PBS SoCal Gala Celebrates Education for Youth

Photo Courtesy of Mathew Imaging for PBS SoCal

Erin Gruwell’s Freedom Writers are Honored by PBS SoCal President & CEO Andrew Russell. Photo Courtesy of Mathew Imaging for PBS SoCal

On April 9th, PBS SoCal held its 8th annual gala, entitled “Some Enchanted Evening,” which celebrated the importance of educating children and young adults. Held at the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach, Calif., the President & CEO of PBS SoCal, Andrew Russell, was on hand to honor both Erin Gruwell, a teacher who transformed her students’ lives for the better, and the Fred Rogers Company, the largest producer of PBS’ illustrious programs.

With decades of due diligence to its name, there hasn’t been a better multimedia entity than PBS SoCal that does a more proficient job of taking responsibility for the impact the media can have on children. Empowered by over 50 partnerships with community organizations, PBS SoCal is distinguished by its admirable slate of programming, particularly its 12 hours of educational shows for children, daily.

Not to mention, PBS SoCal underscores arts, culture, and music that are perhaps on the periphery of the mainstream media, but are no less life-changing and transformative. In total, PBS SoCal has established a rich and commendable reputation over the years for spotlighting well-deserving people and organizations who are helpful to others.

One of these wonderfully noteworthy people is Erin Gruwell, a former teacher at Long Beach’s Woodrow Wilson High School during the mid 1990s, who personally took it upon herself to ensure her students’ long-term success. And she did so by founding the Freedom Writers Foundation in order to encourage her pupils to use the power of positivity, using the stroke of a pen, to fulfill the potential within themselves. The Freedom Writers Diary, the No. 1 New York Times Bestseller, co-authored by Gruwell and 150 of her students, is proof of this as it highlights the significance of personal agency and will-powered life outcomes.

Floral Creations by Enzo Photo Courtesy of Mathew Imaging for PBS SoCal

Dinner Table Decor at the Gala. Photo Courtesy of Mathew Imaging for PBS SoCal

Gruwell remembers how the vision she had for her students began with one simple question.

“I asked the principal for new books and field trips and he said, ‘yes!’”

Moreover, the possibility for positive change for her students, she recounts, was dependent upon them essentially re-learning how to see themselves for the very first time.

“I look like you, I talk like you, I come from where you come from, and I can dare to dream and dream big,” Gruwell says on behalf of every one of her students who realized they had nothing less than anyone who has ever achieved greatness.

Also commemorated was the Fred Rogers Company, which looks forward to continuing the legacy built by the legendary man whom the organization is named after. The late Rogers, who did his part to responsibly educate children by imparting invaluable wisdom, always believed “how important one can be to people even to those whom one has never met.”

President & CEO Russell, who spoke glowingly of Mister Rogers’ influence on the educational system – including the “Ready to Learn” initiative, which has been a resounding success since 1991 – is aware of the beneficial effects that responsible programming has on growing children.

Photo Courtesy of Mathew Imaging for PBS SoCal

PBS SoCal President & CEO Andrew Russell with Erin Gruwell and Presenter Tiffony Jacobs. Photo Courtesy of Mathew Imaging for PBS SoCal

“Through PBS’ support and hard work, young children in Southern California and across the country can watch phenomenal programs to help them understand their learning, growing, and be encouraged,” says Russell.

Most importantly, what makes PBS SoCal the benchmark and beacon of quality programming for children is the fact that it has the charitable patronage of those who rightly believe PBS’ ability to make a difference.

Russell, who represents PBS SoCal with class and dignity, dutifully recognizes the scope of this:

“The station invests time and effort in working with the community to deal with the obstacles that children may encounter. We have the resources at PBS with broadening digital platforms, organizational partnerships (e.g., libraries, parks) and the help of all those who work with children [to ensure their future success].”


For more information about PBS SoCal, please visit


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