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AT&T awards $25K to support Steps to College initiative
UNG press release pic
Representatives from AT&T present the University of North Georgia with a $25,000 grant to help first generation non-English native speaking students receive academic enrichment support that will help them to succeed in high school and beyond. - photo by For the Dawson County News

AT&T is helping the University of North Georgia (UNG) make a difference in the lives of more than 115 area high school students for whom English is not their primary language.

Through a $25,000 grant, the company will help ensure that first generation non-English native speaking students receive academic enrichment support that will help them to succeed in high school and beyond.

Now entering its 20th year, Steps to College (S2C) is a summer for-credit program designed to meet the unique needs of bilingual or multilingual area high school students who are also English learners.

“Every child has the potential to succeed and is a vital part of Georgia’s future,” said state Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega). “I am so proud of UNG and the administrators, teachers and volunteers who are doing so much to ensure that these students are not left behind but are prepared to pursue and accomplish their dreams.”

“For all students, and especially for students who aspire to significant academic achievement, English proficiency is a significant milestone,” said Jeff Tarnowski, vice president for university advancement at UNG. “The S2C program was developed to both help students stay on track for high school graduation, but to also introduce these students to the university educational environments and to support them in considering options available to them. We appreciate the support of the community and of leaders like Senator Gooch in making a lasting difference for these students and their families.”

Participating school systems, which provide transportation for students, include Gainesville City school system and the Hall, Forsyth, Habersham, Stephens and Banks county school systems. Classes are held on the UNG Gainesville Campus as well as the Cumming Campus and, according to the needs of prospective students, include courses such as American Government, science, math, language arts and ESOL. The program, which includes classroom instruction, bus transportation and lunch, is free to the students.

 “AT&T is dedicated to helping people make connections – with each other, with information and entertainment, and with opportunities for the future,” said Paul Chambers, AT&T Georgia regional director of external affairs. “We are excited about the difference the Steps 2 College program makes in the lives of its students and honored to support the great work being done by all involved.”

As part of AT&T’s support, the summer students are visiting AT&T work locations in their respective towns for additional career advice and perspective.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) is one of the largest public universities in the state with almost 20,000 students across its five campuses — Blue Ridge, Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee County. UNG is one of six senior military colleges in the United States and is designated as a University System of Georgia leadership institution and as The Military College of Georgia. It offers more than 100 programs of study including certificates, associate, bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as professional doctoral programs.