BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
The path to graduation for Queens students just got clearer.
In an effort to address low graduation rates among the Borough’s high schoolers, AT&T has awarded $800,000 in grants to three Queens organizations supporting underserved students, through its Aspire education initiative.
The YMCA Y-Scholars program, the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation and the ASPIRA Association joined 30 nationwide recipients that will share almost $12.5 million from the corporation.
Representatives from these organizations and AT&T joined elected officials and local students in announcing the grant awards at Flushing High School, which benefits from both ASPIRA and SASF programming.
Borough President Melinda Katz said that the grant represents a leg-up in the college admissions process for Queens students.
“We are competing with kids from all around the world when it comes to college,” Katz said. “It is important that we get every single opportunity we need as students of the New York City public school system.”
SASF and Y-Scholars were both receiving AT&T Aspire grants for the second time. SASF CEO Jim O’Neill said he was glad for the renewal because the first grant was an “amazing” success.
According to O’Neill, more than 90 percent of freshman who participated in SASF at Flushing High School moved on to the tenth grade, compared to about 60 percent of students who did not participate.
College Point resident and high school junior Priscilla Gilbert said her father signed her up for SASF when she was a freshman to improve her grades, and that by the end of the year, her average had jumped into the 80s.
“I was really happy,” Gilbert said. “I also want to become a doctor when I get older, so the fact that I’m part of this program, it also helps me progress.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, email@example.com or @JNStrawbridge.