AT&T invests in dropout prevention

Over the next four years, AT&T will pour $100 million into grants, job-shadowing, research and public awareness in an effort to address what it calls a national high-school dropout crisis.

The new effort, dubbed AT&T Aspire, will be funded by the corporation and its affiliated foundation, and will leverage the volunteer time of its corporate employees, as well as the efforts of several partner organizations.

With almost one in three high-school students dropping out before they graduate, a total of 1.2 million children a year, the company says, AT&T Aspire is confronting the problem with a four-part approach.

Starting immediately, the AT&T Foundation will accept proposals from nonprofits and other local groups working to keep kids in high school.

To improve students’ success in high school, the corporation will work with Junior Achievement to match 100,000 students with AT&T employees, who collectively will donate 400,000 hours to allow students to observe employees at work.

Almost eight in 10 students who shadow employees on the job report an increased desire to stay in school, Junior Achievement says.

AT&T and America’s Promise Alliance will commission a new body of research, based on the perspectives of teachers and administrators, to determine why students drop out and how to keep them in school.

And in an effort to raise public awareness of the issue, AT&T will help fund a total of 100 dropout-prevention summits across all 50 states, to be led by America’s Promise Alliance.

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