Reflecting on 2020 and giving back to our communities

Steve Hahn
December 28, 2020
Community Impact, Innovation and Technology

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.


Steve Hahn

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.
  • Since 2016, AT&T has been working with YearUp to close the so-called ‘opportunity divide.’ The program works to ensure young adults gain skills, experiences and support needed to reach their potential. That’s why we’ve committed to hosting 200 YearUp interns by 2022. Learn more here.

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:

  • Calling all innovators! Ready to improve our communities? AT&T is collaborating with Nex Cubed to support technology development and entrepreneurship at HBCUs across the US through the Nex Cubed HBCU Founder’s Program. The program inspires students to pursue entrepreneurship related to key social determinants including real estate, education, financial services, and digital health. Student sign up and more program information can be found here.
  • As part of our $10 million commitment to create economic opportunity and foster upward mobility for Black and underserved communities, AT&T will be offering nearly 2,300 scholarships to online learning academies Udacity and Coursera. The scholarships – valued around $1.5 million – will be distributed through our Believe initiative. Read more here.
  • Be sure to watch the HBO special Between the World and Me. Based on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ #1 New York Times bestseller, and later adapted and staged by the Apollo Theater, the special will combine elements of that production, including powerful readings from Coates’ book. Watch free HBO episodes here.

Celebrating our past and inspiring our future

Our commitment to innovation is nothing new. Whether it’s present day or in our past – we’ve been ahead of the game. 65 years ago was the first trial of the Bell system’s solar battery:1