AT&TPart of Pilot Initiative to Reach Underserved Students Across the Country

Thirty students from George Washington High School in Philadelphia today had the opportunity to learn about career possibilities from AT&T employees in the Philadelphia area. The students were members of DECA, a student organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.

Supported by the AT&T Aspire Mentoring Academy, DECA has created a new skills-based pilot in five cities across the country, including Philadelphia, to work with 1,500 underserved students from around the country.

A $150,000 national contribution from AT&T to DECA will support classroom instruction and provide “real world” learning through visits to AT&T work sites. In addition to visiting local AT&T employees to learn about what they do and their backgrounds, the students will also attend DECA conferences and career-focused competitions.

During today’s event, students had the opportunity to learn about careers within the company and the telecommunications industry, and practice workplace readiness skills with AT&T employees who encouraged teens to consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at least 8,654,000 U.S. STEM jobs will exist in 2018, but there is predicted to be a major shortage of qualified college graduates to fill these careers in the US with only 16 percent of American students graduating with STEM degrees.

“Exposing high school students to the many career possibilities in communications technology, in the innovative economy, in high-tech manufacturing – and the importance of their education to pursue them – is critically important to the future of our city and region,” said City Councilman Brian J. O’Neill, of the Tenth District where George Washington High School is located. “Kudos to the DECA program supported by AT&T, and the exposure it gives to our students.”

During the event, AT&T employees from network services taught the students about wireless cell sites that make up the AT&T network and shared what it is like to be a field engineer. Among the activities planned was a “marshmallow challenge” asking students to build the tallest freestanding structure using only 20 spaghetti sticks, one yard of string and tape, and one marshmallow.

“Working with students from Philadelphia to help equip them for the jobs of tomorrow is not only important, but inspiring,” said J. Michael Schweder, president, AT&T Mid Atlantic. “AT&T Aspire looks for ways to help students be prepared for college and career success. DECA does this and helps make these students’ dreams into reality.”

The program is built upon DECA’s renowned comprehensive learning program which is industry validated and supports the Common Core and supports 21st century skills. In addition to Philadelphia, other pilot cities include Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and Seattle, Washington.

“The personal and societal impacts of not graduating high school are staggering,” said Paul Wardinski, Executive Director, DECA. “Helping young people see the relevance and impact of learning has been at the heart of DECA’s mission for nearly 70 years and why we’re so honored to be named a national partner of AT&T’s Aspire Mentoring Academy.”

The contribution is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s $350 million signature education initiative focused on high school success and career readiness. The program engages AT&T’s network, mobile and cloud technologies, its employees and its partners to make a transformational impact on learning.

For more information about DECA, please visit the web site and follow DECA on Facebook and Twitter.