AT&T and America’s Promise Alliance unleashed the power of young people to become a critical part of the solution in reversing the dropout crisis and improving outcomes for themselves and their peers.

AT&T’s $1 million contribution to the Alliance to fund the re-granting initiative has enabled them to provide young people nationwide with the opportunity to develop and implement their own ideas for increasing the nation’s graduation rate. More than just building awareness, there was a call to action for young people to propose solutions to the dropout crisis with two types of My Idea grants. The overarching goal was to mobilize high school age youth to reflect on their communities and the dropout crisis and then propose and lead projects that address a contributing factor. This exciting opportunity challenged young people to come up with their own ideas, carry them out, and make a meaningful contribution to ongoing local efforts to prepare all young people for college, work and life. The youth-led action encouraged great changes locally but also provided real life examples and inspiration to the national movement.

 

In 2010, My Idea grants for youth-led projects were awarded in two ways:

 

  • Locally-awarded grants  -- My Idea grants in amounts ranging from $500-$1,500 were awarded locally and managed by 10 of the Alliance’s Featured Communities through a designated Local Grant Manager (LGM) organization. The Local Grant Manager led the promotion, applicant recruitment, and administration of the local grant program for semester long projects and received $5,000 to support the team on carrying out the objectives. LGMs received guidance, training, and ongoing support from the Alliance national office. A total of 65 youth-led projects were implemented between August and December, 2010.
  • National-awarded grants   -- My Idea grants in amounts ranging from $5,000-$20,000 were awarded nationally and available to high school aged youth in any community across the country. Each national grant winner received direct interaction and coaching from the Alliance office. A total of 33 youth-led projects were implemented in the 2010-2011 school year.

Additional young people were engaged in the review and selection of the winning applications through both local and national review panels. Each selected Idea Leader was supported by a local partner organization that acted as fiscal agent and designated an official Adult Supporter. 

The AT&T contribution and the My Idea Grants program are an important component of GradNation, the next phase of the Alliance’s highly successful Dropout Prevention campaign. A 10-year initiative, GradNation is focused on mobilizing Americans to end the dropout crisis and ensuring that young people have the key supports they need for college and a 21st century career. This work will pay special attention to areas of the country where the need is the greatest, especially communities surrounding the nation’s lowest-performing high schools, which account for approximately 50 percent of all young people who drop out of school.

AT&T’s contribution is one of the largest gifts ever made to the Alliance and was made through the AT&T Aspire program, the corporation’s $100 million commitment to help students succeed in high school, the workforce, and in life. AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. As part of its commitment, AT&T launched Aspire in April 2008. AT&T Aspire is one of the largest-ever corporate commitments to address high school success and workforce readiness.