Maribel Perez's transition to high school was challenging, between keeping her grades—and her self-confidence—up. But then a teacher referred her to an ACCESS after-school program that supports student success.
Now, the 15-year-old Melvindale High School student is thriving, with better self-confidence and an improved GPA.
"Becoming involved in the ACCESS program has provided me with better self-confidence to not be afraid to get help when needed," Maribel said.
And a $300,000 grant from AT&T aims to pass that success on to other students in southeast Michigan. Announced Thursday, the grant will support the Pathway to Success program at the Dearborn-based ACCESS, which offers tutoring, student support and leadership development.
The grant will allow ACCESS to expand the Pathway to Success program to include more students and a dedicated graduation specialist at two areas high schools: Frontier International Academy in Hamtramck and Melvindale High School.
The funds will support the program in serving an at-risk population with multiple barriers to academic success, including segregation, limited English language skills, poverty, and a family history of low literacy and educational attainment levels. In recognizing the importance of early identification and intervention, the project serves a minimum of 120 students in ninth grade and those who are not on track to advance to tenth grade.
The AT&T grant is part of nearly $10 million in donations from the company's Aspire program. AT&T announced an additional quarter-billion-dollar expansion to the program earlier this year, bringing the total commitment to $350 million since launching in 2008.
"As an employer and an investor in Michigan, AT&T, its employees and our neighbors all have a vested interest in seeing Michigan high school students graduate and move on to a better education that can mean a brighter future," said Jim Murray, president of AT&T Michigan. "ACCESS is making a difference for kids in southeast Michigan and in doing so is making a difference for our state and its workforce."
Aspire applicants were evaluated based on their accomplishments in serving students at risk of dropping out of high school and their ability to use data to demonstrate the effectiveness of their work. According to AT&T ACCESS was identified as making a real difference in its community by supporting the efforts of Melvindale High School and Frontier International Academy in improving high school graduation rates by applying proven intervention strategies and social innovation principles rooted in science, technology, engineering and math.
"We are extremely grateful to AT&T for this support, which will sow the seeds of success for students who otherwise might not have been able to reach their full potential," said Hassan Jaber, executive director of ACCESS. "These funds will expand a program that has proven to be extremely effective at enhancing academic achievement among at-risk students at other area schools."
To learn more about all of the organizations that were selected, please visit att.com/aspire.