AT&T contributes $30,000 to UNC Pembroke to support scholarships, CARE center

John Lyon and Chancellor Cummings

Education has been a priority of AT&T for more than a century.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke is on the receiving end of AT&T’s latest philanthropic support of higher education.

AT&T – the world’s largest telecommunications company – is contributing $30,000 to provide scholarships for UNCP students beginning fall 2018.

A portion of the gift – $5,000 – will be used to support the university’s CARE Resource Center, an on-campus resource for students in need of food, clothing and housing assistance.

“At AT&T, we see supporting education as investing in the future, for a well-educated workforce may be the single most important thing businesses can do to help North Carolina succeed in a digital, global economy,” said John Lyon, regional director of external affairs for AT&T North Carolina.

“UNC Pembroke is not only helping students pursue their dreams and prepare for the future, but it is making a difference in lives today through the CARE Resource Center. We appreciate the opportunity to support those efforts.”

Lyon took part in a check presentation ceremony on campus on December 1.

“UNC Pembroke is grateful for AT&T’s investment in our students,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “The company’s generosity — a model for corporate philanthropy — will advance our shared commitment of driving economic development and positive change in southeastern North Carolina.

“We are fortunate to have such a strong partner in AT&T. Their top executives have shown genuine interest in our university, taking the time to understand our unique needs and how they can advance our mission.” 

The funds will provide up to 25 need and/or merit-based scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,500.

Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, AT&T Inc. is a multinational conglomerate holding company and is one of the nation’s leading investors in networks, communities, people, and jobs. 

Cummings and members of his senior staff recently visited the AT&T Forum for Technology, Entertainment and Policy in Washington D.C. The center, which opened in January, brings together technology experts, policymakers, and organizations to collaborate on ways to continue to promote investment and innovation.

The UNCP delegation also toured the AT&T Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy on the campus of George Washington University. The center’s purpose is to research issues, assist and provide support to tribal leaders, and promote public awareness on issues of national political significance to Indigenous communities, including public health, adequate housing, economic security and education.

Cummings and his staff were joined on the trip by Venessa Harrison, president of AT&T North Carolina, and Tom Brooks, vice president of external affairs and legislative affairs at AT&T.

AT&T is also partnering with the university in its effort to end hunger and homelessness for UNCP students.

The CARE Resource Center includes a campus pantry and a professional clothing closet which is available to students twice per month. The Center is part of UNC Pembroke’s commitment to supporting students in their education both in and out of the classroom. 

Natural Breeden, a graduate student, found herself in need as an undergraduate.

“Although I may have been hesitant at first, eventually my pride left because I knew what I needed. A lot of our students who maybe struggling with basic needs or food insecurities are too shameful to ask for help,” Breeden said.

“But once they visit the center and get to know the friendly staff, they are encouraged to come back.”

Breeden now works as the manager of the center.

UNCP is addressing student homelessness through a partnership with a local community-based group to provide an emergency shelter for students. This facility can house up to four students at one time, and is located within walking distance to campus.

Students in need of emergency shelter can stay at the facility for a maximum of six weeks. For the duration of the stay, they meet with UNCP staff and student mentors to identify secure and stable housing options.

“This funding will be used to support our efforts to alleviate hunger and address homelessness on campus. The CARE Resource Center is supported solely by donations and contributions from partners like AT&T,” said Christie Poteet, director of the Office for Community and Civic Engagement.

“Without their support, it would be difficult for us to address the needs of students in this way. We are very thankful for the continued investment in our program, students, and campus, as it makes it a little easier for students to be successful.” 

The Center – which is primarily managed by student workers and volunteers – prepares boxes of food, toys, hygiene products and clothing during Thanksgiving and Christmas to support community agencies.

The Center also served the campus and the community in the wake of Hurricane Matthew as a collection and distribution point. Poteet’s Office for Community and Civic Engagement also organized volunteers in the months after the storm.

The CARE Resource Center also recently received a $100,000 endowment and a $10,000 gift from Sally Thomas, wife of UNCP Trustee Jim Thomas, to support the center’s operation.