AT&T Creates $10 Million Fund to Support Parents, Teachers & Students Throughout COVID-19 School Closures
AT&T is creating a Distance Learning and Family Connections Fund to give parents, students and teachers tools they need for at-home learning. The fund also will provide resources to maintain meaningful connections and bonding opportunities for those isolated from family and friends.
“Our country is grappling with an unprecedented challenge,” said Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T Inc. “Now more than ever before, connecting people with the resources they need to maintain a sense of normalcy is paramount. For students and teachers, that means creating the best digital learning environment. For families, that means simply staying connected to loved ones. Over the coming weeks and months, we’re committed to standing alongside the communities where we live and work, as we navigate through this trying time.”
The $10 million Distance Learning and Family Connections Fund is launching today with its first contribution of $1 million to Khan Academy. This collaboration will improve and expand online learning resources to meet growing demand from parents, teachers and students, including those who rely on free resources and need Khan Academy the most. It will also support the development of new resources designed specifically for COVID-19 school closures.
Available in more than 40 languages, Khan Academy offers educational practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empowers students to study at home. Khan Academy also offers free tools for teachers and parents to help them track student progress. Learn more at KhanAcademy.org.
With an estimated 47 million students now learning from home in the U.S. alone, Khan Academy is meeting a critical need. Our collaboration comes alongside a $1 million contribution from Google.org for this online learning initiative, as we both commit to support distance learning.
"AT&T and Google.org have been committed supporters of Khan Academy," said Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy. "We're grateful that they're helping us respond quickly to school closures so everyone can keep learning at home."
As circumstances surrounding COVID-19 change daily, so too does the impact on our communities. To best allocate resources from the Distance Learning and Family Connections Fund, we’re working alongside families, educators and community leaders to understand the challenges they will face in the days and weeks to come.
“These donations are important because they will help students and families maintain some normalcy as our communities respond to the outbreak of this virus,” said Sindy M. Benavides, chief executive officer, League of United Latin American Citizens. “It is important that people are able to continue their education as they cope with this rapidly changing environment. We thank AT&T for acting swiftly and for their leadership.”
“Members of our communities face many challenges amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and they need the ability to continue to learn and bond,” said Marc Morial, president, National Urban League. “Everyone is in this together. We are proud to see companies like AT&T helping provide their resources so that people can continue their education and connect with their families and friends.”
Keeping Communities Connected
AT&T recognizes that staying in touch with your family, friends, school and work has never been more important. To provide further support, AT&T announced:
Unlimited AT&T Home Internet – All AT&T consumer home internet wireline customers, as well as Fixed Wireless Internet, can use unlimited internet data. Additionally, we will continue to offer internet access for qualifying limited income households at $10 per month through our Access from AT&T program. We’ve expanded eligibility to Access from AT&T to households participating in the National School Lunch Program and Head Start. Additionally, we’re offering new Access from AT&T customers two months of free service.
Wireless technology is powering unprecedented innovation in nearly every sector of the global economy. From telemedicine to fitness tracking, increasing speeds and increasing connectivity are fueling new technologies every day. And that trend is only going to accelerate with the rise of the next generation of networks – 5G.
A recent study estimates that 5G has the potential to add $500 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and create 3 million new jobs by 2025. As 5G technology continues to mature, the Asian American community stands to benefit from new and exciting improvements. That includes expanded telehealth offerings to an Internet of Things (IoT) connected world of smart appliances able to revolutionize so many aspects of our lives.
Importantly, there is immense potential for 5G technology to impact the International Leadership Foundation (ILF) and the leaders of the communities we serve. For example, connectivity is crucial for our young leaders studying in the classroom. Emerging technologies being built for advanced 5G networks have the potential to introduce new services that engage students in a whole new way. This includes everything from augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) tools for immersive learning to online platforms that can help expand access to affordable, higher education opportunities.
Businesses and entrepreneurs in our communities also stand to benefit from the growth and availability of 5G services. Today, Asian Americans own nearly 2 million businesses in the United States, and those businesses employ nearly 4 million people. With 95% of our English-speaking Asian American and Pacific Islander communities online, we understand the value of technology. Our communities are at the forefront of technology adoption and business innovation.
The ILF is already leading way in innovation, fostering the young leaders of our community by providing resources and access to unparalleled opportunities. If 5G can spur advances that help them start new businesses and attain new educational opportunities, imagine the potential it has to unleash a whole new wave innovation across the country.
Empowering our communities is central to the mission of ILF. The appearance and expansion of connectivity in the form of 5G could not come at a better time. The effects of 5G will capitalize on our already highly connected community and further propel us to the forefront of business and innovation.
Earlier this month, WarnerMedia, along with the Brookings Institution and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, hosted a screening of Warner Bros. Pictures’ Just Mercy at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The film tells the true story of an attorney’s fight to defend a man wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
Both the attorney Bryan Stevenson, played by Michael B. Jordan, and the defendant Walter McMillian, played by Jamie Foxx, are black and young. No solid evidence is presented in the case pointing to McMillian as the murderer, but false accusations, political animus and implicit bias against a black man are enough to send McMillian to death row.
The movie is based on Stevenson’s memoir of the same name that traces his work as founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. The EJI provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons.
Prior to the screening of the movie, the evening’s program included remarks by the Reverend Al Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network; Glenn Hutchins, co-chair of the Brookings Board of Trustees, AT&T board member and founder of the Hutchins Center at Harvard; and Andrew Reinsdorf, senior vice president of government relations at WarnerMedia.
