NEW YORK, June 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B) and the Get Schooled Foundation, in partnership with the White House, will present the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge Special on Viacom's cable networks BET, Centric, Comedy Central, MTV2, MTVU, TeenNick and TV Land. The 30-minute special follows the experiences of students at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee, as they win this year's Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, and the opportunity to host the most sought after graduation speaker – President Barack Obama.
The special will air on BET and Centric on Wednesday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET; Comedy Central on Monday, June 13 at 4:00 p.m. ET; MTV2 on Tuesday, June 7 at 8:00 a.m. ET and Saturday, June 11 at 6:00 a.m. ET; MTVU on Saturday, June 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET and Saturday, June 18 at 9:00 a.m. ET; TeenNick on Thursday, June 9 at 3:00 p.m. ET; Saturday, June 11 at 1:30 p.m. ET and Sunday, June 12 at 8:30 a.m. ET; and TV Land on Tuesday, June 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET.
The 2011 Challenge marks the second consecutive year that Viacom and the Get Schooled Foundation, co-founded by Viacom, partnered with the White House on the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. As the first phase of the challenge, the nation's public high schools were invited in February to submit applications that demonstrated their commitment to preparing students for college and a career. Hundreds of applications were received and judged based on the schools' performance, essay questions and supplemental data. Six finalists were then selected for their creativity in engaging and supporting students, academic results, and progress in preparing students to graduate college and be ready for careers. Finally, once the six finalists were selected, Viacom, on behalf of the Get Schooled Foundation, dispatched a team of producers from its networks to each school to help the students produce a video for the online voting portion of the contest. President Obama selected the winner from the top three publicly rated schools.
Last month, Vice President Joseph Biden announced Booker T. Washington High School as the 2011 winning school. President Obama delivered the commencement address at the school's graduation ceremony on Monday, May 16.
The President said in his commencement address to the students at Booker T. Washington, "We are here today because every single one of you stood tall and said, 'Yes, we can.' Yes, we can learn. Yes, we can succeed. You decided you would not be defined by where you come from but by where you want to go, by what you want to achieve, by the dreams you hope to fulfill." The President continued, "Education teaches you the value of discipline -- that the greatest rewards come not from instant gratification but from sustained effort and from hard work."
Carl Folta, Viacom's Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications, said, "The journey of Booker T. Washington High School is an inspiring story that movingly illustrates how motivated students and teachers can achieve their goals. Their hard work and determination not only resulted in educational success but also enabled them to realize the dream of hosting the President of the United States at their graduation ceremony. Viacom and its networks were honored to partner again this year with the White House to further our commitment to improving educational outcomes for America's students and to continue to shine a light on our educational system."
"The story of Booker T. Washington is an inspiration to students and communities around the country," said Marie Groark, Executive Director of the Get Schooled Foundation. "They have shown us what can happen when you set goals, work together, and maintain a laser like focus on success. History is not our destiny. We can create our own destiny."
Viacom is home to the world's premier entertainment brands. Through its BET Networks, MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures divisions, Viacom connects with audiences through compelling content across television, motion picture, online and mobile platforms in more than 160 countries and territories. With approximately 170 media networks reaching more than 600 million global subscribers, Viacom's leading brands include MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, BET, CENTRIC, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., TeenNick, Nicktoons, Nick at Nite, COMEDY CENTRAL, TV Land, Spike TV and Tr3s. Paramount Pictures, America's oldest film studio and creator of many of the most beloved motion pictures, continues today as a major global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment. Viacom operates a large portfolio of branded digital media experiences, including many of the world's most popular properties for entertainment, community and casual online gaming.
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About Get Schooled
Get Schooled engages and empowers Americans to help improve high school graduation rates, improve college readiness and raise college completion rates. It is the only consumer-facing education initiative that aims to complement and support the work of the broader education reform community by leveraging the creative talent, digital and media assets and resources of the country's top media and consumer brands to truly connect with Americans. An independent non-profit organization, the Get Schooled Foundation's founders include Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with significant support from AT&T.
In the fall of 2010, Get Schooled's National Challenge and Tour inspired 300,000 Americans to step up and make a commitment to improve education. These Americans were inspired by celebrities like Ludacris, Carmelo Anthony, Keri Hilson, and Common, each of whom joined the Get Schooled movement and used their personal stories to inspire and stress the importance of education. In addition to the National Challenge and Tour, Get Schooled initiatives include: Get Schooled: You Have the Right Roadblock which aired on 23 Viacom channels and attracted almost 13 million viewers (Fall 2009), President Obama's Race To The Top Commencement Challenge (Spring 2010, 2011), New York Stock Exchange's Ring the Bell Contest (Spring 2010), Paramount Pictures' Waiting for "Superman" (2010/11), MTV's Get Schooled College Affordability Challenge (Fall 2010) and the Get MotivatED Challenge (2011).