BREWER, Maine — Brewer High School seniors Devon Fisher and Jasmine Coulter — both members of the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program — said Monday the program has helped them graduate and prepare for their lives after high school.
Jobs for Maine’s Graduates teacher Sarah White played a crucial role, they said.
“It was her constant nagging that motivated me,” Coulter said, drawing a laugh at a press conference at which the AT&T Foundation announced it would invest $250 million nationwide in programs such as Jobs for Maine Grads that help boost high school graduation rates.
“It’s good to know there is a teacher who is willing to help and is willing to do everything they can to help their students succeed,” said Coulter, who is president of Brewer High’s Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program.
“She’s stubborn,” Fisher, sitting in the back of the classroom, said of White. Because she pushed him to apply, he added, “I’ll be the first person in my family to go to college.”
The two local students are part of a group of more than 4,300 Mainers who have benefited from the program thanks to beneficiaries such as AT&T, which in 2008 provided $1 million — $300,000 of which went to Maine — to Jobs for Maine’s Graduates through its Aspire Program.
“That support means more Maine students will have access” to the program, said Julie Poulin of Jobs for Maine’s Graduates.
Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, a statewide, private, nonprofit organization, serves middle school and high school students who face challenges to graduation and reaching their fullest potential.
“JMG was exactly the type of program AT&T wanted” as a partner, said Owen Smith, regional vice president of AT&T in Maine. “It’s perfect.”
The new $250 million in funding from AT&T is a five-year financial commitment to the Aspire Program, which benefits a number of organizations and institutions that help high school students graduate. The emphasis of the new round of funding is to use technology to connect with students in new and effective ways.
“We hope organizations across Maine, including Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, will apply for this new round of funding,” Smith said.
Groups and organizations have until April 27 to apply for the funding, which they can do online at att.com/education-news.
The Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program was brought to Brewer seven years ago by Superintendent Daniel Lee, who is now is a Jobs for Maine’s Graduates board member and sat in the front row at Monday’s press conference. The program started at the middle school and has been a part of Brewer High School for the last five years. White has been the teacher for three years.
“I just think it’s amazing what it has done for kids,” Principal Becky Bubar said after the gathering.