AT&T’s Online Mentoring Academy: A Model for Public-Private Partnering

By Jessica Knott
Associate Editor
Editor, Twitter

AT&T recently announced a $350 million initiative designed to increase high school graduation rates and place at-risk students more firmly on the career track. The Aspire Mentoring Academy plans to fund three different types of mentoring, in many cases provided by AT&T’s employees, and encompassing job mentoring, skills mentoring and e-mentoring.*

Job mentors are AT&T employees, sharing their experiences via project-based activities. According to Kat Bockli, PR representative for AT&T, employees sign up through the Aspire Mentoring Academy internal website. They are then provided with preparatory materials and training. Most of the training is online, but AT&T also plans partnerships with non-profits such as Junior Achievement, We Teach Science and The LEAD Program. “As our organizations work together to increase U.S. high school graduation rates, giving students real-world learning experiences is key to showing them the importance of staying in school,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and chief executive officer of Junior Achievement USA(r). “By working with AT&T employees at Aspire Mentoring Academy, students understand how what they learn in school applies to their lives after graduation.”

When it comes to project assessment, the program is interested in “data-driven outcomes that improve high school graduation rates,” according to Janiece Evans-Page, AVP for Community Engagement at AT&T. “Other on-track to graduate indicators, or ‘smaller metrics,’ include on-time promotion to the next grade and improved attendance rates. These shorter term metrics are key to achieving the high school graduation goal and will be included in how we measure our success.”

To be effective, the initiative requires significant support from AT&T employees. “I was mentored by a young professional when in high school. It made a big difference in the path my life took,” said Clara Garza, Aspire Academy mentor and Lead Chief of Staff for Executive Operations at AT&T, Dallas. “One of the best things about AMA is there are several mentoring opportunities the employee can choose from. You can participate in short-term mentoring events in the workplace or in classroom settings or choose a long-term mentoring option with a series of classroom settings or student mentoring. AMA is also fully customized – you can do it on your own time, when there is a particular need and they give you the tools to be successful.”

More information on Aspire Mentoring Academy can be found at http://www.att.com/gen/corporate-citizenship?pid=11547.
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* Update submitted by Kat Bockli, AT&T, on 10.24.12: “AT&T has launched AT&T Aspire, a $350 million initiative designed to increase high school graduation rates and place at-risk students more firmly on the career track. The Aspire Mentoring Academy is the key community engagement program of Aspire that plans to fund three different types of mentoring provided by AT&T’s employees, and encompassing job mentoring, skills mentoring and e-mentoring.”

Edited 10.24.12 at 07:00.

One Response

  1. This is just the type of private-public partnership that makes a difference! What a wonderful idea. If I had my druthers, every student, from the 4th (or earlier?) grade on, would be mentored in an area that interests her/him. This would continue throughout her 4-12 school years and, preferably, carry over into college and result, after graduation, in a position that’s related to the mentoring. This is possible because of online technology. Without it, the employees wouldn’t have the time to work with students and students wouldn’t be able leave school and commute to mentoring. Matching mentors and mentees is easier because geography and time (for async communications) wouldn’t be an issue.

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