AT&T Launches $100 Million Philanthropic Education Program, Job Shadowing for 100,000 Students, Research and Community Engagement Support to Address High School Dropout Crisis
Chicago, Illinois, April 17, 2008
Doing its part to help address the issue of nearly one-third of U.S. high school students dropping out, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) today announced the launch of AT&T Aspire, a $100 million philanthropic program, which includes job shadowing for 100,000 students nationwide, to help strengthen student success and workforce readiness.
"In the U.S., 1.2 million students drop out of high school every year. This has implications for individuals and for our nation's global economic leadership," said AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, who will address the topic Thursday at the Economic Club of Chicago. "AT&T Aspire is about supporting the great work already underway to help our kids succeed in school, and helping students see the connection between education and their best future."
Through the Aspire initiative, AT&T and the AT&T Foundation are committing $100 million (over four years, 2008 - 2011) toward high school success and workforce readiness. The platform includes four key elements:
- Grants to schools and nonprofit organizations that are focused on helping students graduate from high school and become better prepared for college and/or the workforce.
- A student job shadowing initiative, involving 400,000 AT&T employee hours, that will give 100,000 students a firsthand look at the skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century workforce.
- The underwriting of national research that will explore the practitioner perspective (teachers, principals, superintendents, school counselors and school board members) on the high school dropout issue.
- Support for 100 state and community Dropout Prevention summits, announced earlier this month by America's Promise Alliance.
America's Promise Alliance recently noted that nearly one-third of U.S. high school students drop out before graduating — with about 7,000 students dropping out every school day, or one every 26 seconds. And, March statistics from the U.S. Labor Department show that the 8.2 percent jobless rate for Americans with less than a high school education is 60 percent higher than the overall jobless rate of 5.1 percent.
This issue has significant long-term implications for workforce readiness and continued U.S. leadership in the global economy, Stephenson said.
According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, students who are unprepared to enter college cost the U.S. economy more than $3.7 billion annually in lost earnings and remedial education costs. And, according to the landmark study "The Silent Epidemic" by John Bridgeland, a high school dropout earns, on average, $9,200 less a year than a high school graduate and about $1 million less over a lifetime than a college graduate.
$100 Million AT&T Aspire Program Will Fund Education, Workforce Grants
As one of the largest-ever corporate commitments to high school retention and workforce readiness, the $100 million AT&T Aspire program will support proven organizations that promote educational success, from the classroom to the workplace.
Beginning this month, the AT&T Foundation — the corporate philanthropy organization of AT&T Inc. — will solicit grant proposals from schools and local organizations focused on high school retention.
AT&T Launches Unprecedented Companywide Job Shadow Initiative
The company's job shadowing initiative involves committing 400,000 employee volunteer hours to reach 100,000 students over the next five years. The program will pair AT&T employees with students in grades 9-12 so that students can experience the world of work and see firsthand the kinds of skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.
"AT&T is uniquely positioned to inspire tomorrow's workforce through job shadowing," said Bill Blase, senior executive vice president, Human Resources for AT&T. "With more than 300,000 employees, we are ready to motivate students and show them what a dynamic and diverse workplace is all about."
AT&T will work with Junior Achievement to administer and execute the effort. Junior Achievement is a recognized leader in job shadowing and a key member of the National Job Shadow Coalition, which also includes the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor and America's Promise Alliance. The AT&T program is the largest-ever corporate job shadowing initiative Junior Achievement has undertaken.
Job shadowing is a proven way to improve high school success. According to Junior Achievement, 79 percent of students participating in job shadowing report that the program increased their desire to stay in school.
"We are thrilled that AT&T is joining forces with Junior Achievement to address one of the biggest challenges facing our young people and the businesses for whom they would work — lack of work-readiness skills," said Jack Kosakowski, executive vice president and chief operating officer of JA Worldwide and president of Junior Achievement USA. "This partnership makes the critical connection between classroom lessons and the world of work so that students enter the workforce ready to contribute and succeed."
AT&T's two major unions, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, are supporting the job shadowing initiative.
