DALLAS (Apr. 2, 2009) – Stating that “despite challenging times, we must continue to invest in our youth,” Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and AT&T kicked off the second year of the Mayor’s Intern Fellows program by challenging Dallas business to double the number of summer internships offered to qualified Dallas ISD students.  Last summer, 90 Dallas ISD students participated in

full-time, eight-week paid internships at 43 top companies and institutions.  The Mayor’s 2009 goal is for 100 Dallas companies to provide 200 summer internships.

“The Mayor’s Intern Fellows program is much more than just a summer job,” said Mayor Leppert.  “It gives Dallas ISD students invaluable exposure and immersion into a professional workplace environment.  It helps students make the connection between a good education and a great career, a critical point so that teenagers understand the long-range importance of good grades, attendance, perseverance and graduating.”

Mayor Leppert was joined today by lead partner AT&T (NYSE:T) along with Education Is Freedom (EIF), who will administer the program.  EIF is a non-profit organization working to reduce the high school dropout rate; eliminate the social, academic and financial barriers to higher education; and promote equality of opportunity in college attendance.

“Education is extremely important to all of us at AT&T,” said Bill Blase, senior executive vice president of human resources at AT&T, lead partner for the Fellows program. “We’re very enthusiastic about supporting this program, which complements our own Foundation projects that commit both financial resources and employee personal time to help students better prepare for the workforce. “?

Also attending the announcement at North Dallas High School were Dallas ISD Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa, students who participated in the 2008 Intern Fellows program, and other businesses partners.

Students will be paid a competitive wage of at least $9 per hour for a minimum of $2,880 over the eight-week period, which runs from June 15 to August 7.  Later this month at a Job Fair, participating employers will evaluate résumés, directly interview students and select interns based off of a very competitive selection process

A company then provides a basic office job for four days of the week so the student can learn and develop basic skill sets and disciplines. Companies are encouraged to be creative with the

fifth day, offering job shadowing of a CEO, one-on-one time with senior managers, exploring other aspects of the industry or firm, developing educational roadmaps for the students, and so on.

“The Mayor’s Intern Fellows program is a remarkable opportunity for Dallas ISD students to be introduced to and get excited about all kinds of career options, to meet successful men and women who came from backgrounds similar to theirs, and most importantly, to realize that they can succeed at top jobs, with the right education,” said Dr. Hinojosa.  “We appreciate Mayor Leppert, AT&T and the Dallas business community for providing these life-changing and enriching opportunities to our students.”

To participate, students must be enrolled in either the Education is Freedom program, which is offered at W.H. Adamson, James Madison and North Dallas High Schools or Senator Royce West’s “It’s About Our Community” program, offered at David W. Carter High School.  They must be an upcoming junior or senior, maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, have a solid attendance and disciplinary record, and participate in required training.  Eligible students will have already

demonstrated a commitment to academics and higher education.

“We’ve been working with our EIF students since their freshman year to develop the skills, discipline, demeanor and mindset so they can succeed in college and ultimately in the work force, but this experience crystallizes the need for them to get a good education,” said Dr. Marcus Martin, president and CEO of Education is Freedom.  “Our students now have concrete aspirations and a new confidence knowing that, with hard work and perseverance, there is a place for them in the business world.”

Dr. Marcus Martin added that first-year employers expressed “high satisfaction” with the high school interns.  Approximately 72% of employers ranked intern performance as commendable or exceptional, and several companies were so happy that they invited interns to return this summer.  Some have even been asked to work additional hours during school holidays.

Throughout the summer, the Fellows will outline progress of their internship with a written or multimedia project. This will include analysis of the job, the company and industry, and how the has shaped their educational and career choices.

The company requirements also include assisting with the student’s transportation costs (DART fare, etc.), providing a basic job with clearly defined expectations and skills needed for a corporate position; and providing corporate mentors to constructively support students to learn basic office and business skills and to constructively assist the Fellows through any challenges

along the way (i.e. office skills, appropriate dress).

Companies wanting to support the initiative — but who are not in positions to provide internships — can donate the cost of one or more internships, and an internship will be created with a nonprofit  organization or with the City of Dallas.

For more information about the Mayor’s Intern Fellows program, please contact Margaret Suarez, Community Relations Liaison at Education is Freedom, at 214-306-6706 or msuarez@educationisfreedom.org.

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