High-school drop-out rates? Environmental issues? Volunteerism? These don’t at first blush seem to be the core business of a telecom carrier, particularly in the midst of a recession. Yet AT&T Inc. is ponying up $865 million to help communities address “critical national challenges,” as it put it.
In addition to citizenship and sustainability initiatives, AT&T plans to invest $17 billion to $18 billion in 2009 capital expenditures. Approximately two-thirds of AT&T’s 2009 investment will extend and enhance AT&T’s wireless and wired broadband networks, it said.
“America’s future depends not only on the investments that companies like ours make in our people and our communities, but also on how well those investments drive us to be more competitive globally,” said Randall Stephenson, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T, in a statement. “That’s why we’re committed to investments with long-term benefits for AT&T and our country. I am proud of our employees, our programs and our progress as we continue on this journey.”
The $865 million will cover multi-year social and environmental investments. They include:
“Corporate responsibility and sustainability doesn’t evaporate in a down economy, and in fact are more critical because the country’s challenges are greater,” said Charlene Lake, senior vice president of public affairs and chief sustainability officer at the carrier. “We are committed to exploring the specific ways in which society’s needs intersect with AT&T and, while we have made significant progress, we recognize the need for continual improvement.”