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Supporting Education: AT&T Aspire

Materiality Assessment Topic: Education/high-tech skills development, Philanthropy and employee volunteering, Global Reporting Initiative G4 Indicators: LA10, EC7, EC8, SO1

Issue Summary

Currently, 1 out of 5 students overall — including about 25% of African American and 22% of Hispanic students — fail to graduate with their class. And of those who do, many are not properly prepared to continue their education or to succeed in the workplace. At the same time, the tech industry needs a qualified, robust and diverse talent pipeline to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow and to continue to compete in the global economy. AT&T believes companies have an obligation to help students graduate from school and to make sure they are prepared to meet the needs of the future workforce.

Our Position

At AT&T, we are using the power of our network to build a better tomorrow. Education has been our priority for more than a century. Through our signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, we are accelerating the learning revolution and helping to connect it to the young people who need it most.

Data Highlights

2016 Key Performance Indicators
  • Amount contributed or directed through corporate-, employee-, social investment- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs:


Arts & Culture

Civic & Community


Health & Welfare








  • Number of employee pledges through Employee Giving Campaign: >37.45M
2020/2025 Goals
  • 2020 Goal: We will invest resources, develop initiatives and collaborate with stakeholders with the goal of increasing the U.S. high school graduation rate to 90% by 2020.i
  • 2025 Goal: We will invest resources, develop initiatives and collaborate with stakeholders to close the skills gap by increasing the number of Americans with high-quality, post-secondary degrees or credentials to 60% by 2025.ii

Click here to learn more about our 2020/2025 Goals.

iGraduation rate as measured by GradNation, a campaign of America’s Promise Alliance:  

iiDegree/credential rate as measured by MoveED, a campaign of the Lumina Foundation:

Targets to our 2020/2025 Goals
In Progress
2017 Target: Plan to contribute an additional $250 million by 2017 to drive innovation in education, support effective local programs and create collective impact.
  • PROGRESS: We completed this goal and increased our total commitment through Aspire to $400 million by the end of 2017. Program highlights included:
    • Working with Udacity to expand the Nanodegree program, which offers new educational online pathways to industry-relevant skills, to prepare more people with the skills needed for high-demand tech jobs requiring technological expertise. There are now more than 25,000 learners taking Nanodegree courses since 2014.
    • Supporting a number of organizations that help underserved students develop computer science and coding skills, including Girls Who Code, Black Girls CODE and
    • Contributing to innovative organizations such as iCouldBe, iMentor and We Teach Science to help even more students explore their potential through online mentoring.
2020 Target: Encourage technology applications to solve vexing education challenges through the Aspire Accelerator for non-profits and for-profits.
  • PROGRESS: In 2016, AT&T selected 6 organizations for the second Aspire Accelerator class to support with a customized program that includes financial investment, access to expert services and mentorship. The 11 participants from the first 2 classes have thrived in the program and together have reached more than 4 million students.
2025 Target: By the end of 2017, promote STEM training by co-developing and attracting 10,000 students to the Georgia Tech online master’s degree in computer science program and 23,000 students to the Udacity Nanodegree program.

  • PROGRESS: As of EOY 2016, more than 25,000 learners are enrolled in nanodegree programs sponsored by AT&T, nearly 2,000 of whom are AT&T employees. These learners are earning credentials that propel them to the next stage in their careers. Worldwide, more than 1.9 million learners have benefitted from Nanodegree curriculum, gaining new, industry-aligned knowledge.
  • Additionally, the Georgia Tech online computer science project has attracted more than 10,000 students through applications and enrollments and more than 400 AT&T employees are activity enrolled in the program as of end of 2016.

Our Action

By investing in new tools and solutions that leverage our unique technologies and capabilities, AT&T enables personalized and mobilized learning for students of all ages and backgrounds. We provide and support opportunities to foster skills that meet the needs of the future workforce. We connect AT&T employees with students to mentor and help them discover their passions and potential.

AT&T Aspire

The company’s signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, drives innovation in education to promote student success in school and beyond. With a commitment of $400 million since 2008, AT&T is leveraging technology, relationships and social innovation to help all students make their biggest dreams a reality.

We also aspire to:

  • Remove barriers to academic success and career growth and help all students — regardless of age, gender or income — achieve their goals.
  • Spark innovation and empower students, educators and caregivers to utilize new technologies for personal, career and community growth.
  • Build a viable, creative and adaptive workforce that is prepared to face the changing needs of employers and customers.
  • Support organizations and solutions that offer a socially innovative approach to improving teaching, learning and workforce development.
  • Create innovative products and services that can impact teaching and learning.

