Presence. Sometimes, it is all we need. An ear to listen and a voice to reassure us and offer a few words of advice. For students struggling in school, the absence of an involved adult often exacerbates the problem. That’s why mentoring programs can be so powerful. 

More than 1.5 million hours of mentoring by AT&T employees were provided to more than 260,000 students through AT&T Aspire since 2012.

Through AT&T’s Aspire mentoring program, we’ve connected more than 260,000 students with employees face-to-face. This past year, however, we took our program to a new level — collaborating with online mentoring groups iCouldBe, iMentor, Nepris and We Teach Science to connect even more students to this opportunity.

Fidel is one young man who experienced the power of a virtual connection in his life.

A high school senior from Westminster, Calif., Fidel was struggling in school and had difficulties managing time between academics, sports and a job. So he entered the AT&T supported iCouldBe program, which brings mentors and students together online. He connected virtually with Angela Hawks‑Johnson, an AT&T network specialist in Houston. Despite being more than 1,500 miles apart, they formed a strong bond.

“She is like a member of my family,” says Fidel. Angela became Fidel’s go-to person. They talked about school and time organization, but their real connection came through sharing about everyday life. When Fidel logged online, he knew someone was there, wanting to hear about how he was doing and help.

Now in his senior year, Fidel is making great strides in school, running for student office and making progress toward his dream of becoming a neurologist or audiologist. Angela is just one of our many employees who have mentored students online and in person through AT&T Aspire.

All young people deserve to have a role model in their lives to help them succeed. Our network connects mentors like Angela with students like Fidel and can bring this opportunity to more students — helping to bridge the gap between dreams and reality.

This sustainability perspective originally appeared in the 2016 edition of the AT&T Annual Sustainability Update. Read more about our efforts here.

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