In a pre-curtain conversation between Stevenson and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, Stevenson said he hoped the movie will help change the narrative of the country.
“We’re going to have to change the narrative,” he said. “That’s why it’s so painful when unarmed black people are shot by the police. That’s why it’s so painful when you hit those glass ceilings. The great challenge of our day is actually confronting this history, acknowledging this history that has primed us to see people through this lens in a way that is very destructive…I don’t think we did anywhere what we needed to do at the end of the Civil War. We didn’t do it when we confronted, finally, lynching. We didn’t do it when we passed the Civil Rights laws. It’s what we have to do now if we’re going to actually make this progress…this journey to freedom real.”
Just Mercy may already have helped start that change as it marks WarnerMedia’s new diversity policy that was implemented to ensure that the studio’s projects are truly inclusive, Hutchins told the audience.
“You should understand this film in the context of WarnerMedia’s broad diversity and inclusion policy which was crafted in collaboration with Michael B. Jordan, who in addition to starring in the movie is an executive producer of it,” he said. “The policy which has been implemented, not just on the productions for Warner Bros. but also across HBO and Turner, ensures that all creative endeavors will go the extra mile to consider diversity and inclusion goals for staffing positions both behind and in front of the camera.”
The importance of criminal justice reform was seen just over a year ago when the bipartisan First Step Act was signed into law. This was indeed an important first step, but, as Just Mercy makes clear, the larger dialog has been sorely lacking, and that has real-world consequences. Bryan Stevenson was able to save Walter McMillian from execution, but not everyone is lucky enough to have someone like Mr. Stevenson on their side. It’s time we take that “luck” out of the criminal justice system and make the safeguards for justice included in the Bill of Rights work for all Americans, no matter where they live or what color their skin. That would bring a just mercy for all Americans.
-By Tanya Lombard, AT&T Vice President of Multicultural Engagement
The proliferation of smartphones and other connected devices has radically transformed the world around us. According to a recent Pew Research survey, 45% of U.S. adults under the age of 30 are “almost constantly” online – a phenomenon our community is all too familiar with; Asian Americans are not only the fastest-growing ethnic or racial group in the U.S., but we’re also the leading internet users. Asian Americans are uniquely poised to take advantage of the tremendous long-term social and economic benefits of internet access. Yet, without a national privacy law in place, our digital information remains that much more exposed to potential misuse and abuse.
The relative ease and frequency with which we can get online offers daily conveniences and near-immediate access to applications, services, and vast troves of information. A remarkable 97% of Asian American households now have smartphones and 89% have computers, according to a new Nielsen survey. Asian Americans are using this connectivity to make their presence felt online, making online purchases at a 34% higher rate than the U.S. average, for example. While Americans in general, and Asian Americans especially, are attached to the internet as never before, this has raised a serious problem, especially for younger Americans who tend to spend more time online.
Our trail of digital data, including websites we visit and apps we use, is being used by companies operating across the internet ecosystem to track and shape consumers’ online and offline behavior. Younger Americans are among the most connected both within and outside of our community, which means they face a unique risk with respect to how their data can be potentially misused.
Our outdated privacy rules are not up to the task of protecting us spyware, website trackers, emerging technologies like facial recognition, or from people and companies who see a way to profit from recording what consumers do online. A uniform Federal standard that applies to all internet companies and its corresponding privacy protections will make the internet a safer place, especially for younger Americans who will be tomorrow’s leaders.
This single standard should apply to all internet companies regardless of their location or business model. At its core, a national privacy law should also codify key principles that will empower and protect consumers: transparency, security and consumer control. If any operator on the internet wants to access our “digital footprint,” consumers deserve to be notified. We should be told in advance what information is going to be collected, how it will be used and whether it will be shared or sold. Lastly, we should have the ability to opt out if we choose and to know how our data is protected.
Americans deserve a Federal online privacy standard based on these commonsense provisions. As that recent Nielsen report observed, “Asian Americans are adept users of emerging technology.” This gives our community a major stake in protecting our online privacy. We must tell Congress that we deserve better privacy protections and urge them to pass a bipartisan, comprehensive solution. The next generation of Americans is counting on Congress—and us—to take swift action to lay the foundation for a more safe and secure internet experience.
"Congress should give Internet users what they most need" -ILF on today's Court decision on FCC Internet Rules
The International Leadership Foundation's Interim Director Zhu Xiao Di issued the following statement concerning today’s DC Circuit Court decision on FCC rules governing the Internet:
“The Internet is vital to our civic involvement, which is why Federal policy must encourage access to an open and transparent Internet. Today’s court decision is a reminder that judges and regulators are stuck using outdated laws to make decisions affecting how we use the Internet. The result is an expensive drag on improving the Internet’s openness and this is why Congress should modernize Federal Internet law this year.
“Given today’s crisis of internet trust, Congress should give users what they most need: a uniform set of rules that protects online openness that applies equally to every Internet company, including service providers and technology companies.”
The International Leadership Foundation (ILF) is a non-profit organization that promotes the civic awareness, public involvement and economic effectiveness of the Asian Pacific American (APA) community. Our mission is to develop young leaders in the United States in the fields of public service, entrepreneurship and the international arena through a network of business and community leaders, and to expose emerging leaders in other Pacific Rim countries to the American perspective in business, education and policy.