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President Barack Obama to Deliver Televised Commencement Message During “GRADUATE TOGETHER: AMERICA HONORS THE HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020”

The former president will speak to America’s high school seniors, their families, and the American people during a primetime graduation special airing on Saturday, May 16, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. CT across all major networks and social media platforms

LOS ANGELES (May 5, 2020) – Former President Barack Obama will deliver a commencement message for America’s three million high school seniors during a televised, one-hour multimedia event, Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020.

Hosted by XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation, and The Entertainment Industry Foundation this primetime special will bring together notable figures to give a joyful tribute to America’s Class of 2020. Among those joining President Obama are LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, H.E.R., Ben Platt, and others.

President Obama will congratulate the Class of 2020 on their accomplishments over the past four years—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.”

During the program, President Obama will also be joined by several high school students who are part of the Obama Foundation’s work to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world, including seniors from Chicago Public Schools and members of the Obama Youth Jobs Corps. As part of its mission, the Obama Foundation is focused on engaging, training, and supporting the next generation of leaders to create positive change in their communities.

ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC will simultaneously air the special on May 16, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. CT, along with more than 20 other broadcast and digital streaming partners.


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 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.


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.


XQ Institute is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to rethinking the high school experience so 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 ​​ and follow @xqamerica.

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