AT&T invests $10 million to raise High school graduation rates

It takes caring professionals and a relentless focus on results to make sure students stay in school and succeed. That’s why next month, AT&T* will launch the 2014 AT&T Aspire High School Success Initiative Request for Proposal to keep kids in the classroom.

Currently, about one in five students do not graduate with their peers. And many of those who do are not fully prepared for success in college and careers. But there is hope. As of this year, the United States is for the first time on track to meet the 90 percent national graduation goal by 2020 set by the Grad Nation Campaign. More needs to be done, particularly for minority and low-income students whose graduation rates are lagging.

The RFP is part of AT&T Aspire, one of the nation’s largest corporate initiatives committed to helping more students graduate from high school ready for college and careers. More than 1 million students in all 50 states have been impacted since Aspire launched in 2008. AT&T has committed $350 million to Aspire through 2016.

“We’re looking for programs that can prove they are solving problems and changing lives,” said Beth Shiroishi, vice president, sustainability and philanthropy, AT&T. “And by supporting organizations that use evidence to demonstrate success, we can know what programs work best in certain situations, how they work, and how they can be scaled to benefit other students.”

The RFP follows a previous request for proposal in 2012 that committed nearly $10 million to 47 schools and nonprofits to increase graduation and attendance rates and reduce behavioral and disciplinary problems.

Through support from the 2012 RFP, the Sports & Arts in School Foundation is serving an additional 100 high school freshmen in New York City with in-school tutors.

“It makes a difference,” says Sheldon Minnus, program director. “Many students commute for 2 or 2 ½ hours. Being able to offer tutoring with professionals during school hours gives us flexibility we didn’t have before.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Green Bay (WI) is using its funding to provide graduation coaches to an additional 40 students though the BE GREAT: Graduate program, a proven model.The graduation coaches check for early warning signs for dropping out and connect with their students to teach problem-solving and life skills that help get them on track to graduate.

The success of BE GREAT is driven home by Teresa LeClercq, a career development specialist participating in the program. She is mentoring a 15- year-old whose family has gone through hard times, including homelessness. The 10th grader came into the program during the summer as a C and F student.

“Now she’s making some As and Bs and her GPA is improving,” commented LeClercq.

“But it’s not always about drilling down in algebra. Sometimes it’s about navigating a difficult home situation.” In fact, the student recently told LeClercq, “I’m rocking this class… and I’m going to college. I have two places in mind.”

Through the 2014 RFP, AT&T will help national, regional, and local organizations expand or strengthen programs that serve students at risk of dropping out of high school or who have dropped out. Contributions will range up to $1 million for programs operating in multiple communities and up to $300,000 for single-community programs.

Applicants will be evaluated through a competitive process on the basis of their track records using evidence-based approaches, accomplishments in serving students at risk of dropping out of high school and use of data to demonstrate their effectiveness. Details are available at The RFP’s Pre-Qualification Survey will launch on January 2 and remain open until January 17. An independent third party will review and evaluate all organizations that complete the survey, and those proceeding to the next stage will be invited to submit a full proposal.

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