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AT&T's Education Initiative

Science Explorers is a new, innovative program that is bringing a master template of driving more STEM into our schools and programs.”

Tricia Conway
Director of external affairs at AT&T Illinois

Historically strong, AT&T’s partnership with Northwestern University has recently expanded to include a stronger recruiting focus and support for K–12 STEM outreach.


AT&T generously endowed three professorships at Northwestern in the 1980s and early 1990s that continue to support valuable new research and scholarship:
  • The AT&T Chair in Information Technology (McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science)
  • The AT&T Research Professorship (rotates between McCormick and the School of Communication)
  • The AT&T Junior Faculty Fund (Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences).

Image of a young woman in the Science in Society program working in a lab.

Today, 80 percent of AT&T’s current philanthropy is focused on promoting STEM education and reducing drop-out rates, opening up new avenues for partnership.

In 2014, the AT&T Foundation announced an ASPIRE grant of nearly $400,000 to support the planning and implementation of the Science Explorers program, a new mentor-based STEM initiative for rising first-year high school students in Chicago Public Schools, administered by Science in Society, Northwestern’s research center dedicated to science education and public engagement.

Science Explorers addresses an important gap in college access. At-risk kids who enjoy science often struggle to keep up with the volume of classwork. Attendance issues, increased work demands, and changes in social circles contribute to students’ GPA averages dropping sometimes as much as a full letter grade.

The solution is a mentor-based program to not only cover science class materials, but also counsel at-risk high school students and help them develop their non-cognitive skills.

Student Engagement

In recognition to the importance of recruiting new talent, Northwestern is a member of AT&T’s exclusive Client Executive (ACE) program. Susan Johnson, WCAS ’87, and senior vice president of global supply chain at AT&T, serves as Northwestern’s dedicated university relations ambassador, focused on building and nurturing relationships across the University and building AT&T’s brand on campus.

Susan has made multiple visits to the University, attending campus events and speaking with students, staff, and faculty, including a well-received talk in the fall of 2015 detailing her own rise through the ranks at AT&T and the values of mentorship.

AT&T recruits from across the University through Northwestern Career Advancement, but places special focus on employing students from McCormick and Kellogg. At Kellogg, AT&T has hired students directly into its prized Leadership Development program, during which individuals familiarize themselves with various areas of business at AT&T and interact heavily with the senior leadership team.

Apart from recruiting, AT&T has supported several student activities on campus, including:

  • WildHacks – Northwestern’s annual hackathon where teams of students create mobile applications, websites, and more
  • Kellogg Innovation Network – a catalyst that brings the best innovators from around the world together to share ideas in unique forums
  • Dance Marathon - one of largest entirely student-run philanthropies in the nation; over 1,000 students each year spend 30 hours dancing to raise money for local charities

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