Funds to Combat Dropout Crisis and Promote Workforce Readiness
One Millionth Student Identified and Honored
Des Moines, Iowa, December 18, 2014 – AT&T today announced a $168,120 contribution to Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) to combat the high school dropout crisis in Iowa and prepare students for jobs and careers.
Through the contribution, iJAG will be able to expand mentoring, tutoring and other academic support for students at risk of dropping out and help them overcome barriers to graduation. With a high school diploma or General Educational Diploma, iJAG helps guide students into post-secondary education, entry-level careers, americorp or the military.
Over the past fifteen years, iJAG programs have exceeded the National JAG standard for graduation (National 90%; iJAG’s 95%), exceeded Iowa’s high school graduation rate of 90% and has graduated over 8,639 at-risk students. Of that number, 40% of iJAG participants have continued their education at colleges, universities, and other vocational and technical training centers.
“The iJAG dropout prevention program has been very effective, but continued success depends on a strong public-private partnership,” saidLaurie Phelan, iJAG President and CEO. “We’re grateful for AT&T’s generous support and applaud them for investing in Iowa’s future workforce and helping students succeed and realize their full potential.”
“There is nothing more important than investing in our children,” said Cheryl Riley, president-AT&T Iowa. “Given the increasing need for higher education or job training, we’re proud to support iJAG and the work they do to help students stay in school and gain the knowledge and skills they’ll need to be successful in the workforce.”
AT&T’s support for iJAG is part of AT&T Aspire, a $350 million initiative focused on driving innovation in education through socially innovative solutions that address the high school dropout crisis and help students prepare for college and career success.
AT&T Aspire helps fuel the talent pipeline by ensuring the future workforce of the country will be stocked with qualified employees who have the drive, professionalism and 21st century skills that American businesses need to remain competitive.It aligns perfectly with iJAG’s goal of providing at-risk high school students with the opportunity and skills to work and succeed.
In more than three decades of operation, the national JAG organization has helped more than one million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue postsecondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.To commemorate the millionth national JAG student, each state has selected a symbolic millionth student representative. Noel Gonzales of Des Moines has been selected as Iowa’s Millionth student representative.
iJAG Millionth Student: A Personal Story
As part of the check presentation ceremony, iJAG recognized it millionth student, Noel Gonzalez. As a second year iJAG student at Des Moines Lincoln High School, Noel demonstrates what it means to provide, hope, opportunity, and the delivery of a promise made to young people all across Iowa and Illinois.
Elected President of the iJAG Career Association by his peers, life was not always what it seemed to be on the outside. Noel’s parents divorced when he was three, and Noel watched his mother struggle to raise three children alone. His mom wanted the best education for her children, sending Noel and his brother and sister to private, Catholic schools for elementary and middle school.
During Noel’s freshman year, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. School became more difficult for him, as Noel needed to get a part-time job to help his single mother make ends meet. The more ill his mother got, the less Noel cared about school, but his mother continued to help him and encourage him to stay on track. Unfortunately, after a year, Noel’s mother passed away.
Since Noel’s parents did not get a chance to pursue higher education, as they had wished they could, college means a lot to him. Noel credits iJAG with helping him and guiding him towards graduating and attending the college he desires, with a goal of becoming a dental hygienist.
Noel reminds us each day by saying, “iJAG is a great program to be in and I hope that iJAG continues to grow for future students.”
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About Philanthropy at AT&T
AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2012, more than $131 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs.
iJAG is an independent, statewide 501(c)(3) private nonprofit corporation established in 1999 and has become a leader within the national JAG network. Initially created for high school seniors as a school-to-work program, iJAG has evolved into an organization serving more than 1,500 students per year in 35 programs (30 schools), reaching into multiple communities across the state of Iowa and Illinois.
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