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Supporting Education: AT&T Aspire

Materiality Assessment Topic: Education; Giving & philanthropy | Global Reporting Initiative G4 Indicators: EC7, SO1

Issue Summary

Currently, one out of five students — and about 28 percent of African American and 24 percent of Hispanic students — fail to graduate with their class. Students between 16-24 who are neither in school nor working are costing taxpayers $93 billion annually.1

Our Position

At AT&T, we are using the power of our network to build a better tomorrow. Our signature philanthropic initiative AT&T Aspire drives innovation in education – through technology, social innovation and relationships — to ensure all students have the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond.

By investing in new tools and solutions that leverage our unique technologies and capabilities, AT&T enables personalized and mobilized learning for students of all ages and backgrounds. We provide and support opportunities to foster skills that will meet the needs of the future workforce. We connect AT&T employees with students to mentor and help them discover their passions and potential. Education has been our priority for more than a century; through AT&T Aspire, we have passed the $300 million mark on our plan to invest $350 million in education from 2008–2017.  We aspire to remove barriers to academic success and career growth, and help all students — regardless of age, gender or income — make their biggest dreams a reality.


Data Highlights

   
Targets to our 2020/2025 Goals
In Progress
2016 Target: Engage students at risk of dropping out of high school with 1 million hours of mentoring with AT&T employees by the end of 2016.
  • PROGRESS: Between September 2012 and year-end 2015, students received more than 1,000,000 hours of mentoring by AT&T employees through Aspire Mentoring Academy, surpassing our 2016 goal.
2017 Target: Plan to invest an additional $250 million by 2017 to drive innovation in education, support effective local programs and create collective impact.
  • PROGRESS: We have invested approximately $217 million since March 2012. Program highlights include:
    • Launching the Aspire Accelerator with the mission of supporting ed-tech innovations that have the potential to help every student achieve a bright, successful future — exponentially and at scale. The first class of five organizations has already impacted more than 2 million students, 200,000 teachers and 4,500 schools throughout the United States.
    • Working with Udacity to launch Nanodegree programs, new educational online pathways to industry-relevant skills, to prepare more people with the skills needed for high-demand tech jobs requiring technological expertise. Nanodegree courses are online, self-paced and taught by leaders in tech, with personalized coaches.
    • Supporting a number of organizations that help underrepresented students develop computer science and coding skills, including Girls Who Code, Black Girls CODE and Code.org.
    • Contributing $4.5 million to Communities In Schools, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to keeping kids in school and helping them succeed in life. The investment supports advancement in data collection, technology, research and evaluation, as well as continued site coordinator support and mentoring by AT&T employees.
In Progress
2017 Target: Offer $100 million of free mobile broadband access through 2017 in collaboration with the White House ConnectED initiative.4
  • PROGRESS: In 2014, AT&T committed — as part of the White House’s ConnectED initiative — to provide $100 million of free mobile broadband connectivity for mobile learning to students and teachers in Title I schools across the country over the next few years starting in 2016. AT&T remains committed to providing connections to devices supplied or donated by manufacturers. In 2015, AT&T forged a partnership with Apple, another ConnectED participant company, and is on track with plans to provide more than 30,000 students and teachers with mobile broadband and optional web filtering by the end of the 2016/2017 school year.
2020 Target: Encourage technology applications to solve vexing education challenges through the Aspire Accelerator for non-profits and for-profits.
  • PROGRESS: In 2015, AT&T selected five organizations – from 345 applicants – to support with a customized program that included financial investment, access to expert services and mentorship. The inaugural class of organizations thrived in the Aspire Accelerator. Altogether, the Aspire Accelerator participants impacted more than 2 million students, 200,000 teachers and 4,500 schools throughout the United States during their Accelerator experience.
2025 Target: Promote STEM training by co-developing and attracting 10,000 students to the Georgia Tech and Udacity online master’s degree in computer science program by 2017 and 23,000 students to Udacity-AT&T nanodegrees by 2015.
  • PROGRESS:
  • More than 11,000 learners worldwide, including more than 1,000 employees, are enrolled in various Nanodegree credentials; to date about 200 employees have earned a credential.
  • As of Fall 2015, nearly 3,000 students have enrolled in the Georgia Tech online computer science program and more than 300 AT&T employees have been admitted. The program’s first class graduated in Dec. 2015 and three of the graduates were AT&T employees.
   
   

Our Action

AT&T is driving innovation in education to promote student success in school and beyond through our signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire. We are leveraging technology, relationships and social innovation to help all students make their biggest dreams a reality.

