KNOXVILLE, TENN. (WATE) — The annual WATE 6 On Your Side Project GRAD telethon returns the second week in April. This year’s theme for Project GRAD Knoxville is “Tools for Success.” The theme describes how the program is expanding its efforts to help support recipients.

Since 2018, the telethon has raised more than $300,000 for deserving scholars. Last year’s donation total topped $70,000.

This year’s WATE-Knox Education Foundation Project GRAD Telethon is set for Wednesday, April 12. WATE 6 News Anchor Lori Tucker will once again serve as emcee for the telethon from the WATE 6 studio.

In a change this year, donations will go toward more than scholarships and laptops. The organization aims to ensure that each student has what they need to succeed in their next steps.

Here’s how to donate:

  • CALL | 865-582-4985
  • CLICK | To donate online, visit or head to to learn more about Project Grad, the people behind it, and hear from the students themselves. There is a link to the donation site there, as well.
  • WATCH | To view this year’s telethon event, watch WATE 6 News newscasts on Wednesday, beginning at 6 a.m.

About 700 Austin-East and Fulton GRAD scholars have completed post-secondary credentials from trade/technical programs, 2-year institutions, and 4-year colleges or universities, both public and private, and are serving in education, business, and public services across the state and nation.

Among those are Jahneulie Weste, who earned a 31 on her ACT and held a 4.53 GPA. Triplets Seth, Cassie and Keenan Vaughn have also benefited. Hear their story. Even the sons of 2-time Olympian Sharon Couch intentionally enrolled her sons in Austin-East, attracted by the hands-on concept of the Project Grad Knoxville program. Hear her explain.

Project GRAD operates in Fulton and Austin-East Magnet high schools, but the program supports student success throughout their entire academic career by offering resources and tools at Knox County elementary and middle schools.

Knox Education Foundation, established in 2020, is the home of the Project GRAD Knoxville program.

When the program began in 2001, the high school graduation rate at Project GRAD schools was 50%. As of 2019, it’s 82%. Postsecondary enrollment has also increased, growing from 30% to 56% for total graduating classes.