AT&T is Helping Underserved Youth Succeed Amidst COVID-19

Originally published on AT&T is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.

AT&T Finalizes Commitment to Help Vulnerable Youth Succeed Amidst Pandemic

Today, AT&T is finalizing its $10 million commitment in 2020 to organizations working to create economic opportunities and foster upward mobility for Black and underserved communities, especially those in situations exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a $1 million contribution to Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG).

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) has been helping vulnerable youth overcome significant economic, emotional, social, and academic challenges for 40 years. Even amidst the pandemic and a virtual model, we’re encouraged that JAG participants are still experiencing high rates of graduation and job placements.  This recent contribution from was instrumental, as it helped sustain JAG programs nationwide during this year of unprecedented disruption.

Here are some inspiring stories from recent JAG graduates and Specialists, who serve as guides and mentors to students going through the program.

Analicia Zamora Castro — Phoenix, AZ

Analicia Zamora Castro grew up in a single-parent household. The youngest of three children, she lacked confidence in her abilities. Analicia joined the JAG program at her high school, Quora Linda in Phoenix, AZ. “JAG helped me gain confidence, making me the person and leader I am today,” she said.

Analicia graduated from high school in 2020 and is now at Arizona State University studying political science. Her goal is to attend law school to study international law. Her JAG Specialist is following up with Analicia for a full year after high school graduation to help ensure a successful transition in this next stage of life. Analicia thinks this is particularly important as she participates in her college classes via Zoom due to the ongoing pandemic.

Rosengela ‘Rosa’ Vaughn, JAG Student, Assurance Learning Academy – Lancaster, CA

At a very early age, Rosengela ‘Rosa’ Vaughn, was left with her aunt in her native Guatemala as her parents traveled to the US to seek better opportunities. As a child, Rosa decided to come to this country, as well, moving to California to live with her mother. Unfortunately, her mother lacked the means to provide a safe, stable home environment, and Rosa was placed in the foster care system.

Rosa faced various challenges acclimating to her new foster home, including becoming pregnant while in high school. Rosa was on a path with limited opportunities until she enrolled at Assurance Learning Academy Charter School and entered the Jobs 4 California’s Graduates (J4CG) program.

While in the program, Rosa received mentoring, tutoring, counseling, and parenting support. Rosa is now only 11 credits away from graduating high school and has a 3.0 GPA. She will be attending Chaffey College in the spring as part of Assurance’­­­s dual enrollment cohort. Rosa is on track to attend college and work part-time after graduation.

Nicole Perry, Specialist, Morgan County High School, West Liberty, KY

Nicole works in Morgan County, which recently received an emergency grant from AT&T to help fund their program. The JAG Program at Morgan County High School started in November 2018. That first year, 38 students participated in the program.

During the second year of the program – the 2019-2020 school year – the JAG program more than doubled, with the maximum number of students enrolled (104). Nicole said the program was so popular that there was a waiting list of young people hoping to join.

In her role as Specialist, Nicole works closely with her students, providing support, mentoring, and job training, while also proactively conducting employer engagement.

“My students have had so many positive experiences with employers, the community, and within the classroom, and I’m incredibly proud of their successes. I’m also extremely grateful to AT&T for their generous grant to help sustain our local program,” Nicole said.

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