We aspire to:

  • Remove barriers to academic success and career growth, and help all students — regardless of age, gender or income — make their biggest dreams a reality.
  • Spark innovation and empower students, educators and caregivers to utilize new technologies for personal, career and community growth.
  • Build a viable, creative and adaptive workforce that is prepared to face the changing needs of employers and customers.
  • Support organizations and solutions that offer a socially innovative approach to improving teaching, learning and workforce development.
  • Create innovative products and services that can impact teaching and learning.

In 2015, Aspire focused on:

Mobilizing Learning

Technology is fundamentally altering education by removing barriers so that all — regardless of age, gender, income or zip code — can have the opportunity to make their dreams a reality. We are collaborating with schools like the Momentous Institute to bring technology into the classroom, investing in initiatives such as ConnectED to bring Internet connectivity and educational resources to more students across America, and supporting and mentoring innovative ed-tech startups through the AT&T Aspire Accelerator:

  • We are working with the Momentous Institute in Dallas to develop new educational and social-emotional applications and curriculum. By enhancing connectivity and putting tablets in the hands of every student and teacher, we are bringing new opportunities to students, teachers and administrators.
  • In 2014, AT&T committed — as part of the White House’s ConnectED initiative — to provide $100 million of free mobile broadband connectivity for mobile learning to students and teachers in Title I schools across the country over the next few years starting in 2016. AT&T remains committed to providing connections to devices supplied or donated by manufacturers. In 2015, AT&T forged a partnership with Apple, another ConnectED participant company, and is on track with plans to provide more than 30,000 students and teachers with mobile broadband and optional web filtering by the end of the 2016/2017 school year.
  • We’ve also graduated our first class of organizations from the Aspire Accelerator. Five organizations were chosen from 345 applicants who all share our goal of enhancing education by supporting and mentoring the most promising and innovative startups in ed-tech. The Aspire Accelerator’s mission is to support innovations that have the potential to help every student achieve a bright, successful future — exponentially and at scale. The first class has already impacted more than 2 million students, 200,000 teachers and 4,500 schools throughout the United States.

Powering Career Skills

The tech industry needs a capable and diverse pipeline of employees to fuel 21st century jobs, but the need is currently outpacing supply. To power the global economy, we need to bridge the skills gap and build a diverse talent pipeline for the jobs of today and the future:

  • To prepare more people with the skills needed for high-demand tech jobs requiring technological expertise, we are teaming up with education technology leader Udacity to launch Nanodegrees programs — new educational online pathways to industry-relevant skills. Nanodegree courses are online, self-paced and taught by leaders in tech, with personalized coaches. The Nanodegree programs will be fully recognized for entry-level jobs at AT&T, and up to 100 graduates will be placed in paid internships at AT&T. Together with Udacity, we are also providing 1,200 scholarships to students through several leading non-profit organizations.
  • AT&T is collaborating with Georgia Tech and Udacity to offer an online Master of Science degree in computer science. The degree can be earned completely through the massive open online course (MOOC) format, and is supported by a multi-million dollar AT&T contribution to fund the program. As of fall 2015, nearly 3,000 students have enrolled in the degree program and more than 300 AT&T employees have been admitted. The program’s first class graduated in Dec. 2015 and three of the graduates were AT&T employees.
  • AT&T is supporting a number of organizations that help underrepresented students develop computer science and coding skills. In 2015, this included:
    • $2 million contribution to Girls Who Code to support the expansion of the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program and Clubs Program, and the launch of the Girls Who Code Alumni Network;
    • $156,000 contribution to Black Girls CODE to launch new chapters in Dallas and Miami, including the establishment of flagship chapter offices, operations and programming serving 1,000 students;
    • and a $150,000 contribution to Code.org to develop a computer science curriculum, evaluate the impact of its programming and enhance activities that will help encourage a more diverse student body in the field of computer science.
  • Roadtrip Nation (RTN), an organization that creates innovative career exploration resources to help students explore pathways aligned with their interests, received $2.2 million from AT&T this year. The funding will help RTN reach more than 80,000 students nationwide throughout the 2015-2017 school years with its live events, exclusive high school curriculum and interactive online tools.
  • In 2015, AT&T contributed $250,000 to the General Assembly Opportunity Fund, a fellowship program aimed at providing hands-on education and career opportunities in technology to underrepresented groups across the globe. The Opportunity Fund specifically supports women, people of color, military veterans and low-income individuals. This collaboration will provide 20 fellowships to General Assembly's 12-week Web Development and User Experience Design Immersive programs and will provide tuition for 50 students to participate in General Assembly's 12-week online Web Design course.
  • AT&T contributed $400,000 to the College for All Texans Foundation to expand the state’s Texas Affordable Baccalaureate (TAB) program, which aims to decrease both the cost and time required to earn a degree by leveraging competency-based education, online and hybrid instruction models and alternative tuition structures. TAB is part of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s efforts to make higher education more accessible, affordable, and responsive to student and industry needs.
  • AT&T contributed $250,000 to Teach For America to increase the infrastructure of its new computer science initiative, CS@TFA, in five regions. The funding supports the recruitment of additional computer science (CS) teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Kansas City, New York, South Carolina and Washington, D.C

Making Connections

When mentors connect to young people, both are changed for the better. More than one in three students at risk of not graduating from high school grow up without an adult mentor in their life.5 AT&T Aspire seeks to improve that statistic by providing young people across the country with mentoring by AT&T employees. Through Aspire Mentoring Academy, we have set a goal to provide 1 million hours of student mentoring by AT&T employees by the end of 2016. As of year-end 2015, we have surpassed that goal, mentoring over 1,000,000 hours with more than 160,000 students.

