Reflecting on 2020 and giving back to our communities

Denis P. Dunn
December 28, 2020
Broadband Access and Affordability

Reflecting on 2020 and giving back to our communities

What are the qualities that define a community? Unity, commitment, and adaptability – all values, when woven together, describe the values our teams work hard to uphold, in and outside the company.

As 2020 comes to an end, we remain steadfast in our commitment to be there for friends, families, coworkers and neighbors. Whether it’s addressing social and economic barriers or empowering those particularly affected by the pandemic, we continue to collaborate with civic and non-profit organizations to provide our communities with the resources they need.

When it comes to racial inequality, it cannot be solved overnight. To do our part, we continue to actively reevaluate how to make a positive impact. Our $10 million commitment to create economic opportunities and foster upward mobility for Black and underserved communities is just one of the many ways we are helping to combat long-standing social inequities.

While the homework gap has existed for decades, COVID-19 has brought national awareness to the problem. Although America’s networks have performed well during the pandemic, many rural and low-income families don’t have the internet access they need to work and learn. We believe in the equality of education and connection is at our core. And now that the classroom has gone digital, we are refocusing our efforts to expand student connectivity.

It is vital we continue to support each other through the COVID-19 pandemic to emerge stronger than ever. From opening opportunity’s doors to closing technology gaps, I invite you to read below and learn more about our journey to building a resilient community.


Denis Dunn

Leveling the playing field: changing barriers to opportunities

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to rapidly change the ways we live and work. So, in a time not short on challenges, how do we change barriers to opportunities? We level the playing field.

  • Closing the homework connectivity gap is a top national priority, and I’m proud that AT&T continues to do its part to keep students connected to their teachers. Recently, we introduced a new education initiative that will build on our efforts and move us closer to closing both the homework gap and the home connectivity gap. And we aren’t stopping there. We also announced a new $10 million contribution and collaboration with Connected Nation that will provide free internet connectivity and devices to underserved communities across the country. Read more about these efforts here.
  • As the pandemic continues to force schools to rely heavily on remote learning, disconnected students are not just missing homework – they are missing critical learning. The federal Lifeline program – a program intended to help make telecommunications services more affordable for low-income Americans – can and should help address these urgent connectivity needs. But first, we need to bring the program into the 21st century. Learn how that can happen.

Supporting equality and upward mobility for underserved communities

At AT&T, we believe each of us has a role to identify and address racial inequality wherever it exists. Many actions can yield positive changes. However, it is not a one size fits all approach. Here’s what we’re doing to make a difference:

  • Be sure to watch Between the World and Me on HBO. Based on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ #1 New York Times bestseller, and later adapted and staged by the Apollo Theater, the special combines elements of that production, including powerful readings from Coates’ book. Watch free episodes here.
  • Washington, DC Teens Access Tech Careers and Offer Tech Support Services to Their Communities with Help from AT&TAs part of its long-standing commitment to address racial inequity, AT&T is increasing its investment in economic opportunities for Black and underserved communities, particularly youth who want to pursue technology and engineering careers but who have traditionally had little access to those careers.

    AT&T contributed $100,000 to On-Ramps to Careers, a local nonprofit that provides technology career opportunities for young people in the District, helping the organization grow 200 tech internships this summer for Black and underserved students to work virtually at companies like Accenture, Acquired Data Solutions, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the DC Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Virginia Tech and UNCF, among many others. The investment will help On-Ramps grow those opportunities to 2,000 over the next five years, including support for alumni to pursue tech careers through college and into the workforce.

    AT&T’s support also helped On-Ramps to Careers pilot the city’s first ever youth-led technology call center as part of those 200 internships this summer. The technology “help desk” empowered youth to support other students and families engaged in distance learning this summer. This model of peer-to-peer support employed more than 30 students and is being considered for expansion this school year. It is setting an example of how youth can support their own communities and peers in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

    The young people of On-Ramps to Careers are nearly all Black and Latinx students predominantly from Wards 5,7 and 8 who On Ramps to Careers helps to stay engaged and focused on their futures while also helping them to provide for their families this year and beyond.

    “Coming into 2020, we already knew how important it is to prepare our young people for careers in tech. Now, with so much of our life going online, it is critical that we connect our young people to new and existing opportunities,” said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We have exceptionally talented students in DC, and through partnerships like this one, we are thrilled that they will have more opportunities to learn, grow, and change the world.”

    Read more here.

AT&T Supports Groups that Create Economic Opportunity in Washington, DC

AT&T is working with organizations across the country to create economic opportunities and foster upward mobility for Black, Brown and underserved communities that face long-standing social inequities and higher unemployment.

In Washington, DC, AT&T is working with two organizations that share those common goals: Voices for a Second Chance (VSC) and SchoolTalk-Restorative DC. AT&T and the AT&T Foundation recently contributed a combined $100,000 to these two organizations to help prevent violence among young people and to help previously incarcerated men and women find jobs and create new opportunities for themselves and their families.

VSC is a Washington, DC nonprofit providing comprehensive services for citizens transitioning from incarceration to community. VSC connects with these individuals in local jails, federal prisons, and community corrections facilities. During incarceration, VSC provides critical connection between the individual and loved ones and community members. Upon reentry, VSC helps clients with obtaining vital records, trauma recovery support groups, referrals to medical and mental health care, and their Family Connections programming for children of incarcerated parents. VSC served over 4,700 clients in 2019, and in 2020 they are experiencing a 20% increase in clients due to the COVID-19 compassionate release laws. AT&T contributed $75,000 to help VSC meet its mission. Read more here.

Violence, trauma, suspensions, and truancy negatively affect school communities and have a disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable students. School Talk’s Restorative DC is a community-based initiative that provides technical assistance to support D.C. schools in the integration of restorative justice philosophy and practices into school communities. Restorative DC is supported by a diverse collective of local restorative justice practitioners. Our team has a deep knowledge base that spans multiple restorative justice models and practices, as well as complementary expertise in social work, drama therapy, non-violent communication, positive discipline, coaching, trauma-informed practices, special education, and more. AT&T contributed $25,000 to School Talk for the Restorative DC initiative.