AT&T helps underwrite foster children’s educational future
Seizing the initiative to be a socially responsible corporate neighbor AT& T donated a $25,000 check to the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Imperial County on Friday at its branch location in the Plaza @ Imperial Valley.
The bequest was part of AT&T’s “Aspire” initiative designed to keep children in school, create a pathway to higher education or smooth the transition to a gainful workforce endeavor, noted Christine Moore, AT&T’s director of external affairs. “It was another opportunity to fund one more of our many worthy causes,” said Moore. “For foster children it’s easy to get lost in a crowd, but CASA makes foster kids matter.”
CASA aims to improve academic promotion rates and high school graduation rates in grades nine through 12, said Alex Cardenas, executive director of CASA. A court appointed advocate’s responsibility is to serve as a mentor to assure foster youths remain in school while in foster care. The average foster care youth typically transfers to three different schools in one year, noted Cardenas.
“AT&T always had a strong social responsibility and our paths (Moore) crossed so she afforded me the opportunity to share the needs of our project,” said Cardenas. “The AT&T Foundation focus is at-risk youth, so it aligns well with our mission — providing children a voice in court from a community perspective so they are not left fending for themselves.”
Government provides valuable services such as public education, housing and safety but it cannot give love, noted California State Sen. Ben Hueso. Still, foster youths are vulnerable to violence and sometimes tempted by gangs. If resources can be directed toward them they can avoid risky behavior and evade the innocent destruction of families that can be prevented by supporting programs like AT&T’s, he remarked.
Unfortunately, foster youths can find themselves in difficult situations, said Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia. But with AT&T’s generosity they can experience stability and ultimately repair and bring families together, he added.
Juan Ulloa, juvenile and family law presiding judge of the California Superior Court, thanked Cardenas for the partnership he has built with the court and CASA as it flourished over the years. CASA advocates have the best interests of children in court, school and family, he noted.
“We’re all better off for it,” said Ulloa. “CASA is on the cutting edge with 97 percent of children having CASA supervision. It’s all due to Alex and his staff.”
El Centro Mayor Jason Jackson thanked Cardenas and Ulloa for pioneering the way. “AT&T has always stepped up to the plate,” said Jackson. “I don’t know a better corporate partner.”
Cardenas thanked AT&T for their remarkable support. “The key we found to reduce recidivism among foster youth was recreation and education,” he said. “CASA is doing tremendous cutting-edge work.”
FROM LEFT: Alex Martinez, AT&T store manager; Christine Moore, AT&T director of external affairs; Alex Cardenas, executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Imperial County, El Centro Mayor Jason Jackson; and Julio Figeuroa, AT&T associate of external affairs, celebrate an AT&T donation of $25,000 to CASA aimed at foster youths on Friday at Imperial Valley Plaza in El Centro.