AT&T to Underwrite Landmark Research, Dropout Prevention Summits
Picking up where his seminal education study, "The Silent Epidemic," left off, John Bridgeland will turn his research to the perspectives of teachers and school administrators on the high school dropout crisis, including why students drop out, the barriers to keeping more students engaged and effective strategies to ensure more students stay on track to graduate. The research is being commissioned by AT&T and America's Promise Alliance.
"The statistics on our nation's dropout crisis are alarming, and the consequences of this crisis are devastating personally, socially, economically and civically," said Bridgeland. "This research will help provide schools and communities with important new perspectives to design policies and initiatives that will help address the dropout epidemic."
In addition, AT&T will help underwrite 100 state and community dropout-prevention summits. Led by America's Promise Alliance — the nation's largest partnership alliance working on behalf of children and youth — the summits will be held in all 50 states. The summits will increase public awareness of the dropout crisis, serve as a call to action for all Americans and develop workable solutions to improve graduation rates.
"Nearly one-third of all public high school students — and nearly one-half of minority students — fail to graduate with their classmates," said Marguerite Kondracke, president and CEO of America's Promise Alliance. "Through our Dropout Prevention summits, we will work closely with states and communities, listening to families, schools and students to find the best ways to fight the growing dropout crisis — and apply those lessons as quickly as possible."
Stephenson said, "Investing in a well-educated workforce may be the single most important thing we can do to help America remain the leader in a digital, global economy."
For more information about the AT&T Aspire initiative, please visit www.att.com/education-news.
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About JA Worldwide® (Junior Achievement)
JA Worldwide is the world's largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, JA Worldwide provides in-school and after-school educational programs for students which focus on three key content areas: entrepreneurship, work readiness, and financial literacy. Today, 140 individual area operations reach approximately four million students in the United States, with an additional 3.3 million students served by operations in 119 other countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.ja.org.
About the America's Promise Alliance
America's Promise Alliance is the nation's largest partnership alliance comprised of corporations, nonprofit organizations, foundations, policymakers, advocacy and faith groups committed to ensuring that children receive the fundamental resources — the Five Promises — they need to lead successful, healthy and productive lives and build a stronger society. Building on the legacy of our founder General Colin Powell, the Alliance believes a child's success is grounded in experiencing the Five Promises — caring adults; safe place; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others — at home, in school and in the community. For more information visit: www.americaspromise.org.
About Civic Enterprises
Civic Enterprises is a public policy firm that helps corporations, nonprofits, foundations, universities and governments develop and spearhead innovative public policies to strengthen our communities and country. President and CEO John M. Bridgeland authored "The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts," which showed that most dropouts could have graduated from high school if they had had more support. Bridgeland also led the National Summit on America's Silent Epidemic with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Governors Association, TIME Magazine and MTV that prompted action at the federal, state and local levels around a 10 point plan of action to increase graduation rates and college and workforce readiness. For more information, visit www.civicenterprises.net.
About Jobs for America's Graduates
Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) is a non-profit organization and youth development program dedicated to helping at-risk youth graduate from high school and make successful transitions to postsecondary education and meaningful employment. JAG has served over 550,000 youth since its inception in 1980 and is currently helping 40,000 young people in 700 high schools, middle schools, community colleges and other locations in 27 states to achieve academic, career and life success. For more information, visit www.jag.org.
About Philanthropy at AT&T
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives and partnerships, AT&T supports projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2007, AT&T contributed more than $164 million through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs. AT&T and the AT&T Foundation, the corporate philanthropy organization of AT&T, combine more than $1.9 billion of historic charitable commitment to communities across the country.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company. Its subsidiaries and affiliates, AT&T operating companies, are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. Among their offerings are the world's most advanced IP-based business communications services and the nation's leading wireless, high speed Internet access and voice services. In domestic markets, AT&T is known for the directory publishing and advertising sales leadership of its Yellow Pages and YELLOWPAGES.COM organizations, and the AT&T brand is licensed to innovators in such fields as communications equipment. As part of its three-screen integration strategy, AT&T is expanding its TV entertainment offerings. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at www.att.com.
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