AT&T Foundation's $130,000 donation to fund industry certification exams for underrepresented students

As part of AT&T’s continuing commitment to supporting quality education across Tennessee, the AT&T Foundation has donated $130,000 to the College System of Tennessee to pay for industry certification exams for community and technical college students in various Information Technology career fields.

The goal of the grant opportunity is to encourage more students from underserved or underrepresented populations to enter and succeed in IT careers.

Certified IT professionals are in high demand in virtually every business and industry sector. But the costs of industry-recognized certification exams – which can be hundreds of dollars per exam – are not paid by traditional financial aid, creating another financial hurdle for many students.

Because business and industry help set the standards covered by the certification exams, the certifications are considered by employers as demonstration of a high level of knowledge and skill. They provide students with the additional benefit of a valuable credential in the application and interview process.

“AT&T is proud to support the College System of Tennessee and the students working to gain the education necessary to compete for quality jobs across Tennessee,” said Joelle Phillips, President, AT&T Tennessee. “Through this grant, the AT&T Foundation is helping to connect students to future opportunities and giving them the tools and resources needed to achieve their academic goals.”

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings expressed the system’s gratitude for the grant. “Industry certifications create opportunities for higher pay, better job prospects and new career options. The AT&T grant will help students without the resources to pay for the exams to achieve their career goals. On a larger scale, the grant will help close socioeconomic gaps for underserved populations seeking employment in IT fields. On behalf of the Board of Regents and our students, we’re grateful to AT&T for its generosity and its vision."

The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) governs the College System of Tennessee – the state’s 13 community colleges and 24 colleges of applied technology.

Under the grant provisions, the TBR system office will serve as grant administrator. Each school term, the individual colleges will apply for these micro-grant dollars to fund certification exams for their students enrolled in IT-related programs who need the assistance. An estimated 540 students can be served.

The grants will pay for certification exams in Computer Information Technology, Computer Information Systems, Computer Operating Systems & Network Technology, Computer Support Technician, Information Technology, Information Technology & Infrastructure Management, and Information Technology Systems Management programs for eligible students enrolled in the aligned courses at the community and technical colleges.

In addition to helping their students succeed, the grant better enables the colleges to track outcomes and results.

In previous years, AT&T donations to the College System of Tennessee have funded scholarships for minority and underserved students, and purchased needed training equipment for IT-related programs of study to help our students learn the skills they need for high-demand careers.


About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T: 

AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its community initiatives, AT&T has a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; or address community needs. The company’s signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, drives innovation in education to promote student success in school and beyond. With a financial commitment of $600 million since 2008, AT&T is leveraging technology, relationships and social innovation to help all students make their biggest dreams a reality.


The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.