America’s Promise Alliance (the Alliance) and AT&T* today announced the winners of the My Idea grants program, an initiative to engage young people in an effort to keep their peers in school. AT&T’s $1 million contribution to the Alliance to fund the re-granting initiative has enabled them to provide young people nationwide with the opportunity to develop and implement their own ideas for increasing the nation’s graduation rate. A total of 110 winners were selected by the Alliance from applicants representing 35 states and the District of Columbia, to receive funding of up to $20,000 each for their youth-led projects.
My Idea grants were offered on both a national and local level to ensure student applicants from across the country had the opportunity to compete for funding for their projects. National grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 have been awarded to 36 youth to fund community-wide projects to take place over the 2010-2011 school-year. Local grants ranging from $500 to $1,500 have been awarded to 74 youth in targeted schools and neighborhoods in 10 Alliance-identified communities. These local grants will also focus on a collaborative effort to increase high school graduation rates and programs will take place this fall. Recipients of both national and local My Idea grants will be paired with skilled Alliance partners in their community to carry out their proposals.
“America’s Promise Alliance and AT&T’s collaborated effort to inspire youth to become proactive in helping their classmates graduate on time highlights the joint commitment to make this country a Grad Nation,” said Marguerite Kondracke, President and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “The My Idea grant program is a perfect example of engaging all the critical stakeholders in the fight to help end the high school dropout crisis by supporting outstanding initiatives proposed by young people from around the country.”
The following individuals are a sampling of the local and national recipients of a My Idea grant:
- Akil Gregory, of Akron, OH, along with a team of other students submitted an idea titled Griffins Moving Towards Success that has been granted $19,500. Griffins are the mascot for Buchtel High School. As a rising senior, Gregory feels that students at Buchtel are not perceived as diverse, achievement oriented and successful. In order to change that negative perception, the idea proposed focuses on ninth graders by providing mentors, connecting to caring adults, and creating user friendly information for students and parents. The project will also include a video story collection and a college visit. The youth-led project will partner with the local organization Project GRAD Akron.
- Elizabeth Rix, of Brooklyn, NY, proposed a local initiative titled SPEAK (Students, Parents, Educators Act with Knowledge) that has been awarded $1,500. At 14, Rix had already observed that youth in her neighborhood of Bushwick face many issues such as poverty, gangs and lack of family support. After finding out that schools in her neighborhood average only a 63% graduation rate, 12 points behind the state average, Rix and her team proposed a forum with a panel discussion to come up with data on why area youth are falling behind. Youth, parents, teachers, and elected officials will be invited with the hope that conversations on the issue will motivate action in the community.
“Our youth have credibility with their peers, and need to be directly involved in charting solutions to the dropout issue,” said Charlene Lake, Senior Vice President-Public Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer for AT&T. “Through this initiative not only are their voices heard, but they also are learning how to work within their communities to translate ideas into action.”
The AT&T contribution and the My Idea Grants program are an important component of Grad Nation, the next phase of the Alliance’s highly successful Dropout Prevention campaign. A 10-year initiative, Grad Nation is focused on mobilizing Americans to end the dropout crisis and ensuring that young people have the key supports they need for college and a 21st century career. This work will pay special attention to areas of the country where the need is the greatest, especially communities surrounding the nation’s 2,000 lowest-performing high schools, which account for approximately 50 percent of all young people who drop out of school.
AT&T’s contribution is one of the largest gifts ever made to the Alliance and was made through the AT&T Aspire program, the corporation’s $100 million commitment to help students succeed in high school, the workforce, and in life.
AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. As part of its commitment, AT&T launched Aspire in April 2008. AT&T Aspire is one of the largest-ever corporate commitments to address high school success and workforce readiness.
To view a full list of My Idea grant recipients and to learn more about Grad Nation initiatives please visit: www.americaspromise.org.