In early 2015, we announced that we’re teaming up with MENTOR and the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS) to deploy a team called the Aspire Mentoring Corps which builds upon our commitment to My Brother’s Keeper. The AmeriCorps VISTA members will be strategically placed to enhance local mentoring efforts for AT&T and encourage others in the private sector to become engaged. We are excited about getting to work with our collaborators in Topeka, Boston, Detroit, New York, Chicago and Seattle. Over the course of their year of service, the AmeriCorps VISTAs will reach more than 3,000 young people by working with programs across the country.

Aspire Mentoring Academy events take place at AT&T work locations, online and in the community. We collaborate with non-profit education groups to connect students to mentors, provide opportunities to learn life skills about diverse career paths and ultimately understand how what mentees are learning today connects to their success tomorrow. Some of our non-profit collaborators include:

Supporting What Works

AT&T Aspire has been a force for change in corporate philanthropy, and we’re proud that our employees have impacted more than 170,000 underserved students through 1 million hours of mentoring.

The national graduation rate has now hit an all-time high of 82.3 percent, up more than ten percentage points over the last dozen years. In spite of this progress, significant challenges remain. Serious graduation gaps persist between students of different races, ethnicities, income-levels and special needs.1 AT&T Aspire is proud to be a lead supporter of the Grad Nation Campaign and to work with many successful education organizations across the country, meeting the unique needs of students in their communities.

  • In 2014, AT&T contributed nearly $12.5 million to 30 organizations that serve 28,000 high school students across the country to strengthen and expand their programs. These evidence-based programs help students graduate from high school prepared for college and a career. Through a competitive process, these school districts and non-profits were selected from more than 1,100 applicants nationwide. Each of the winning programs delivered a quantitative impact and featured proven methods of helping students succeed in academics and careers, such as providing integrated services, mentoring or focusing on college or career preparation.
  • In 2012, AT&T Aspire committed $10 million to 47 schools and non-profits to increase graduation and attendance rates and reduce behavioral and disciplinary problems. Preliminary results from a third party evaluation of the 2012 recipients show that 9th, 10th and 11th grade students who participated in these programs were significantly more likely to end up on-track to graduate than a similarly situated peer group.
  • AT&T is the premier presenter of 100 Grad Nation community summits coordinated by America’s Promise Alliance, which launched in fall 2013 and will take place through 2016.
  • In 2015, contributed $4.5 million to Communities In Schools, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to keeping kids in school and helping them succeed in life. The multi-year investment supports advancement in data collection, technology, research and evaluation, as well as continued site coordinator support and mentoring by AT&T employees.
  • In 2015, AT&T contributed $2.55 million to Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) to enable the national non-profit to add new schools and/or expand existing programs through their 32 JAG State Affiliates with proven records of success of keeping kids in school. In addition to the expansion of JAG programs, the funding supports local mentoring events between JAG students and AT&T employees through Aspire Mentoring Academy.

To learn more about our AT&T Aspire initiative, visit www.att.com/aspire.

Philanthropy management at AT&T

Philanthropic giving at AT&T includes both corporate contributions as approved by the AT&T Contributions Council and grants as approved by the AT&T Foundation. Members of the AT&T Contribution Council are appointed by the Chairman and CEO. Oversight of policy for philanthropic giving by AT&T is provided by the AT&T Public Policy and Corporate Reputation Committee. For more information on governance of our philanthropy, please visit our philanthropy policy.

1Civic Enterprises, Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, America’s Promise Alliance, Building a Grad Nation Report Update 2014

2Graduation rate as measured by GradNation, a campaign of America’s Promise Alliance: http://gradnation.org/channels/grad-rate-data

3Degree/credential rate as measured by MoveED, a campaign of the Lumina Foundation: http://moveed.org/whatisgoal2025/

4ConnectED efforts are contingent on FCC e-rate compliance requirements, and federal, state and municipal procurement frameworks that will not prohibit or extend these types of initiatives. Eligible school locations will be subject to network congestion, availability and performance criteria.

5http://www.mentoring.org/mentoringeffect

Updated on: Aug 1, 2016

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