On Saturday, October 3rd, POV and Robert Lee Henderson III, one of two young men featured in the upcoming documentary All the Difference (POV 2016), joined the live national broadcast of American Graduate Day 2015 from Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center, in New York City.
All the Difference is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities keep more students on the path to graduation. For the fourth year, American Graduate produced American Graduate Day, a seven-hour, multi-platform broadcast that leverages the power and reach of public media to champion the organizations and individuals dedicated to helping youth stay on track to graduation. Hosts and guests included first-lady Michelle Obama, President George W. Bush, Shaquille O’Neal, Allison Williams, Dolly Parton and more.
As part of the American Graduate Day 2015 broadcast, Robert flew to New York City from Denver, CO for a live interview with NJTV News correspondent Lauren Wanko to discuss his experience as one of the subjects of All the Difference and the factors that helped put him on a road to success.
Growing up in the south side of Chicago where, according to a 2012 report by the Schott Foundation, only 39% of African-American men graduate high school and approximately half that amount make it to college, Robert overcame incredible odds to graduate both high school and college and start his early career. He’s now one of two main subjects of the feature-length documentary, All the Difference, inspired by Wes Moore’s New York Times bestselling book, The Other Wes Moore, and produced and directed by Academy Award®-nominated and national Emmy-winning producer/director Tod Lending.
One of six siblings, all raised by their grandmother, Robert talked about the crucial role his grandmother played in keeping him on track through high school and college. After graduating college and reflecting on the people who made all the difference in his life, Robert wanted a chance give back to the community, and found his opportunity through City Year, an AmeriCorps service organization dedicated to supporting at-risk students across the country.
When asked what he wants viewers to take away the film, Robert said that he hopes students will walk away with the message: “Always be resilient. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
Combining relatable real-life stories on screen with solution-oriented tools on the ground, All the Difference can equip PBS stations, national and community organizations and educators with resources for their work with students, families, schools and communities. With an online College-Bound Student Handbook designed for first-generation high school students, a Facilitator’s Guide and Family Tip Sheets, All the Difference offers solution-oriented tools to help students on their path to college and beyond.
Watch Robert’s American Graduate Day interview.
Want more on American Graduate Day 2015? Check out this highlight reel from the broadcast.
About All the Difference (POV 2016)
Filmed over five years, All the Difference weaves together the stories of two promising young men as they navigate their lives in low-income, high-risk communities in Chicago. Statistics predict they will drop out of high school and succumb to life on the streets; both graduate and go on to college in spite of all the odds. The film explores the factors in their lives (parents and grandparents, teachers, role models and community support) that made all the difference – an example of prioritizing education as a tool to secure a place in the middle class. All the Difference will have its national broadcast premiere on POV in 2016. For more information and updates on the film and resources, sign up for the POV newsletter.