AT&T is contributing $1 million to a Boyle Heights-based nonprofit that helps Eastside students graduate from high school and prepare for college, the company announced last week.

The communication giant’s donation to Proyecto Pastoral, part of the Promesa Boyle Heights collective, will help expand the organization’s Community School Model, which provides at-risk students at local high schools with social and emotional support in an effort to increase graduation rates.

“AT&T’s investment in Promesa Boyle Heights has played a pivotal role in establishing a groundbreaking Community School Model that is raising student achievement and graduation rates in Boyle Heights,” Cynthia Sanchez, executive director of Proyecto Pastoral, said in a press release. “This increased investment supports program expansions to target high-risk students, integration of social-emotional learning, and transition supports to prepare students to navigate postsecondary systems.”

Four-year graduation rates in the Los Angeles Unified School District are 76.7% for the 2017-2018 school year, well below the state average of 87.3%, according to the California Department of Education.

The community schools program began in 2011 and serves nearly 2,450 low-income students, according to the release. Since the program’s start, graduation rates at Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School rose from to 95% from 34%, while the number of students earning a high school diploma or the equivalent at Theodore Roosevelt High School grew to 85% in 2018 from 78% in 2017.

The recent donation means that AT&T has contributed $2.35 million to Proyecto Pastoral since 2012 through its education and job training initiative, AT&T Aspire.

“We believe strongly in the importance of preparing future generations with the skills they need for success in the digital age,” Rhonda Johnson, president of AT&T California, said in the release. “We’re honored to support Proyecto Pastoral and the Promesa Boyle Heights collaborative, whose mission to give young people the support and motivation they need to stay on track for college and career success aligns with that belief.”

Community residents founded Proyecto Pastoral  in 1986, in partnership with the California Province of Jesuits. Today, the organization runs early childhood education centers in the Eastside, operates a civic education program and provides shelter to homeless residents at Dolores Mission Church.

Photo: Roosevelt High School. By Andrew Roman.

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