Through Aspire, we focus on:

Accelerating Learning

Technology is fundamentally altering education by removing barriers so that all — regardless of age, gender, income or zip code — can have the opportunity to reach their goals. Through Aspire, we’re investing in tools to spark and scale new learning innovation:

  • We’ve graduated 2 classes of organizations from the Aspire Accelerator. The Aspire Accelerator’s mission is to support innovations that have the potential to help every student achieve a bright, successful future — exponentially and at scale. In 2016, 6 innovative ed-tech startups were chosen to receive a financial investment, mentorship and access to expert services from AT&T and others.  
  •  In 2016, AT&T contributed $200,000 to Per Scholas to support national technology training programs that serve more than 1,000 low-income, unemployed/underemployed individuals. The funding will support the growth of Per Scholas’ national IT training program as well as a new collaboration with General Assembly called CodeBridge, which prepares graduates for mid-skill IT and web development positions.
  • We’ve contributed $2.5 million to Khan Academy to help develop a personal and interactive app. Khan’s free online library of learning resources brings interactive, personalized learning to students via problem questions, handwriting recognition and more. Students can learn using videos, interactive exercises and articles on subjects from algebra to prehistoric art to chemistry.
  • In Latin America, ESCUELA+ continues to be the most advanced and complete TV education program deployed in schools. Approximately 80% of the schools in the program are rural schools, which also makes the program one of the most active in bridging the digital divide. As a catalyst for positive change in primary and secondary education, we work in collaboration with private companies, government departments of education and other stakeholders to positively transform the classroom experience. The program combines deployment of: technology; partner educational content and support materials; innovative audio/visual classroom methodology; specialized customer service; and ongoing communication and engagement. By year-end 2016, ESCUELA+ impacted:
    • 7,544 schools in countries
    • 17K+ teachers, trained in-person and 79K+ trained in total
    • 2M+ students
    • 498 employee volunteers in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela
    • 600+ hours of in-person teacher training through 100+ activities

Powering Careers

The tech industry needs a capable and diverse pipeline of employees to fuel 21st century jobs, but the need is currently outpacing supply. To power the global economy, we need to bridge the skills gap and build a diverse talent pipeline for the jobs of today and the future.

  • To prepare more people with the skills needed for high-demand tech jobs that require technological expertise, we are teaming up with education technology leader Udacity on Nanodegrees programs — educational online pathways to industry-relevant skills. Nanodegree courses are online, self-paced and taught by leaders in tech, with personalized coaches. More than 25,000 learners worldwide, including nearly 2,000 employees, are enrolled in various nanodegree credentialing courses; to date, more than 400 employees have earned a credential.
  • AT&T is collaborating with Georgia Tech and Udacity to offer an online Master of Science degree in computer science. The degree can be earned completely through the massive open online course (MOOC) format and is supported by a multi-million dollar AT&T contribution to fund the program.
    • As of fall 2016, nearly 4,000 students have enrolled in the Georgia Tech Online Master of Science in computer science – a ten-fold increase since the program launched in 2014. More than 400 employees have enrolled and the program has produced nearly 300 graduates including more than 30 AT&T employees.
  • In 2016, we also collaborated with the University of Notre Dame to announce a new online master of science degree with a specialization in data science.
  • AT&T is supporting a number of organizations that help underrepresented students develop computer science and coding skills. This includes:
    • A $2 million contribution to Girls Who Code to support the expansion of the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program and Clubs Program, and the launch of the Girls Who Code Alumni Network;
    • A $156,000 contribution to Black Girls CODE to launch new chapters in Dallas and Miami, including the establishment of flagship chapter offices, operations and programming that serve 1,000 students; and
    • A $500,000 contribution to to develop a computer science curriculum, evaluate the impact of its programming and enhance activities that will help encourage a more diverse student body in the field of computer science.
  •  With support from AT&T, Roadtrip Nation, an organization that creates innovative career exploration resources to help students explore pathways aligned with their interests, launched a STEM Girls’ Roadtrip in 2016 with the goal to empower young girls interested in STEM fields. Three young women were selected to travel across the country to speak to underrepresented professionals in STEM who have overcome obstacles and paved a successful path in their careers. In addition to the cross-country road trip, the AT&T commitment includes a nationwide screening tour once the film releases, an online hub for STEM professionals to “share their road” digitally, as well as a curriculum distribution plan that will provide students nationwide with access to Roadtrip Nation’s exclusive online career exploration tools.
  • In 2016, AT&T contributed $900,000 to Teach For America (TFA) to support and expand its computer science initiative, CS@TFA. The support will bring high-quality opportunities to teachers and students in 7 regions: the San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City, New York City, the Rio Grande Valley, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. The funding will also provide Udacity Nanodegree credential scholarships to up to 50 students of TFA teachers to help students learn the skills needed for entry-level jobs in the tech industry.
  • AT&T has invested $6 million in Genesys Works since 2012 to help provide more underserved high school students with hands-on work experience and career training. Genesys Works offers an intensive summer training program with professional and technical skills development, as well as career coaching. After the training, students begin a paid, year-long internship at companies such as AT&T. Our 2016 contribution for $2 million will bring this program to an additional 11,000 students across the country.
  • Year Up, a non-profit that provides urban young adults with the skills, experience and support they need to reach their potential, received a $1 million investment AT&T to expand its corporate training program to expand to Dallas. In addition, AT&T is hosting Year Up interns in the Dallas and Miami offices to provide them with firsthand experience in sales and customer support.
  • In 2016, AT&T also announced a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to promote Access from AT&T, our low-cost home internet access program for households participating in the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As a part of this collaboration, AT&T agreed to provide up to 100 Udacity Nanodegree scholarships to select participants in designated HUD communities across the country.

