"The innovative idea of helping students obtain their drivers licenses will have a lifelong impact on their ability to work and provide for their future families."
A poll of students attending Francis Tuttle’s Project HOPE identified a key hurdle to good attendance was not having a driver’s license, which also impacted family responsibilities and limited their job prospects. With many students in this situation, career advisor Vera Cheek found a way to help.
She reached out to Francis Tuttle Foundation executive director Lori Alspaugh to determine whether funding was available to help offset student costs. Alspaugh consulted her Board of Directors knowing that AT&T’s ASPRIRE grant was intended to assist students with a defined need, and contacted Merkley’s Driving School to work through details.
Cost, transportation to, and available time for driver education were primary deterrents. The Foundation agreed to pay all costs of instruction and license fees, while Merkley’s agreed that both classroom training and initial driving practice could be conducted on campus during the student lunch period, eliminating all deterrents.
AT&T Area Manager of External Affairs and Foundation Board member Jan Moran commented, “AT&T has had a longstanding relationship with Francis Tuttle. We continually see the good work being done through the Francis Tuttle Foundation, knowing that every dollar we give helps students succeed. We believe our ASPIRE grant will benefit students in the HOPE program this year, and will set them up for success. The innovative idea of helping students obtain their drivers licenses will have a lifelong impact on their ability to work and provide for their future families. AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. We know that the Francis Tuttle Foundation aligns with our focus on addressing community needs where we live and work.”
The Foundation is supported by nearly 50 percent of Francis Tuttle employees via payroll deduction, as well as by corporate contributions. AT&T is a valued corporate sponsor of the Foundation, and has contributed more than $50,000 since 2017, including the ASPIRE grant, which was intended specifically to help HOPE students overcome obstacles.
Project HOPE is a highly-successful dropout prevention and recovery program that helps high school students earn a diploma, and professional career skills, preparing them for successful employment or pursuit of further education.