AT&T and Summer Search: Changing the Narrative for Young Men of Color

Guest post written by Robin White, AT&T’s NYC Area Manager of External Affairs.

Last week I had the honor of speaking on a panel at the Summer Search Annual Meeting about AT&T’s commitment to supporting college readiness programs, including Summer Search’s effort to increase support of Males of Color in their program. Summer Search is a game changer for students, and AT&T is proud to support their work.

MOC-Panel-2 Robin White, sitting between fellow panelists Donald Ruff (left) and Shawn Dove (right).

Listening to my co-panelists talk about their personal experiences as men of color, and the impact of mentors on helping them overcome obstacles and go on to lead successful, enriched lives was very powerful. The keynote speaker of the meeting, Shawn Dove, CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, highlighted that “the right person saying the right thing at the right time” can change a young person’s life.

Donald Ruff, one of the panelists and the Director of Strategic Partnerships & College Planning at Eagle Academy Foundation and a Summer Search Referral Partner spoke about the importance — and the difficulty — of involving parents. The panelists also emphasized the need for young men to change their perception of themselves in the face of current events and media portrayals to inspire them to remain committed to their education.

As one of the country’s largest employers, AT&T believes it is critical for students to have access to the tools and support systems they need to succeed in college and in the workforce. AT&T Aspire, the company’s education initiative, has a priority focus on high school graduation and college readiness. That’s because we believe education is the best possible investment we can make to build a critical talent pipeline for the jobs of the future while also ensuring we have a diverse workforce that is reflective of the communities we serve.

Confident, qualified young men and women of color who are ready to enter STEM careers are essential to the future of our business and our community. Based on current trends, there will be more tech jobs available than there are people with the skills to fit those jobs in the not too distant future. AT&T believes that by investing in programs like Summer Search’s Males of Color Initiative, we can bridge that skills gap and build a diverse and prepared workforce that will lead us in to the future.

That’s why AT&T, through our Aspire initiative, makes a significant financial commitment to education organizations focused on young people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Organizations like Summer Search, All Star Code, Girls Who Code, Aspira and others are vital to ensuring that students — particularly in underserved communities — are afforded opportunities to build their futures through a good education. #ATTimpact

MOC-Panel-1 From left to right: Jabali Sawicki, Summer Search alumnus and National Board Member; Donald Ruff; Robin White; Shawn Dove; and Cyrus Garrett, Executive Director of NYC Young Men’s Initiative.

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