JMG launches $250 Million program to boost graduation rates with focus on innovation, technology

By Ramona du Houx - March 28th, 2012 

alt
A student enrolled in JMG tells how important the program has been for her and others she knows
AT&T joined with Jobs for Maine’s Graduates to celebrate the results of a four-year $300,000 grant from AT&T, and to highlight a new commitment by the company of $250 million to help boost high school graduation rates.

“On behalf of all the students we serve, I would like to thank the AT&T Foundation for investing in the future of Maine’s youth,” said Julie Poulin of Jobs for Maine’s Graduates. “Private sector partners like AT&T are not just talking about the skills and resources young people need to succeed in the 21st Century workforce, they’re doing something about it.”

The funding, provided by AT&T through the Aspire Program, enabled JMG to significantly expand their program to provide more than 4,000 middle and high school students across Maine with the skills and resources they need to overcome educational barriers and prepare them for a secondary education and the workforce.

In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of JMG, AT&T officials announced a new $250 million, 5-year financial commitment to the Aspire Program.

“This is a significant investment in preparing the next generation of Americans to succeed in the increasingly competitive global economy,” said Owen Smith, Regional Vice President for AT&T in Maine. “We hope organizations across Maine, including Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, will apply for this new round of funding.”

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 Maine organizations to apply for funding through the Local High School Impact Initiative Requests for Proposals (RFPs).

alt
Promoting the announcement of JMG with AT&T

“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 (http://www.americaspromise.org/), Civic Enterprises (http://www.civicenterprises.net/home.html), The Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University (www.every1graduates.org/), and the Alliance for Excellent Education (http://www.all4ed.org/) brings together nearly 1,200 U.S. leaders to discuss progress and challenges in ending the high school dropout crisis.

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.

Maine organizations interested in getting additional information or applying will find complete details on the RFP process at www.att.com/education-news by clicking on the “Aspire Local Impact RFP” option. Applications will be accepted between now at April 27.

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.)