OVERVIEW: AT&T supports college and career readiness and STEM education, as well as community development.
IP TAKE: AT&T gives grants though both corporate and foundation funding streams, but the vast majority of its giving happens through hidden channels with no accessibility to organizations that don't already have a relationship with AT&T’s powers that be. The only exceptions are AT&T’s open competitions, which do not seem to be on any given schedule and to-date have exclusively focused on high school students.
PROFILE: AT&T and the AT&T Foundation have a stated commitment to “nonprofit organizations and programs that foster inclusion and create opportunities for diverse populations.” In 2014, that amounted to $125 million of giving across the foundation, the corporation, and employee giving. (AT&T had a matching gift program that was phased out in 2015; the company now focuses on employee volunteerism.)
Drilling down into AT&T’s general description of “inclusion” and “opportunity,” we see that AT&T emphasizes STEM education, particularly as it relates to college and career readiness: “In addition to its overall funding of innovative STEM programs, AT&T remains focused on improving opportunities for STEM learning in K-12 education while helping at-risk youth prepare for work in the 21st century.”
All this is well and good, except that in general neither the corporation nor the foundation share any access or information regarding how to reach out and receive this funding. In other words, getting this particular money is all about who you already know, and about methodically building relationships with the people you don’t already know.
Currently, the primary way to get around this wall is through AT&T Aspire. This AT&T giving program is singularly focused on “innovation in education,” and in 2016 is distributing $10 million through a competition called Connect to Success, funding "best-in-class programs that help underserved students earn their diplomas and prepare for the next step in life" for students in grades 9-12 across the U.S. To date, AT&T has announced two winners:
- $1 million to Family Connection-Communities in Schools in Athens (GA) for its program to support and motivate high school students to stay in school
- $250,000 to New York City’s YMCA for comprehensive college readiness services for disadvantaged student.
There are still 16 winners to be announced; (as of this writing the competition was already closed).
There are no announced plans for a new competition, but if a new one does emerge (likely for 2017 funding) beware that it too might solely focus on grades 9-12 (given AT&T Aspire's college and career readiness framework). So in actuality, your K-12 program should really be a high school program.
James Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President –External and Legislative Affairs and Chair of the AT&T Foundation