AT&T Launches $250 Million Program to Boost Graduation Rates With Focus on Innovation, Technology - Vermont Organizations Urged to Compete for Program Funding

Mar 20, 2012, 09:30 ET from AT&T Inc.

BURLINGTON, Vt., March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- AT&T* today announced the launch of a new $250 million, 5-year financial commitment aimed at helping more students graduate from high school with the skills they need to succeed in college and careers.

The funding for AT&T Aspire – already among the most significant U.S. corporate educational initiatives, with more than $100 million invested since 2008 – will be available for organizations and institutions with a proven track record of success that are looking to use technology to connect with students in new and effective ways.

Between now and April 27, 2012, AT&T is encouraging Vermont organizations to apply for funding through the Local High School Impact Initiative Requests for Proposals (RFPs).

"AT&T Aspire works toward an America where every student graduates high school equipped with the knowledge and skills to strengthen the nation's workforce," AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said while announcing the extended commitment during a keynote address at the second annual Building a Grad Nation Summit.

The Washington, D.C., event convened by America's Promise Alliance (, Civic Enterprises (, The Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University (, and the Alliance for Excellent Education ( brings together nearly 1,200 U.S. leaders to discuss progress and challenges in ending the high school dropout crisis.

"This is a significant investment in preparing the next generation of Americans to succeed in the increasingly competitive global economy," said Patricia Jacobs, president of AT&T New England.  "We hope organizations across Vermont with a passion for dealing with this problem and a proven track record of success in increasing graduation rates will apply for funding."    

The new and expanded AT&T commitment builds on the work AT&T Aspire has completed in the last four years. AT&T has invested more than $100 million in Aspire since 2008, and has impacted more than one million U.S. high school students, helping them prepare for success in the workplace and college. 

AT&T is looking to fund local programs that have strong, evidence-based practices grounded in the What Works Clearinghouse Dropout Prevention: A Practice Guide and data-driven outcomes demonstrated to improve high school graduation rates.

Vermont organizations interested in getting additional information or applying will find complete details on the RFP process at by clicking on the "Aspire Local Impact RFP" option.  Applications will be accepted between now at April 27.

Through the AT&T Foundation, the company has also provided financial support to several organizations in Vermont that have an education focus, including Governors Institutes of Vermont, Snelling Center at the University of Vermont, Lyndon State College, and Landmark College.

Drop-out rates are a serious issue in the United States. According to a report issued today by Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center, America's Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education, one in four students in the U.S. – more than 1 million each year – drops out. (AT&T is the lead sponsor of this report.)

Education experts believe that the lack of a high school degree significantly worsens job prospects, particularly in the challenging science, technology and math sectors. On average, a high school dropout earns 25 percent less during the course of his or her lifetime compared with a high school graduate and 57 percent less than a college graduate with a bachelor's degree.(1)

Although the problem is serious, there are signs of progress according to the report issued today:

  • The high school graduation rate increased by 3.5 percentage points nationally from 2001 to 2009.
  • In 2001, the rate was 72.0 percent; by 2009, it had risen to 75.5 percent. From 2002 to 2009, six states experienced large gains in their graduation rates; 14 states made moderate gains; and four states made modest gains  (Note: 2002 was the first year that state data became available.)

Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

Information set forth in this news release contains financial estimates and other forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially. A discussion of factors that may affect future results is contained in AT&T's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims any obligation to update or revise statements contained in this news release based on new information or otherwise.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is a premier communications holding company and one of the most honored companies in the world. Its subsidiaries and affiliates – AT&T operating companies – are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation's fastest mobile broadband network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. A leader in mobile broadband and emerging 4G capabilities, AT&T also offers the best wireless coverage worldwide of any U.S. carrier, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries.  It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse® and AT&T | DIRECTV brands. The company's suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world. In domestic markets, AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive are known for their leadership in local search and advertising. 

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About Philanthropy at AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives and working with other organizations, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2011, more than $115 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs.

(1) "The College Payoff," Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce [August 2011]