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AT&T Helps Long Island Youth Rethink Possibilites

AT&T is helping several young Long Islanders look to the future and “Rethink Possibilities” through United Way of Long Island’s YouthBuild program, a youth-based initiative that addresses education and financial insecurities in low-income communities. Town of Babylon Councilman Tony Martinez joined AT&T to present United Way of Long Island’s YouthBuild program with a $5,000 contribution, which benefitted their “Mental Toughness” program, a week-long educational training program that removes students from their home environments and places them in military-like training to reshape their futures. Each student enters the program with a different story, but all hope for a similar result as that of student, Anthony Royster, expecting that, “This will build my character and help me think more about my future and career paths.”

“AT&T is proud to support the United Way of Long Island’s mission and its YouthBuild program to provide leadership and workforce development training to some of Long Island’s most promising, but sometimes vulnerable, students,” said Marissa Shorenstein, president of AT&T New York.

Spending a week at Camp De Wolfe in Wading River, New York this past September, United Way of Long Island’s YouthBuild Class of 2016 endured long nights completing self-reflective homework and early wake-up calls to take on drill training, team-building activities, and problem-solving exercises. One requirement of the program calls for the students to abandon all modern technologies for the week. Handing over their cellphones was akin to cutting off their lifelines to many of the students. As the week progressed, students like Christopher Jenkins realized that the removal of outside interruptions helped to, “drown out all distractions and zone in on what needs to be done.”

Communication is often key, as student Jose Diaz soon came to realize during one team-building event, “The ‘human knot’ was not organized because no one was listening to one another…we need to learn to communicate better to solve a problem.” Once the students emerge from their tangles and complete Mental Toughness, they take their fresh outlooks and new skills to the YouthBuild classroom where they spend ten months continuing to break down the walls that they’ve put up and build brighter futures. Over the course of the program, students will work toward earning their TASC/GED diplomas, build a house from the ground up and earn credentials in green construction, healthcare and other career field choices. Each career pathway offers opportunities for advancement for the employee, as well as quality a workforce for employers. Along their journeys, the students receive counseling and assistance with their job search and placement.

Theresa A. Regnante, President and CEO of United Way of Long Island said of AT&T’s contribution, “YouthBuild’s Mental Toughness is critical to the success of each student as they continue through the YouthBuild program. AT&T’s contribution to the Mental Toughness program has helped the students lay a foundation for their future successes.”

The support for the United Way of Long Island and its YouthBuild program is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s $350 million commitment to education. With more than 1 million students impacted since its launch in 2008, AT&T Aspire is one of the nation’s largest corporate commitments focused on helping more students graduate from high school ready for college and careers. The support also complements AT&T’s $300,000 contribution to support the YouthBuild USA’s national Postsecondary Pathways Initiative which increases opportunities for low-income youth by preparing them for college or helping them build workforce readiness skills.

For more information about YouthBuild Long Island and their Mental Toughness program, please visit http://www.unitedwayli.org/income/aboutyouthbuild.

High Resolution Photo Available

Pictured Above From Left: Tony Martinez, Town of Babylon Councilman; Theresa A. Regnante, President & CEO of United Way of Long Island; Kya Kearney, North Babylon; Rashaleek Walker, Wyandanch; Sasha Carrion, Brentwood; Herik Ramires, Bay Shore; Eboni Hazzard, Brentwood; Donte Prince, Wyandanch; Jose Diaz, Bay Shore; Brandon V. Ray, Regional Director of AT&T External Affairs-Long Island

About United Way of Long Island

United Way of Long Island advances the common good, creating opportunities for a better life for all by focusing on the three key building blocks of education, financial stability and health. We recruit people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become part of the change. United Way of Long Island is part of a worldwide network spanning across 41 countries and territories, including more than 1,200 local organizations in the U.S. For more information about United Way of Long Island, please visit www.UnitedWayLI.org, Facebook United Way of Long Island or Twitter @unitedwayli.

About YouthBuild Long Island

YouthBuild Long Island, a program of United Way of Long Island, is a youth and community development program, addressing core issues facing low-income communities: housing, education, employment, crime prevention, and leadership development. At YouthBuild, low-income young men, women and veterans, ages 18 - 24, work towards their TASC diploma while learning hands-on job skills. ###