Phone Company Wants To Prevent School Dropouts

AT&T is giving 2-million dollars to the United Way to help fund programs that specifically deal with parents of school children in hopes of keeping kids in school. Bill Stamps has this report.
AT&T has teamed up with United Way Worldwide for a program they call Engagement for High School Success. The program basically provide money for local programs that try and get parents more involved in their kid's schooling.

AT&T's Sarah Andreani says the company wanted to help improved the work force and then researched ways to keep students from dropping out. What they found was…

"The majority of teachers, about 63 percent and the majority of principals felt increasing their schools parental outreach programs would do a lot to reduce the number of high school drop outs."

So they decided to give a million dollars to the national United Way. Local chapters will be able to apply for part of the money. Anna Babin, who is president of the Houston chapter, says she knows exactly what they'd do with the money.

"Currently, we're investing in a program called Houston's kids that really takes a holistic approach to a child that's academically at risk in either elementary, middle school or high school and engaging that child in some life skills, some volunteerism, tutoring, but also engaging the parents in making sure the child is successful at school."


Babin says they started the program after Hurricane Katrina when Houston was flooded with evacuees from New Orleans. They were afraid that the turmoil would impact the children academically.

"Parents were looking for jobs, or parents didn't have the resources, you know, actually food in the food pantry. And once you took care of the whole family, and the parents got the peace of mind, then the parents were better equipped and able to be engaged in the academics of their children."

If you're wondering why AT&T would get involved in school programs, Andreani says it's about looking to the future.

"We see it as these kids that are going through school right now are going to eventually make up the work force at AT&T and the only way that AT&T and other global leaders can stay at the forefront is to have a great work force so we want and go ahead and kind of nip the high school drop in the bud right now cause its something that's going to affect all of us."


Local recipients will be selected in November.

Bill Stamps, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.