200 students from Eastside High School will participate in a youth development program aimed at getting them to aim for college thanks to a $333,000 grant from telecom giant AT&T.
Students will receive mentoring services, visit college campuses, receive assistance to secure scholarships, and get help to complete financial aid applications as part of the after-school youth development program at the Eastside High School’s School of Government and Public Administration.
“College is not out of reach. A lot of kids growing up in unfortunate circumstances think college is only for rich kids or I’ll never be able to get in or succeed because I don’t come from that background.” said Carlos Valentin, executive director of ASPIRA Association, a nonprofit organization with a mission to encourage minority students to stay in school and aim for college. “What programs like ours do is expose kids to the collegiate experience.”
The nonprofit received $750,000 through AT&T’s Aspire Connect to Success Competition. It was one of 18 organizations in the U.S. to receive a share of $10 million from the telecom giant. Washington D.C.-based ASPIRA Association will use $333,000 to serve 680 high school students over a two-year period at Eastside High School in Paterson; Dickinson High School in Jersey City; and James Ferris High School in Jersey City.
“Young people need a high school diploma to stay on track for college and career success. Our company’s future, as well as the country’s, is dependent on today’s young people,” J. Michael Schweder, president, AT&T mid-Atlantic region, said. “Through Aspire, we support programs that invest in students, especially those who need it the most, so they can walk across the graduation stage ready for their future.”
Valentin said one of the key aims of the program at Eastside High School is to develop leadership skills in the students to produce the leaders of tomorrow. He said the program has been at the school since September.
Valentin said he is grateful to AT&T for the funding. Paterson school superintendent Donnie Evans welcomed the program.
“As one of the most diverse school districts in the country, we have welcomed the support of the ASPIRA Youth Development Program and we want to thank AT&T for their generous contribution to ASPIRA for use at our School of Government and Public Administration at Eastside,” Evans said. “This funding will help us to continue with critical services for our high school students such as arranging college tours and assistance with college applications.”
Jay Rahman contributed to reporting.