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$1 Million AT&T Skills Building Challenge Aims to Prepare Students for Successful Careers

For- and Non-Profit Ed-Tech Companies Tackling Career Readiness Invited to Apply


WANTED: Ed-tech startups working to close the country’s growing skills gap.

To mark the 5th anniversary of our education technology incubator, Aspire Accelerator, we’ve created the AT&T Skills Building Challenge. We’re looking for companies working directly on solutions that prepare students for future career success, including STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) fields with heightening demand.

The top 8 applicants will receive $125,000 from AT&T as part of their participation in the 6-month Accelerator program, where they’ll have access to AT&T’s senior executives and mentoring from leading minds in the education and skilling space. Applications may be submitted hereuntil Feb. 1.

“We must find innovative ways to get students the skills they need to keep up in an economy increasingly driven by technological advances such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality,” said Charlene Lake, SVP-Corporate Social Responsibility and chief sustainability officer at AT&T. “Every company, including AT&T, wants a pipeline of skilled talent coming through the door.

“Our Accelerator program has a proven track record of finding and funding the most innovative organizations in ed-tech,” Lake said. “We’re excited to do the same with ventures focused on preparing students to get and keep good jobs in the 21st century.”

More about the AT&T Skills Building Challenge offered through the Aspire Accelerator:

  • Aspire Investment – $100,000 AT&T investment and an additional $25,000 for each company to cover costs of the program. For non-profit companies, the investment will be a general contribution. They receive this in exchange for participating in the Accelerator and meeting certain requirements, including submitting impact measurements.
  • Mentorship – Access to an Entrepreneur in Residence and AT&T and external mentors from education and technology.
  • Resources – UI/UX design services and opportunities to participate in education conferences such as ISTE and ASU GSV.
  • National Platform – Inclusion in broader AT&T Aspire initiative, which is committed to driving innovation in education, skilling and career readiness.
  • Flexible Location – Organizations can participate from where they are, without relocating.

Accelerator advisors and mentors include, among others, Charles Best, founder and CEO,; Kimberly Bryant, founder, Black Girls CODE; Betsy Corcoran, co-founder and CEO, EdSurge; and Sebastian Thrun, founder and president of Udacity.

The 27 previous Accelerator participants thrived in the program, collectively reaching more than 23 million students and attracting more than $35 million in funding after graduation. Aspire Accelerator Alumni include BitsboxCogent EducationCommonLit (501(c)3), Couragion, GradGuru (501(c)3), The Graide Network, LearnPlatform, MindBlown Labs, PlayPosit, Quill (501(c)3), and TalkingPoints (501(c)3).

About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T

AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. We have a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities, promote academic and economic achievement, and address community needs. Our AT&T Aspire initiative uses innovation in education to drive student success in school and beyond. With a financial commitment of $450 million since 2008, AT&T is leveraging technology, relationships and social innovation to help all students make their biggest dreams a reality.

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