More than one in three students at risk of not graduating from high school grow up without an adult mentor in their life. This sobering fact is one of the reasons behind AT&T Aspire, a $350 million investment in education that brings together AT&T employees, nonprofits and community members to help equip students with the skills they need to lead the digital, global economy.

Since 2008, AT&T Aspire has impacted more than one million U.S. high school students and logged more than 510 thousand mentor hours in 240 cities. This video provides a first-hand glimpse of that impact, profiling some of the work done by Communities In Schools, the nation's largest dropout prevention organization.

“Coming into high school, I was from a single-parent home. Low socio-economic status, I was going to go middle of the road or I was going to go by the wayside,” said Cory Bennett, CIS program alumnus.

During his sophomore year, Bennett met Keith Cartwright, a site coordinator for Communities In Schools.

“What I saw in Cory when I first started directing him was like a diamond [in] a piece of coal,” Cartwright said. “It just needed to be polished out.”

Cartwright’s impression turned out to be on the money. Once “polished,” Bennett became the student of the year his senior year. Not only that, he followed in his mentor's path and is now a site coordinator for Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg in North Carolina.

“I see that longevity of what we do,” Bennett said. “When you see a young person go over and beyond to start asking some new questions and changing their mindset, those moments are really the ones that you work for.”

Communities In Schools president Dan Cardinali stressed the importance of having AT&T as a supporter.

“By investing in us they confer enormous value on the work we're doing,” Cardinali said. “They have accelerated our ability to be effective by giving us substantial financial resources, $17 million since 2008. And they invest their people, populating our boards and in school with kids. They've been phenomenal.”

Learn more about how to get involved with Communities In Schools at

For more information on AT&T Aspire, visit