American Graduate Day 2014

Stories of Champions

American Graduate Day 2014

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NET Television again participated in the third year of American Graduate Day, a Corporation for Public Broadcasting, seven-hour, multi-platform event that celebrated the Stories of Champions, individuals, and organizations committed to improving outcomes for youth and raising graduation rates. The live "call-to-action" marathon will included four feature stories by NET Learning Services, two of which also aired across the U.S.

Wes Moore, founder of BridgeEdU, and Juju Chang, anchor of ABC’s Nightline, hosted. Celebrities scheduled to take part in the live broadcast included: Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto for Exploring the Arts; Gen. Colin Powell and Alma Powell for America’s Promise Alliance; Edward James Olmos, CC Sabathia, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee for Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Ingrid Michaelson and Andy Grammer for VH1 Save the Music; Miral Kotb for Girls Who Code; Brian Williams, Jane Stoddard Williams, and their children, Doug and Allison Williams (HBO's Girls), for Horizons National; and Sesame Street's Elmo.

We are excited to participate in American Graduate Day 2014 with NElovesPS and our fellow public media stations across the country. This multifaceted day of on-air and online programming is in line with NET’s commitment to education and engagement — encouraging kids to stay on the path to graduation, and partnering with teachers, parents, and business and community leaders to make a difference in the lives of children in Nebraska.
        —Gary Targoff, NET Assistant General Manager for Education



Stories of Champions by NET Learning Services

Stories of Champions highlights community leaders who are keeping students on the path to graduation. American Graduate Champions range from everyday heroes to high-ranking officials, and each story serves as an inspirational example of what is possible when concerned citizens work to improve outcomes for our nation’s children.  NET Learning Services produced three stories on Nebraska Champions: Willie Barney, Tracee Ford and Stacy Adamson, and Kyle McGowan.

Willie Barney, Omaha Empowerment Network President
Willie Barney has developed and oversees a network of over 500 organizations who seek to meet the needs of and improve conditions for young black men in the Omaha area. These solutions include integrating schools and funding to address the socioeconomic gaps, innovative targeted strategies for students including dual languages, focus, and magnet schools, and investing in excellence at every school so the needs (people, resources etc.) are matched to the school.
Tracee Ford & Stacy Adamson, Circle C Market Co-Founders (airing nationally)
The Cody-Kilgore Unified School District includes 553 square miles, stretches across two time zones and three area codes, and draws students from all over north central Nebraska. Cody is able to sustain such a powerful school because its residents think big. Stacey Adamson, middle school teacher, and Tracee Ford, art and Spanish teacher, came together to create a grocery store in the Village of Cody (without one for more than a decade), managed by a member of  the Cowboy G.R.I.T. (Growing, Revitalization, Investing, and Teamwork) committee, but run solely by students.
Tracee and Stacey Take On New York City!
The story of the Circle C Market in Cody, Nebraska was so inspiring to WNET, producer of American Graduate Day 2014, that co-founders Tracee Ford and Stacey Adamson along with NET Director of Community Engagement, Marthaellen Florence, were invited to attend the American Graduate kick-off event in New York City. As one of fourteen Stories of Champions to be included on the national broadcast of American Graduate Day 2014, Ford and Adamson, along with The Poynter Institute's Director of Community Relations & Diversity Programs, Kenny Irby from Tampa, Florida, were honored as an inspirational example of what is possible when concerned citizens work to improve outcomes for our nation’s children.
Dr. Kyle McGowan, Crete Public Schools Superintendent
About 24% of Crete Public Schools students are English Language Learners (ELL), almost four times the state average, and that number has increased more than 10% over the last 12 years. With the leadership of Superintendent Kyle McGowan, Crete Public Schools has invested significant resources in an early childhood education program for children from birth to five years old as well as in English language classes for parents, have added ELL staff, and are diligent in ensuring all communications with families are bilingual.

Additional video by Nebraska Loves Public Schools.



Additional Mini-Documentary by NET Learning Services

Byron Rhodes on the far right

The Empowerment Network, featuring Banister's Leadership Academy (airing nationally)
Also featured during the national broadcast is the work of the Omaha Empowerment Network’s African American Male Achievement Collaboration and one of its members,  Banister's Leadership Academy. The story focuses on the success of Byron Rhodes, a graduate of the Academy who now works within the Omaha community to help young African American males stay in school until graduation. Bryon’s story is told by himself as well as by Akile Banister, founder of Banister's Leadership Academy.




NET Learning Services
Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
Nebraska Department of Education
Nebraska Loves Public Schools
America’s Promise Alliance Grad Nation
Avenue Scholars Foundation
Buffett Early Childhood Fund
Center for Children, Families, and the Law
Coalition for Community Schools
Lincoln Community Foundation
Nebraska Community Learning Center Network
Nebraska Trucking Association

Project Liftoff
Urban League of Nebraska
United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County

United Way Readers, Tutors and Mentors

© 2014

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.


Photo Galleries

There’s a unique grocery store in a tiny town in north central Nebraska that’s unusual because of who owns and operates it. Cody is home to the Circle C Market.On a typical Thursday, staff at the Circle C Market check what’s in... more››
Cody, NE's Circle C Market Co-Founders Stacey Adamson and Tracee Ford were honored in New York City at the American Graduate Champions launch event in September, 2014. As one of fourteen Stories of Champions to be included on the... more››
As a special community outreach effort, the partners hosted an American Promise Tour with Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, parents of one of the young men in the film as well as creators of the documentary. The filmmakers... more››
In April of 2014, NET Learning Services, in partnership with a coalition of community partners in Omaha, hosted a Town Hall event centering on a broadcast of American Promise, which tells the story of two middle-class African-... more››