AT&T has led the country in corporate philanthropy aimed at dramatically increasing the U.S. graduation rate and helping students to thrive, in school and beyond. This commitment is underscored by the work of AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature philanthropic initiative, and its role as lead supporter of GradNation, a campaign of America’s Promise Alliance that seeks to achieve a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020, a goal shared by City Year.

“City Year is proud to collaborate with AT&T to promote evidence-based solutions to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and careers,” says Jim Balfanz, President of City Year. “We could not succeed in this mission to the same degree without the leadership and support of AT&T.”

Nicole Anderson, Assistant Vice President of Social Innovation and President of the AT&T Foundation, shares why the mission alignment of her organization and City Year creates such a strong collaboration. 

City Year Interview with Nicole Anderson of AT&T

Q: How did AT&T first get involved in the work to increase graduation rates, and why did you decide to make this investment a priority?

Since its inception, our philanthropic initiative to drive innovation in education, AT&T Aspire, has focused on evidence-based interventions that can significantly increase the nation’s high school graduation rate over the next several years. We invest in programs that can prove they are really moving the needle for students who are at risk for dropping out. That’s why we were so excited by City Year’s research-based and data-driven approach, and the impact they are having in high schools across the country.

We have to do better if AT&T is going to have the workbench we need to continue to be an innovative company that creates innovative products. We need skilled and prepared employees to bring our company into the future. And that means high school success and workforce readiness.

Q: How does the collaboration between City Year and AT&T help your company reach its philanthropic goals? 

AT&T Aspire seeks to drive innovation in education in multiple ways, including through mentoring. That’s part of the reason why we love City Year’s near-peer model. The relationships between AmeriCorps members and students are what enables the delivery of the evidence-based interventions. Not only are the corps members improving the lives of students, but the corps members themselves are amazing young people who we want to support.

We know many City Year alumni will continue in the field of education, as great classroom teachers or influencing education policy in different ways. City Year AmeriCorps members inspire us. The chance to meet them, hear about their passions and learn what drives them every day, gives us additional motivation to do the work we do through AT&T Aspire.

Another big emphasis for us is employee volunteerism. We so appreciate the way City Year creates phenomenal engagement opportunities for our employees to experience firsthand the work going on every day in schools to help students thrive. Whether it’s painting murals at the local elementary school, getting to meet AmeriCorps members or serving on the boards of local City Year sites, City Year offers AT&T amazing engagement experiences and a way to bring our philanthropic work to life for employees.