Get Schooled and the Chainsmokers Celebrate Tulsa School’s Soaring Graduation Rates

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Fresh off topping a billion and a half YouTube views of their smash hit Closer, the Chainsmokers used their ever-growing profile to acknowledge something special happening in Tulsa: soaring graduation and college acceptance rates at Webster High School.

In a partnership with Get Schooled, an organization founded through a partnership between Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the duo crashed senior day at the Oklahoma high school, where 90 percent of a diverse student body is eligible for free or reduced lunch. After dazzling students at an assembly, the band gave every member of the school’s senior class a ticket to their concert that night at Tulsa’s BOK Center.

“We wanted to inspire them to go off and do an art, or whatever it is after this, and if we can be a part of it, that’s great,” the Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggert told Marty Kasper of News on 6, a local television news show, as he stood alongside bandmate Alex Paul following the assembly.

The Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggert and Alex Paul address students at Webster High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of Tulsa Public Schools.

Over the course of an ongoing four-year partnership with Diplomas Now, a national organization dedicated to improving retention and graduation rates, Webster’s graduation rate has jumped to over 75 percent from just over 50 percent, while the number of college-bound seniors has risen by 33 percent.

“The Webster High School community, in partnership with Diplomas Now, united the school around a common goal:  improved graduation,” said Get Schooled Executive Director Marie Groark. “Incredibly, they engaged every teacher and student in this work and in doing so have demonstrated to the nation what is possible when schools and partners work together. We are excited to recognize their hard work and success.”

The students seemed thrilled with the encounter. “I’m really excited,” Darius Arney told News on 6’s Kasper. “I can’t believe they’re actually here.” Check out the station’s full report from the school:

NewsOn6.com – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – KOTV.com |

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Viacom Wins Social Good Category at 9th Annual Shorty Awards With Innovative Get Schooled Campaign

“Want to get that paper? You better turn in that paper.”

 – DJ Khaled, Major Keys Campaign

Since 2009, Viacom and Get Schooled have worked to motivate low-income students to graduate from high school and succeed in college, using cutting-edge technology and pop culture to pique kids’ interest in academia. One of Get Schooled’s most recent endeavors, a PSA called Major Keys Campaign that stars music mogul, DJ Khaled, won the Social Good Category—beating out 48 other entries—at the prestigious Shorty Awards, which honor talented content creators and producers on social media.

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Viacom Wins Eight Cynopsis Social Good Awards, Including Impact Honors for Its LISTEN Addiction Initiative

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Anchored by its stigma-crushing LISTEN addiction initiative, Viacom brands underscored the companywide commitment to social responsibility by earning seven honors at the Cynopsis Social Good Awards ceremony in New York City this morning.

LISTEN, which earned the Impact Campaign distinction, is a multi-dimensional campaign grounded in the belief that compassion and awareness are central elements to fighting the scourge of addiction. A partnership with Facing Addiction, LISTEN unites addiction-fighting resources with transformational video stories of individuals who have fought from nearly hopeless circumstances to become inspirations for those still struggling to find sobriety.

This video is just one in a series posted on heretolisten.com. A LISTEN special that aired across 11 Viacom networks has been viewed more than 2 million times and drove 38.1 million social impressions and more than 56,000 engagements across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Debi Mazar, one of the stars of TV Land’s hit Younger, appeared alongside Niels Schuurmans, executive vice president of Viacom Velocity, to accept the award on the company’s behalf.

“I am so proud to see Viacom mobilize the voice and reach of its channels to take action in breaking down the shame and stigma around addiction and address it for what it is – a health issue,” Mazar said. “Media has the power to change hearts and minds. And LISTEN is doing that one story and conversation at a time.”

LISTEN also took top honors in the Branded Campaign for a TV Series or Special Programming category.

Logo earned a pair of honors. The network’s stirring Trailblazer Honors ceremony served as a tribute to victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre and took the Philanthropic/Human Rights Campaign category, while its Fill in the Blank push around Pride Month earned best Branded Campaign for a Digital or Mobile Platform.

BET Networks also took two categories. Its HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) Snapchat tour earned best Digital Media Campaign:


While the network’s understated Vote Your Voice spots earned top Hash Tag Promotion:

Viacom International Media Networks earned the last two honor, in the Public Service Announcement and Best Spot (30 Seconds or Less) categories, both for Nickelodeon’s Together for Good collaboration with UNICEF, which works to protect disadvantaged children around the world.

In addition to the Impact Award, Viacom received 44 total nominations across 21 categories and an impressive array of brands, including Nick Jr., Spike, Viacom International Media Networks, MTV, VH1, and our Viacom Velocity in-house agency.

