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Twenty-five years ago, City Year was started to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support the students in the communities actually need, and what their schools are designed to provide. For over two decades the organization has helped increase graduation rates across the country, and changing the lives of the students they serve.

According to Variety.com, more than 1,400 guests  came together to help raise money for the organization and was able to amass over $1 million in donations.

Octavia Spencer was among this year’s participants and is active in the organization.

“I love the idea of kids helping kids and these young ambassadors are saying, ‘Hey, look I’ve been through it, I made it through it, you can, too,’” said Academy Award-winner  Spencer. “I think it is a tragedy the number of kids that don’t make it to graduation.”

Spencer said she has visited some of the 22 schools that the program reaches in Los Angeles and loves the work they’re doing. “Education unlocks the keys to all of life’s doors. You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be of a name, you just have to have that foundation. It’s all about giving kids that foundation,” she said.

Others showing their support included: Aaron Paul, Aloe Blacc, Betsy Brandt, Diego Boneta, Jason Bateman, Jenna Elfman, Minnie Driver, Sean Hayes, Timothy Olyphant and Usher.

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