AT&T may be widely known for being the provider of Apple’s iPhone, but its investment in connecting people and communities goes much further than that.

According to a recent press release, “AT&T announced the release of its 2009 Citizenship and Sustainability Report highlighting the company’s progress toward up to $865 million in multi-year commitments for important education, environmental and volunteerism programs that help strengthen communities, stimulate economic growth and ensure America’s global competitiveness. The report also showcases the company’s relentless passion for innovation — a promise to use the power of its networks to drive human progress.”

In 2009, AT&T appointed a new energy director to oversee companywide energy management efforts. In doing so, the company was able to achieve a 23.8 percent reduction in energy intensity, exceeding the 15 percent reduction in 2008. The company also deployed 970 alternative fuel vehicles to kick off their up-to-$565 million commitment to deploy more than 15,000 fuel-efficient vehicles through 2018.

In addition to making strides in environmental sustainability, AT&T also took steps toward fighting the high school dropout crisis in America. In 2009, the telecom company continued to support its Aspire program that. seeks to improve high school retention rates and prepare the next generation of U.S. workers.

By the end of 2009, AT&T reached 23,000 students in more than 200 cities through job shadowing initiatives. It also funded national research to help better understand the dropout crisis. By the end of 2009, 27,000 stakeholders in 44 states participated in 84 dropout prevention summits in 46 cities sponsored in part by AT&T and organized by America’s Promise Alliance.

AT&T employees played a crucial part in AT&T’s corporate sustainability efforts. Employees and retirees of AT&T volunteered more than 8.5 million hours in 2009 to community activities. That time is valued at more than $176 million.

The company also launched two new employee volunteer initiatives in 2009. The website AT&T Cares enables employees to discover volunteer opportunities and register to help in various areas.

The other is an online community that allows employees to create personalized Web pages to raise funds for charities of their choice. In the first three months since the site’s launch, AT&T employees raised more that $98,000 for charities through the program.