AT&T Committing $10 Million to Economic Opportunity in Black and Underserved Communities

Initiative includes workforce readiness, employee led local efforts, and diversifying technology and entrepreneurship through HBCUs

AT&T today is committing an additional $10 million this year to create economic opportunities and foster upward mobility for Black and underserved communities who face long-standing social inequities and higher unemployment, all of which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re refocusing our efforts to create more opportunities and paths to success for Black and underserved communities, building on our longstanding work to create economic prosperity for all in this country,” said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Inc.

Unemployment for Black Americans reached 16.8% in May, the highest it’s been in more than a decade. The pandemic’s outsized impact on Black job candidates, coupled with current social unrest, highlights the need to address current barriers to economic success and upward mobility in Black and underserved communities.

Key focus areas in 2020 include:

Workforce Readiness and Targeted Local Initiatives

In the past five years, AT&T* has contributed $215 million to increase education, skills building and career readiness opportunities in Black and underserved communities.

To build on this work, we’re contributing $4.5 million to national work readiness programs focused on under- and unemployed youth (16-24). Our work will include:

  • Collaborating with YouthBuild USA to inspire innovative ways to place young people, including justice-involved youth, into full-time employment.
  • Teaming with Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) to equip young people facing economic, environmental and academic challenges with emotional and educational support needed for high school and career success. We will also help scale JAG’s online learning management tool so staff across the country can access digital trainings, best practices and resources.
  • Expanding collaboration with Year Up, which provides young people career readiness through year-long corporate internships/college classes. We’ve committed to host 200 Year Up interns at AT&T annually by 2022.

“COVID-19 has had a disproportionately negative impact on Black and underserved communities,” said Gerald Chertavian, CEO and founder of Year Up. “This has been compounded by social unrest, leaving many young people feeling unsupported and lacking access to meaningful career opportunities. Working with AT&T, we’ll scale our services and connect more talented young people with the resources they need to succeed.”

Meanwhile, through our employee-led AT&T BelievesSM program, local teams with diverse backgrounds will evaluate the most urgent needs in markets across the U.S. and decide where their volunteer time and $5.5 million of AT&T philanthropic support is best used to make pathways to economic empowerment and social equality.

In Chicago, for example, we will expand our support for existing education and skills building programs in neighborhoods impacted by high unemployment and violence. In Dallas, where 70% of the homeless population is Black, we will continue our support of organizations focused on reducing the number people being displaced from their homes.  And in Birmingham, we will continue working on education disparities for at risk youth.

Last year, our employees volunteered 1.4 million hours and gave nearly $30 million to over 30,000 nonprofit organizations across the country and around the globe.

“We learned early on we can make big impact by listening to our employees on the ground about where and how best to help in a given market,” said Charlene Lake, SVP, Corporate Social Responsibility and Chief Sustainability Officer, AT&T. “By coupling these efforts with national workforce readiness programs, we’re able to amplify the number of opportunities communities have to make economic gains and lasting change.”

Learn more about local AT&T Believes projects here.

Supporting Black Technology Developers and Entrepreneurs

Increasing diverse viewpoints is critical to eliminating racial bias found in some of today’s technologies. Recent research found widespread evidence of racial bias in nearly 200 facial recognition algorithms, for example.

To begin changing this scenario, we’re collaborating with Nex Cubed to cultivate Black technology development and entrepreneurship at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Together, we will provide mentoring and ideation sessions this fall through the inaugural HBCU Founder's Program, encouraging students to design and surface business and technology concepts in digital health, financial, housing and education sectors.

“These sectors are in desperate need of systemic reform that technology can help enable,” said Marlon Evans, Nex Cubed CEO. “We’re committed to locking arms with entrepreneurs and organizations such as AT&T that share our belief that having a diversity of ideas and perspectives is both the right thing to do and good for business.”

Collaborator Spotlights

Learn more about the HBCU Founders Program here.

Learn more about our work with Year Up.

Learn more about our work with Per Scholas

Learn more about our work with YouthBuild

Learn more about our work with Jobs for America's Gratuates

*$202 million of this funding was provided by AT&T, and $13 million was provided through the AT&T Foundation.