQ’s board of directors also includes Geoffrey Canada, Marc Eckō, Jimmy Iovine, Michael Klein, and Yo-Yo Ma. To learn more, visit http://www.xqsuperschool.org and follow @xqamerica.