Community Support from PBS SoCal Gala Advances Organization’s Education Services

COSTA MESA, Calif. (April 14, 2016) – PBS SoCal, the flagship PBS station for Greater Los Angeles and Southern California, celebrated the generous support of the community at its eighth annual gala. More than 225 supporters attended the gala at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa on Saturday. Proceeds from the evening are pledged at over $480,000 and benefit the educational content, resources and experiences PBS SoCal brings to the community.

“Over the last five years, we have strengthened our programming, reached out to audiences and expanded our education services – partnering with schools and after-school programs across the region to help young children become ready for school,” said Andrew Russell, PBS SoCal President and CEO. “Our community has shown extraordinary support for these efforts – and for the efforts of our honorees the Fred Rogers Company and Erin Gruwell – whose work to help children learn and grow is truly inspiring.”

Only 32% of low-income 3 and 4-year-olds in California are enrolled in preschool and are therefore unprepared for school, and nearly 20 percent of all California students do not graduate from high school. Educational opportunities to stem these crises are often difficult to access. So PBS SoCal helps to close the achievement gap and change the way children learn through free educational content, tools and experiences available on-air, online, and in the community. Plus, the Ready to Learn and American Graduate initiatives are focused specifically on helping prepare young children for school and encouraging youth to graduate from high school well prepared for college and life.

This year’s gala honored the legacy of The Fred Rogers Company, which revolutionized educational television and taught millions of children self-esteem, creativity, curiosity, appreciation of diversity, persistence and more. They were honored for their efforts to build on Fred Rogers’ legacy through their highly-rated, award-winning PBS KIDS’ series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Peg + Cat, and Odd Squad. Also honored was Erin Gruwell, a Southern California teacher, author, and founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation which transformed the lives of young people, inspiring them, developing their creative skills, and helping them forge a path in life. Tiffony Jacobs, one of Gruwell’s students captured in their collective journey in The Freedom Writers Diary, presented the honor.

The evening included a reception, dinner, live auction, and entertainment by JT & Friends, a 55-member ensemble of horns, strings, woodwinds, keyboards, percussion and singers fronted by longtime PBS SoCal supporter John Tu. The All American Boys Chorus, Kara Shaw, and Tausala Polynesia also performed. The unique live auction experiences included an evening with CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg; concert tickets and backstage passes to meet multiplatinum-selling recording artist, songwriter, and internationally known and renowned performer Josh Groban; and an exclusive tour of the Walt Disney Studios and Archives in Burbank with Golden Globe-winning Film Producer Don Hahn.

This year’s sponsors: John & Mary Tu, FivePoint Communities, KTN Enterprises, Inc., California Community Foundation, Edison International, Gibson Dunn, Jim and Kelly Mazzo, Jim and Vivian McCluney, Meridian Graphics, U.S. Bank Commercial Banking, Union Bank, Jo Ellen Chatham, Bill and Crissy Cheney, Cristine Del Amo, Judi Garfi-Partridge, Goran and Susan Matijasevic, Bobby McDonald, Carolyn Powell, and ST.GEORGE & CARNEGIE. Underwriting sponsors: Bob Romney, Parking Company of America and Snell & Wilmer. Special thanks to: Suzy Casey; The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation; Margaret Gates; Mrs. Douglas Goodan; Johnny Carson Foundation; Jenny Jones; Mary and Phil Lyons; Wendy and Barry Meyer; Peggy and Tom Mitchell; and John and Mary Tu.

About PBS SoCal KOCE
PBS SoCal KOCE is the home to PBS for Greater Los Angeles and Southern California, dedicated to fostering a love of learning, culture and community using the power of public media. We deliver the full schedule of high-quality PBS programs, plus content that is for, about and by the people of Southern California. We make our content available for free through three broadcast channels– PBS SoCal/KOCE-HD, PBS SoCal Plus and PBS SoCal World. It is also available anytime, anywhere at, on our mobile apps, and via connected TV services. And we reach deep into the community through partnerships, events and grassroots outreach, providing early education resources and access to a broad array of arts and culture experiences. PBS SoCal has offices in Century City, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles. Learn more at and follow PBS SoCal on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.