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Get Schooled Scores a Spot on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in Gaming List

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The lighting-thumbed gamer diehards will nod in knowing agreement as they glance at Fast Company’s roll call of the 10 most innovative companies in gaming – streamer Twitch, gamemakers 2K and Activision Blizzard, founding father of modern gaming Nintendo. But the name at number nine might teach even the most seasoned gamer something brand new: Get Schooled, the non-profit organization whose primary mission is inspiring students to finish high school and succeed in college.

How exactly does an organization founded via a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom crash a who’s who of modern gaming giants? By adopting the fearless attitude and experimental dynamic of a Silicon Valley start-up driven to solve an complex problem.

“Get Schooled has a track record of success in part because we have adopted the principles of a high performing tech start up: we value partnerships, use data to continuously improve and have learned how to fail fast,” said Marie Groark, Executive Director of Get Schooled.

Those improvements have hinged upon a bold and vast adventure into gamification, a realm that many high school students know well and require no primer to engage with. The pivot began just two years after Get Schooled launched in 2010, transforming www.getschooled.com into an immersive gamified universe, where competition, point scoring and rules have engaged millions of young people, who can cash out their points for stuff like autographed gear from NBA and NFL stars, calculators or backpacks in a rewards store sponsored by the organization.

Students can also earn scholarships, or celebrity appearances by the likes of DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj, James Harden, KeKe Palmer, Nick Cannon, Ne-Yo, Chance the Rapper and Ludacris. Check out Kendrick Lamar’s visit to Bethel High School in Alaska, a former “drop-out factory” that earned the visit by winning one of Get Schooled’s national points-based competitions:

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Viacom, Tacos, and Times Square: How 300 Young Adults Celebrated the Importance of Education

by Marie Groark, Executive Director, Get Schooled

Viacom, Get Schooled, and the Taco Bell Foundation teamed up once again this spring for a project called Times Square Yearbook. We asked young people to tell us how education has helped them pursue their passions. The kids with the best answers earned a spot on a Times Square billboard and a $1,000 scholarship.

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The winners of this year's Get Schooled initiative celebrated on June 8 in Times Square. Read More

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The Taco Train to Times Square: a Delicious Start to Paying for College

by Marie Groark, Executive Director, Get Schooled

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Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and others ringing the bell at the NASDAQ exchange. Read More

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They call Times Square the Crossroads of the World. It is the hub of media, arts, and business in New York City.  Tens of thousands of New Yorkers work in Times Square and millions of tourists flock to it every year. So what better place to recognize some of America’s greatest high school students.

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GET SCHOOLED, Comcast’s Internet Essentials Team Up to Inspire Thousands of Chicago Students

by Marie Groark, Executive Director, Get Schooled

This fall, Get Schooled partnered with Comcast’s Internet Essentials to create the Get Schooled Get Connected Challenge.   The Challenge engaged thousands of students in more than 48 community based organizations and high schools across Chicago with a goal of connecting students with digital content aimed at preparing them for college.  The most active students across the city earned a ticket to a star-studded celebrity event at Malcolm X College on Martin Luther King Day. Read More

The First Lady, Viacom and Get Schooled Move FAFSA-Forward

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First Lady Michelle Obama takes a selfie with Baltimore student Lawrence Lawson’s phone following a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) workshop at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., Feb. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

What do you get when you bring the First Lady, a high school valedictorian and Viacom’s most creative minds together? A true Viacommunity effort!

Teamwork, wit and humor were in the air two weeks ago as employee volunteers gathered to brainstorm. The assignment: a public service announcement (PSA) with First Lady Michelle Obama encouraging students to complete the FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), as part of the “FAFSA-Forward” campaign from the Get Schooled Foundation and its founding partner Viacom. The campaign encourages students to get the money they need for their college education. Read More

TRANSFORM-ing Detroit

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom

 Allegra Clegg

More businesses, artists, activists and entrepreneurs are focusing on Detroit as a hotbed for innovation and inspiration. In 2010, Paramount Pictures filmed Transformers: Dark of the Moon in Detroit and this year marked the production return of the 4th installment of the franchise, Transformers: Age of Extinction. Filming in the Motor City brings a pleasant boost to the economy, and last week the franchise also lifted the spirits of hundreds of young people at Durfee Elementary-Middle School, when throngs of excited students welcomed Transformer co-producer and Hollywood all-star Allegra Clegg to their school.

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1 Million Students Can’t Be Wrong…

by Marie Groark, Executive Director, Get Schooled

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Thank you to all our partners at Viacom for a most incredible year.  In 2013, Get Schooled grew its audience an impressive 48%, and in the process, we were able to identify significant best practices in engaging and inspiring young people around their education.  We could not have affected the lives of so many students without your partnership and support.  Our year-end infographic above shares our most valuable insights. Read More