AT&T has announced a five-year, $250 million commitment to boost high school graduation rates nationwide.
Building on the success of AT&T Aspire, which has invested more than $100 million in educational initiatives since 2008, the commitment will focus on improving high school success and college and career readiness through an approach that uses technology to engage at-risk students. As part of the effort, AT&T Aspire will collaborate with innovators, educators, and other companies at AT&T Foundry innovation centers to develop cutting-edge solutions to educational obstacles; expand strategic alliances with organizations that specialize in developing and marketing new interactive learning tools; incorporate interactive "gamification" and social media tools into educational programs; and enable students in underserved communities to explore careers before graduation through internships in areas related to twenty-first century skills. AT&T also will collaborate on a nationwide initiative with GameDesk to transform traditional instruction and equalize education for all students.
Later this year, the telecommunications giant plans to launch the Aspire Mentoring Academy, which will enable AT&T employees to help students at risk of dropping out to succeed in school and life. Building on the success of its Job Shadow initiative with Junior Achievement, the company will create a program in which employee-student teams learn work/life skills, explore real business problems, and form lasting relationships. The company also will work to encourage more of its customers, partners, and other stakeholders to join the campaign; increase its financial commitment to local education-focused groups, especially those that embrace social innovation, focus on twenty-first century skills, or provide training in STEM fields for students in underserved communities; and support community organizations that specialize in helping students and improving the quality of education.
"It will take all of us working together and supporting the hard work of the education community to continue to improve graduation rates and preparedness for careers and college," said AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson. "American business has an enormous stake in the success of our students. It's time to commit more innovation and resources to the task."