In an effort to commemorate Native American Heritage Month, AT&T has contributed more than $1 million to connect Native American youth to education. The donation includes $600,000 to the American Indian College Fund and $450,000 to George Washington University.
AT&T has contributed $7.5 million over the last five years to support Native education, which helps because Native Americans have the lowest high school graduation rates of any demographic in the country.
The contribution to the College Fund will serve about 700 Native students at three tribal colleges and local high schools in Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arizona. Working with tribal colleges and universities will connect Native American students to program and support services that can help them complete high school, pursue higher education, and thrive in the 21st century.
George Washington University will establish the AT&T Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy, its first-ever politics and public policy center dedicated to indigenous learning. The GW Native American Political Leadership Program will continue to provide a semester in Washington, D.C. for Native American college students. AT&T sponsors the GW Native American INSPIRE Pre-College Program, which is a full scholarship open to Native American high school students. They spend three weeks on campus learning about the relationships between tribal governments and the federal government.
“American Indians face many unique challenges to getting an education. And Native youth experience some of the lowest high school graduation rates nationwide,” Cheryl Crazy Bull, American Indian College Fund president and CEO said in a press release. “This continued support from our longtime collaborator, AT&T, will allow the College Fund to help more students get a high school diploma and access postsecondary education alongside opportunities to learn about their language, culture and history.”
“We’re excited to establish a unique center in Washington, D.C. to study Native American politics and policy, and we are grateful for AT&T’s support,” said Ali Eskandarian, dean of GW’s College of Professional Studies. “This is an important opportunity for the university in its continued commitment to diversity.”
In 2013-14 the Native high school graduation rate was 69.6 percent, the national graduation rate was 82.3 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Contributions from AT&T aim to help Native American students overcome barriers to higher education.
AT&T has contributed to Native American youth in other ways, including:
Murrow Indian Children’s Home, a program that recruits inter-tribal elders and trains them to serve as foster grandparents and cultural mentors to children living at the Murrow Indian Children’s Home in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
The College Fund internship program worked with AT&T to identify and recruit candidates from tribal colleges and universities for internships for the summer of 2016. The company is currently seeking 2017 interns.
Seminole State College’s President’s Leadership Class provides freshmen and sophomore students educational and cultural experiences to better prepare them for the workforce upon college graduation.
Project Circle Teacher helps low-income Native American high school students at reservation schools receive instruction in mathematics.
Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation in South Dakota funds books and school supplies for graduates of the Indian University of North America Summer Program.
National Center for American Indian Organizations works to advance the economic interests of Indian country.
Oyate Networking Project on the Pine Ridge Reservation to help fund school supplies for 500 Native American students.
“AT&T has a long history of supporting Indian country, and we’re proud to be a part of initiatives that are improving Native communities’ quality of life by creating the leaders and workforce of tomorrow,” said Tom Brooks, vice president of external affairs at AT&T, in a press release. “The latest contributions continue AT&T’s commitment to supporting and connecting Native American communities and building a diverse pipeline of tech talent.”