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AT&T, United Way team up to lower high-school dropout rate in Alachua County


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AT&T awarded a $300,000 grant to help the United Way of North Central Florida lower the high-school dropout rate in Alachua County.

The telecommunication giant introduced AT&T Aspire, a program aimed at helping students from at-risk families, Thursday at Gainesville High School. Check and Connect, the program’s major initiative, will pair specialized mentors and counselors with students and families in poverty.

The dropout rate among students living in poverty is actually lower than the average in Alachua County. But that gap has potential to grow as the state introduces a rigorous set of new educational standards. That’s where the Check and Connect program could be particularly valuable.

“Specialists will work with students that are identified by a district team for risk of dropout,” United Way of North Central Florida’s President & CEO Debbie Mason said.

Gainesville, Hawthorne and Eastside are three of the schools where the program will be implemented.

GHS principal David Shelnutt said the program is going to be absolutely vital.

Incoming ninth graders will be identified for the program based on their history of tardiness, attendance and record of grades. Shelnutt said the effect of the program is already showing.

“We’ve already had 10 families come up,” he said.

George Pappas edited this story online.




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