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Graduate Together: America Honors The High School Class Of 2020 Special Will Air May 16

This graduation special to America's high school seniors will feature stars like LeBron James, the Jonas Brothers, H.E.R., and many more!
Posted on May 8, 2020 | 07:00am
With the nation's high schools closed amid the coronavirus, graduation ceremonies across the country have been canceled.

But XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation, and The Entertainment Industry Foundation are joining together to pay tribute to the Class of 2020 with a one-hour multimedia special event, Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, which will feature a commencement message from former President Barack Obama.

The special will air Saturday, May 16 at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.

STREAM: More Specials Like Graduate Together: America Honors The High School Class Of 2020 On CBS All Access

"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."

Who's participating in Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020?
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.

Newly announced talent, educators, and leaders include Kane Brown, Lana Condor, David Dobrik, Dolan Twins, KAROL G, Liza Koshy, Maren Morris, National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson, Olivia Wilde, and Zendaya.

They join previously announced participants 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.

Former President Barack Obama will deliver a commencement message for America's three million high school seniors during the event, and reflect on the past two months as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced students in every high school across the country to adjust to new ways of learning and connecting and miss out on highly anticipated rites of passage like graduation.

"This high school graduation season will be anything but ordinary—but that's all the more reason why the Class of 2020 deserves extraordinary advice, heartfelt encouragement, and hard-won wisdom about facing new challenges in an uncertain world," said Russlynn Ali, CEO and co-founder of XQ Institute. "We are grateful to President Obama for giving this gift to our nation's three million high school seniors as they #GraduateTogether."

How can I watch or stream Graduate Together: America Honors the High School 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.

You can watch Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 on CBS All Access, which is available on iOS devices (including iPhones, iPads, Apple TV), Android devices (including phones, tablets, Android TV), TVs and connected devices (including LG Smart TV, Samsung Smart TV, Vizio Smart TV, Chromecast, FireTV, Roku), gaming consoles (including Xbox and PlayStation 4), smart home devices (including Amazon Alexa and Google Home) and many more!

Or, simply visit

How can I honor a graduating senior I know?
#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, will invite high school students everywhere to share their portraits in celebration of being part of the graduating Class of 2020. Local television stations will also feature custom breakaways to celebrate the achievements of high school students in their own communities.

Everyone will have the opportunity to interact with the #GraduateTogether campaign, leading up to the primetime graduation celebration and beyond. Students, educators, and families can share their stories with the campaign at or by tagging their posts on social media with the #GraduateTogether hashtag.

Twitter has released a special emoji to accompany the hashtag in honor of the high school Class of 2020. And world-renowned artist JR and his participatory art project Inside Out have partnered with Snapchat and #GraduateTogether to build the largest-ever high school yearbook.

Who is behind Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020?
XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation, and The Entertainment Industry Foundation are sponsoring the event.

"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."

‚ÄčIn 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 and PeopleTV.

Schools are often the source of stability in a young person’s life, providing education, meals, and a place to stay safe. #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."

Don't miss Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, which will be broadcast commercial-free on Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.