Supporting Students

Through Aspire, we’re connecting communities through proven strategies to help students succeed. This includes engaging our employees to mentor students around the world and investing in best in class organizations that meet the needs of young people everywhere.

When mentors connect to young people, both are changed for the better. AT&T employees connect with students to help them discover their career passions and potential. We collaborate with best-in-class non-profits to provide a variety of mentoring opportunities both in person and online. Since the fall of 2012, our employees have impacted more than 260,000 students through more than 1.5 million hours of mentoring.

This past school year, we contributed more than $1.3 million to innovative organizations such as iCouldBe, iMentor and We Teach Science to help more students explore their potential through online mentoring.

Some of our other non-profit collaborators for mentoring include:

The national graduation rate is at an all-time high of 83.2% for the class of 2015. In spite of this progress, significant challenges remain. Serious graduation gaps persist between students of different races, ethnicities, income-levels and special needs.iii AT&T is proud to be a lead supporter of the Grad Nation Campaign and to work with many successful education organizations across the country, meeting the unique needs of students in their communities.

  • In 2016, AT&T selected 18 non-profits to share in $10 million through the Aspire Connect to Success Competition. The awardees support and motivate underserved students to stay in school and prepare for their next step in life and will serve students in 14 states and Washington, D.C. The awardees each use evidence-based approaches and can prove they make an impact for their students.
  • In 2014, AT&T contributed nearly $12.5 million to 30 organizations that serve 28,000 high school students across the country to strengthen and expand their programs. These evidence-based programs help students graduate from high school prepared for college and a career. Each of the winning programs delivered a quantitative impact and featured proven methods of helping students succeed in academics and careers, such as providing integrated services, mentoring or focusing on college or career preparation. While the results continue to grow, data from 2014 awardees show positive outcomes. Aspire students had higher attendance in grades 9-12. And they were more likely to graduate in grades 10-12, than their peers. For Aspire students moving or staying on track to graduate, the overall, life-long return on investment is estimated to fall between $268 and $857 million more than those that did not graduate high school.iv
  • AT&T contributed $2.55 million to Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) to enable the national non-profit to add new schools and/or expand existing programs through their 32 JAG State Affiliates with proven records of success of keeping kids in school. In addition to the expansion of JAG programs, the funding supports local mentoring events between JAG students and AT&T employees through Aspire Mentoring Academy.
  • AT&T has contributed $7.5 million over the last 5 years to support Native American education. Native Americans have the lowest high school graduation rates of any demographic in the country. Most recently in 2016, the company made a $500,000 contribution to the Native American College Fund which will serve about 700 Native students at 3 tribal colleges and local high schools in Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arizona. These funds will connect Native American students to program and support services that can help them complete high school, pursue higher education and thrive in the 21st century.
  • Since 2012, AT&T has contributed more than $3.5 million to City Year and engaged our employees to mentor City Year AmeriCorps members and participate in volunteer projects. City Year unites teams of 17- to 24-year-old AmeriCorps members from diverse ethnic, education and socio-economic backgrounds to engage in a year of full-time service, leadership development and civic engagement. As tutors, mentors and role models to the students, the AmeriCorps members are deployed in teams to high-poverty, urban schools to help students stay in school and on track to graduate.
  • Year Up, a non-profit that provides urban young adults with the skills, experience and support they need to reach their potential, received a $1 million investment from AT&T to expand its corporate training program to expand to Dallas. In addition, AT&T is hosting Year Up interns in the Dallas and Miami offices to provide them with firsthand experience in sales and customer support.

To learn more about our AT&T Aspire initiative, visit

Philanthropy Management at AT&T

Philanthropic giving at AT&T includes both corporate contributions as approved by the AT&T Contributions Council and grants as approved by the AT&T Foundation. Members of the AT&T Contribution Council are appointed by the Chairman and CEO. Oversight of policy for philanthropic giving by AT&T is provided by the AT&T Public Policy and Corporate Reputation Committee. For more information on governance of our philanthropy, please visit our philanthropy policy.

iii Civic Enterprises, Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, America’s Promise Alliance, Building a Grad Nation Report Update 2016

ivSourced from WeStat when extrapolated to the total students served through the program

Updated on: Feb 8, 2018