AT&T is committed to bridging the digital divide through efforts that promote broadband affordability, availability and adoption. We are also investing our resources and knowledge to advance the digital skills needed to thrive in the classrooms and workplaces of today and tomorrow.
TOPIC: Internship Opportunities
2023 GOAL: Host 200 Year Up interns annually.
PROGRESS: Hosted 162 Year Up Interns and created career opportunities
Since 2019, we’ve hosted 162 Year Up program participants and hired 50 former Year Up interns and alums across the country. As we move further into a post-pandemic workplace, we look forward to accelerating efforts and bringing more Year Up interns to AT&T locations.
TOPIC: Digital Divide
2024 GOAL: Invest $2 billion by 2024 to help bridge the digital divide.
PROGRESS: Launched AT&T Connected LearningSM and expanded low-cost broadband offerings
As part of our $2 billion digital divide commitment, we introduced AT&T Connected Learning, a multi-year initiative investing in digital inclusion, literacy and education to help connect today’s learners with skills, resources and opportunities for success – in and out of the classroom. By the end of 2022, we will launch more than 20 AT&T Connected Learning Centers in under-resourced neighborhoods facing barriers to connectivity.
AT&T is also participating in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides a benefit on broadband service for eligible households. Through a new Access from AT&T rate plan, households taking advantage of the ACP benefit (up to $30 per month, or up to $75 per month for those on qualified tribal lands) can receive internet service at no monthly charge.
TOPIC: Connected Learning
2025 GOAL: Provide 1 million underserved with digital resources though AT&T Connected Learning.
PROGRESS: Engaged more than 72,000 individuals
We’re tracking progress through AT&T Connected Learning. Through 2021, we engaged more than 72,000 individuals through digital inclusion initiatives such as partnerships to provide refurbished devices to low-income students and families, resources to support digital learning and literacy, and investments in programs that boost employment opportunities.
Requirements to work and learn remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic shed greater light on the digital divide that has long left millions of students and families without essential broadband connectivity. Reliable, affordable internet connectivity is an essential tool for access to education, healthcare and employment – whether households use the internet for school assignments, to earn a degree online, to apply for jobs, to research health information or simply to stay in touch with family and friends.
In 2021, we announced an expanded commitment to invest $2 billion over the next 3 years to help address the digital divide. This effort will combine AT&T’s low-cost broadband service offerings with ongoing community investment, building on approximately $1 billion in contributions over the last 3 years to help the nation’s most vulnerable communities.
We’re investing in next-generation learning platforms and programs to better facilitate education and job training with the goal of creating a skilled, diverse workforce that can power our company – and our country – for the future. Our efforts also include initiatives that promote success in school and provide job skills development to support a well-educated and future-ready workforce.
With oversight by the full AT&T Board of Directors, our strategy for addressing the digital divide involves collaboration across the entirety of our company – engaging business units such as Corporate Social Responsibility, Public Policy, External and Legislative Affairs, Network Technology and Operations, Finance, and Marketing.
For additional details on our efforts, visit our Bridging the Digital Divide website.
Closing the Homework Gap
Millions of students can’t participate in digital learning because they don’t have an internet connection or device. According to our recent Morning Consult survey, the homework gap is a major concern for 76% of parents and 81% of teachers more than a year after the start of the pandemic. The same study also found that 73% of parents and 70% of teachers anticipate that the traditional classroom environment will rely more heavily on technology in the future – underscoring the importance of finding new and sustained ways to narrow the homework gap.
We’ve set a goal to provide 1 million underserved with digital resources through AT&T Connected LearningSM by 2025.
AT&T Connected Learning
In 2021, as part of our $2 billion commitment to narrow the digital divide and the homework gap, we introduced AT&T Connected Learning, a multi-year initiative investing in digital inclusion, literacy, learning and employment solutions to help connect today’s learners with skills, resources and opportunities for success in school and in life.
Together with our employees and local organizations, we’re opening 20 AT&T Connected Learning Centers by the end of 2022 that will provide high-speed AT&T Fiber internet, Wi-Fi and technology resources in underserved neighborhoods. Each center will be housed within local community organizations and will provide students and families with free access to high-speed internet and computing devices, as well as opportunities for tutoring and mentorship through our employee-driven AT&T Believes volunteerism initiative. Educational content from The Achievery, the Public Library Association and other learning resources will also be available to help students and families participate in virtual learning and gain digital literacy skills. We opened the first 3 centers in Dallas in 2021, and we have additional locations planned in cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Raleigh, San Francisco and Tupelo, Mississippi.
We’re also working with non-profit device refurbishment partners such as Digitunity, PCS for People and Human IT to provide technology directly to learners who need it most. This includes providing more than 27,000 tablets or laptops with an operating system plus a year of warranty and support to low-income students and families across the U.S. Additionally, we’re working with Local Initiatives Support Corporation to provide computer resource rooms with digital skills coaching to underserved parents and families.
Helping students also means helping parents and families. Together with the Public Library Association, we’re helping newly connected parents and caregivers build the skills and confidence they need to use technology and support their child’s online learning. In 2021, we launched a collection of digital literacy courses on topics such as using computers and mobile devices, navigating the internet and commonly used apps, and teleconferencing basics. These free self-paced courses are available virtually at digitalliteracy.att.com. Additionally, AT&T employee volunteers are collaborating with community organizations to offer in-person digital literacy workshops.
