As January moves forward, I’m working on keeping my New Year’s resolutions. As I wrote previously, one of my top priorities is helping kids stay in school by working with organizations that have proven results.
That’s why I’m excited to announce that as part of Aspire, AT&T is making a contribution of more than $1.7 million to Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) to expand its successful BE GREAT: Graduate program to serve even more students. This initiative helps students during their transition to high school and, with our contribution, will expand to include a 9th Grade Cohort program. We also will be able to provide even more opportunities for students to work with AT&T employee mentors through Aspire Mentoring Academy.
I am inspired by the stories BGCA shares with us, like this one:
Claude is by all accounts a comical kid. He has a great sense of humor and an innate ability to make others smile. Last year, Claude’s light hearted nature, coupled with struggles at school and home, got him into some trouble – he started to become disrespectful to staff and school administrators and was suspended from school.
As this Boys & Girls Club started their second year of the BE GREAT: Graduate program, Claude was in need of a new mentor. One of the adult volunteers took a particular interest in Claude because he gleaned that he was a great kid who needed help to get back on the right path. Claude took an instant liking to his new mentor; his face visibly lighting up every time he came to the club to visit.
By the start of the New Year, Claude's attitudes and behaviors had completely changed. He attended programs eagerly and became involved in all aspects of the Club. Claude became known once again for his sense of humor and ability to make others laugh and smile, but also as one of the stand out members of the club, always lending a helping hand and eager to participate.
Claude’s story shows the valuable role a caring adult can play in the life of a student struggling to succeed. According to a new report commissioned by MENTOR, a substantial mentoring gap exists in America, especially for at-risk youth. One in three young people reported they never had a mentor while growing up. With Aspire Mentoring Academy, we hope to help fill this gap by providing opportunities for our employees to share career advice, skills and knowledge with teens that need it most.
I know that the Boys and Girls Clubs of America will keep more kids on track to graduate, and working with them will help keep me on track with my resolution. I look forward to sharing more success stories about this initiative later this year – so stay tuned!