The power of the high school diploma is indisputable: employment opportunities, wages, social acceptance and so on.
While there are plenty of paths to help at-risk high school students graduate, AT&T is targeting those organizations boasting evidence-based programs of success with its Aspire Education initiative. Recently, AT&T announced its third Aspire RFP, which earmarks $12.5 million towards 30 groups serving 28,000 high school students across the country.
The funding is going to the best of the best organizations in the country that are dedicated to helping students graduate high school, get ready for college and careers, Executive Director of Philanthropy at AT&T and President of the AT&T Foundation Nicole Anderson told VOXXI. Within that, all of them serve Hispanic students.
The criteria for Aspire is each winning program delivered quantitative impact and featured proven methods of helping students succeed in academics and careers. This ranges from providing integrated services and mentoring to focusing on college or career preparation.
One group slated to receive $1 million is ASPIRA. The funding is earmarked towards the support expansion of its after-school youth development program, which serves high school students who are at risk of dropping out, with a goal of increasing on-time grade promotion and graduation rates.
For over 50 years, our core and model drop-out prevention initiative has been serving thousands of mostly Latino youth with enormous success, ASPIRA President and CEO Ronald Blackburn Moreno told Voxxi. We are very excited that AT&T has recognized the value of our model program and has awarded us a very generous contribution of almost $1 million.
ASPIRA provides academic support and guidance including behavioral management, community involvement and college/career exploration to students in Florida, New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico.
Another similar-minded program that is receiving $300,000 in Aspire funding is Proyecto Pastoral. The Promesa Boyle Heights initiative supports retention, promotion, graduation and college success for high-risk youth in East Los Angeles.
We established a model and a shared vision in our community in East Los Angeles, where every single child would be supported with our community supports network from cradle to college to career, Promesa Boyle Heights Project Director Deycy Hernandez told VOXXI.
She added previous financial support from Aspire helped launch the program in 2012. Since then, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. The graduation rate jumped from 31 percent to 70 percent for participants, which began with 30 students and now includes 725 teens.
The first grant allowed us to target the senior and junior classes, Hernandez said. With the latest support we are targeting every single student in grades 9 to 12. With the new support, we will be able to intensify our level of intensity and include every single child.
In 2008 AT&T created Aspire in response to the Americas Promise Alliances 2020 goal of increasing the high school graduation rate to 90 percent.
Education is obviously the most important thing we can focus on as a corporation to make sure we have a talented workforce coming though, Anderson said. This continues to be a primary [goal], to really create exponential change and help our kids graduate from high school.
The focus is going to grow to find ways we can deliver greater social impact through our giving and investing in our kids.
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