Through AT&T ScreenReady®, we’re also helping parents and families make safe and positive connections on all screens. In 2021, we added new tips, tools and information to help parents and caregivers set parental controls on their connected devices, navigate digital parenting issues and create the right online and entertainment experience for their families.
Connectivity alone is not enough to keep students engaged in learning, especially when learning away from school. High-quality educational tools that supplement and enrich classroom lessons can help students stay engaged and excited about learning.
Building on our long-standing investments and commitment to education, we continue to support organizations and programs that help close the homework gap and keep young people connected to high-quality education, in and out of the classrooms. Our 2021 contributions supported leading education non-profit organizations such as Khan Academy, Communities In Schools, and ed-tech startups with innovative solutions addressing the homework gap and other organizations reaching the most vulnerable students.
Supporting Our Future Workforce
POWERING CAREERS: TECHNOLOGY, MEDIA AND CONTENT PRODUCTION
Technological advancements are improving our lives and changing the way we work. This evolution not only requires a focus on “hard” skills such as coding and data analytics but also emphasizes the importance of the “soft” skills that technology cannot replace, including leadership, collaboration and effective decision-making. For that reason, AT&T is investing in programs that address the multidimensional nature of today’s skills gaps to prepare people for career success. In 2021, we supported organizations such as Per Scholas, Roadtrip Nation, All Star Code, Techbridge Girls and Code.org. We also supported programs that empower girls and young women in STEM, including Girls Who Code, Black Girls CODE, Girls Inc. and Girl Scouts.
We’re also collaborating with Year Up, an organization which prepares young people for careers while earning college credits through a yearlong program. In 2021, we hosted 34 Year Up interns. Although the internships were held mostly online due to work-from-home policies, our interns gained access to various business functions during their six-month internship. For example, interns work alongside financial analysts and software engineers. We provided access to our course offerings and held a speaker series and mentor engagements. Additionally, in alignment with our commitment to narrowing the digital divide, we provided laptops and Wi-Fi devices with a data plan. After they completed their internship in January 2022, we offered 17 interns a career opportunity with AT&T or an authorized retailer. By 2023, our goal is to host 200 Year Up interns and alums annually.
Through our participation in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Connect America Fund program, AT&T has been working to help meet the connectivity needs of customers in predominantly rural areas. Through the end of 2021, we have used funds from this program to help deploy, offer and maintain internet and voice services to over 1.1 million homes and small-business locations in FCC-identified areas of need. Additionally, we continue to deploy fiber across our wired footprint and are on track to reach 2.5 million incremental homes by the end of 2021 and 30 million homes by the end of 2025.
AT&T is pursuing similar partnerships with states and localities to extend broadband service at speeds exceeding 100 Mbps throughout rural America. For example, in 2021, we announced a $39 million project with Vanderburgh County, Indiana, to build out high-speed fiber broadband to more than 20,000 households and businesses – supporting a region where about a third of the county population does not currently have access to fixed broadband solutions.
Another way we’re working to improve connectivity in rural communities is through AT&T Wireless Internet service, which provides voice and internet service for homes or offices over our wireless network. In addition to availability in metropolitan areas, this service can be an option for those living in rural areas with limited terrestrial broadband connectivity.
Low-Cost Broadband Programs
We continue to help make low-cost internet service available for qualifying low-income households with our Access from AT&T program. Introduced in 2016, Access from AT&T® is available to households within our 21-state wireline footprint that have at least 1 resident who participates in the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In California, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients may also qualify.
To educate potential participants about Access from AT&T, we’ve connected with national, state and local groups that work with low-income individuals and families. These organizations include social services groups and organizations representing veterans, seniors, students, non-English speakers and others. For the latest information, visit att.com/access.
AT&T is committed to working with policymakers and stakeholders to ensure people across the country have access to high-speed internet. AT&T recommends that policymakers first identify where broadband is available with geographic precision. Congress adopted and funded the Broadband DATA Act specifically for this purpose, and the FCC is working to implement the new law to create a more accurate national broadband map by the end of 2022. This is a critical step to enable policy makers to targeting funding from programs like the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program.
Second, AT&T recommends that policymakers give due consideration to wireless solutions. As wireless technologies continue to offer greater performance, simpler-to-deploy wireless broadband solutions are increasingly preferred to help close affordability and availability gaps.
We believe it takes a collaborative approach between the public and private sectors, as well as smart public policy, to continue bridging the digital divide. For example, Congress has directed substantial federal resources to support internet service deployment. These federal resources combined with market efforts make it clear that universal internet access cannot be achieved by governments alone.
Policies developed at all levels of government need to work with the market and foster continued private-sector investment and innovation by eliminating barriers to connectivity. The private sector has the expertise and a proven track record of meeting consumer demand at the speeds – and with the service options and technologies – consumers want.
AT&T recommends that policymakers determine how to fund the ACP after the initial $14.2 billion appropriation is exhausted so it can continue addressing broadband service affordability for low-income households. AT&T supports direct congressional appropriations to fund not only the ACP, but also all programs designed to address 21st century universal broadband objectives like those funded by the existing Universal Service Fund (USF). Appropriations are the simplest, broadest, most equitable and most sustainable funding source to address these important needs. If appropriations are infeasible or insufficient, AT&T recommends expanding the USF contribution base to assess other services and industries that benefit from broadband and broadband-enabled technologies or that compete with assessable telecommunications services.
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