AT&T Foundation gift extends reach of Auburn University program for at-risk high school students

AT&T Foundation gift extends reach of Auburn University program for at-risk high school studentsA $200,000 gift from the AT&T Foundation will help Auburn University’s Truman Pierce Institute expand its efforts to reduce the dropout rate in Alabama high schools.

The Truman Pierce Institute, an outreach center of Auburn’s College of Education, launched the “Building Individual Capacity for Success,” program in 2008 with the help of an initial $400,000 gift from the AT&T Aspire program. AT&T representatives presented a $200,000 supplemental gift on Tuesday, when Truman Pierce Institute faculty shared results of the BICS program’s first four years.

“We are very grateful to the AT&T Foundation for its continued support of the Building Individual Capacity for Success program,” said Cynthia Reed, Truman Pierce Institute director and the Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Professor of Educational Leadership in the College of Education. “The BICS program was designed to empower student participants to develop their capacity for success in high school and beyond. Based on the evidence collected throughout the last four years, we know that this is happening in most cases.”

The BICS program provides mentorship, leadership training and service learning opportunities for 50 at-risk students each year and helps them make the transition from middle school to high school. The Truman Pierce Institute implemented the program at schools in Lee, Hale, Bullock and Tallapoosa county schools. In a study of high school students from 2006 to 2007, the Southern Educational Foundation labeled Alabama’s 39 percent dropout rate as the state’s primary educational and economic obstacle.

AT&T Foundation gift extends reach of Auburn University program for at-risk high school studentsThe Truman Pierce Institute reported that 89 percent of the BICS program participants remain on course for graduation. In addition to helping students improve their grade point averages, the program also aims to improve attendance and reduce disciplinary referrals. Now in its fourth year, the BICS program features a combined cohort of 116 students in grades 10-12 at five schools. Advisors, who include teacher leaders, assistant principals and coaches, help coordinate programming and provide mentorship to students.

The Truman Pierce Institute is one of 47 organizations nationwide that will share in nearly $10 million from AT&T. With more than one million students impacted since its launch in 2008, the AT&T Aspire program is one of the largest corporate commitments focused on helping more students graduate from high school ready for college and careers.

Reed said the $200,000 supplement will help the Truman Pierce Institute expand its programming to help partner schools address the needs of even more students. The AT&T Aspire program identified the BICS program as making a difference in multiple communities by supporting and motivating traditionally underserved students.

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Written by Troy Johnson.

Contact: Troy Johnson, College of Education, (334) 844-4468, (,
Michael Tullier, Office of Development, (334) 844-8907, (,
or Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999, (