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Donation Creates Mentor Program for McDowell Co. Students

Ashton Marra
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A telecommunications firm announced a hefty donation Wednesday to a program designed to improve the educational opportunities for students in one of the poorest counties in the state.

AT&T announced a contribution of $300,000 over the next three years to Reconnecting McDowell, a program of more than 125 partners working to improve the quality of life and education in the southern West Virginia county.

The Aspire program will match 20 high school juniors, chosen by their principals, with mentors from around the state and also take them on tours of the state capitol, colleges, apprenticeship programs and to Washington, D.C., to expose them to the possible career options.

Emily Hicks goes to Mount View High School in Welch and said she’s thankful for the opportunities the program has given her.

“Everybody has tried their best, everybody has actually listened to us and we don’t get that a lot,” Hicks said during a press conference at the Capitol.

“People have come from where we’ve come from, they’ve gone and made a big difference and I hope to do that because as I told them the other day explaining myself, I’m bigger than my hometown.”

Reconnecting McDowell chair, and president of the state Board of Education, Gayle Manchin said the Aspire program will fit perfectly with the overall goal of Reconnecting McDowell- to give young people positive choices and opportunities to allow them to achieve.

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