T&T is honored to help America's children aspire to success.

One in four students more than 1 million students a year fails to graduate with their class. This is one of our nation's most critical problems, particularly in an era when competition for jobs among people and, indeed, among nations is becoming evermore intense.

Over the last four years, our Aspire program has worked with organizations across the country to help reverse this trend to reach the national goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020. AT&T Aspire has already impacted more than 1 million students with $100 million invested since 2008.

In our continued effort to address this critical issue, we are excited to launch a new phase of Aspire a $250 million investment planned over five years that will further build on our existing initiative to help more students graduate from high school prepared for careers and college, and to ensure our nation is better prepared for global competition.

Here in Kansas, public officials and educators have placed a premium on education, and we are delighted to have had an opportunity to play a role in their success.

With our new phase of Aspire, we'll take a "socially innovative" approach that goes beyond traditional philanthropy, engaging people and technology to create new and different solutions to social problems. The new Aspire will also leverage technology to connect with students in new and more effective ways.

But technology alone will not solve the education challenge. It takes people, too.

We plan to take our current Job Shadow program to a new level with the Aspire Mentoring Academy, a program that will provide more opportunities for our employees to work closely with students most at-risk of dropping out to help them succeed in their classrooms and in life. Some 100,000 students participated in the AT&T Job Shadow initiative with Junior Achievement to date, including nearly 900 in Kansas.

Local community organizations will be vital to the success of Aspire and our plans call for providing financial support to those groups that deliver genuine results in helping students learn. Thanks to the commitment of our employees and many Kansas organizations, our initial $100 million investment in high school success and college and career readiness has made a positive impact. The Kansas Aspire investment has amounted to more than $400,000 since 2008.

We're excited to expand our investment in this great resource our children's education with our new commitment. There's no doubt that our investment in Aspire is an investment in America's future, and, indeed, our own. At AT&T, we believe that people are the critical differentiators in our industry, especially given the lightning-fast pace of technological evolution. And Aspire helps to create a pipeline of diverse talent for all U.S. companies, including AT&T.

Our children are the key to our future. And joining together in the communities where our employees and customers live and work, we can make a difference in the lives of students and families and in our own communities and across the nation.

STEVE HAHN,

Lawrence

Hahn is president of AT&T Kansas.