The AT&T Rising Future Makers Showcase is a program that honors a distinguished group of students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who are actively influencing and giving back to their communities and campuses. Over the past 3 years, 75 HBCU students from 24 institutions nationwide have participated in the program. Since the program’s inception in 2021, AT&T has opened a contest annually calling for submissions from HBCU students nationwide to show how they’re changemakers within their communities. AT&T prioritizes amplifying historically underrepresented voices and equipping upcoming generations for success. Most recently, in 2023, the AT&T Rising Future Makers Showcase refreshed the program to connect a new cohort of HBCU students to greater possibilities as an extension of their brand purpose, "Connecting Changes Everything.”
The AT&T Rising Future Makers Showcase opened on September 1st and was live through November 6th, a window during which AT&T utilized a variety of tactics to reach HBCU students across the country. To support the contest launch, AT&T rolled out a custom media campaign across platforms such as Essence, The Grio, and iOne Solutions, engaging audiences with targeted ads and short-form content. AT&T also enlisted prominent influencers within the HBCU community like Lance Gross, Blake Newby, and Michael Rainey JR to help spread the word. The Rising Future Makers Showcase was strategically designed to reach its homestretch right around the same time as HBCU Homecoming season reaches its peak, allowing for the opportunity for multiple IRL touchpoints with students, supplementing the digital presence.
Leveraging its sponsorships with three HBCU athletic programs (Howard, NC A&T, and FAMU), AT&T was able to bring The Rising Future Makers Dream Shop to life across those respective campuses during homecoming season, transporting HBCU students and fans to the shop of their dreams, elevating the homecoming energy through HBCU pride-themed giveaways, and a photo customization station – all while inspiring and driving contest submissions. AT&T also partnered with The Shop Uninterrupted to enhance awareness, integrating within their HBCU Tour which rolled through two additional HBCU Campuses (Tennessee State and Hampton).
Upon the conclusion of the submission window, AT&T recorded a record 1,001 submissions from HBCU students, which was a 143% increase from 2022. Consistent with years past, AT&T ultimately selected 25 standout students from the submission pool, effectively honoring those students as the new AT&T Rising Future Makers Class of 2023. As part of the prizing, each student received $5,000 presented by AT&T 5G, a 5G-enabled tablet with one year of AT&T service, and other gifts to support their dreams and ambitions.
For the first year in the program’s history, the Rising Future Makers Showcase culminated with a winner’s event at the AT&T Headquarters in Dallas, Texas, where the 25 students officially kicked off their journey as Rising Future Makers, taking part in celebratory programming and speaking with AT&T executives and representatives. Also new this year, AT&T implemented a device drive, benefitting Atlanta-based high school students. For every 5 Rising Future Maker Showcase applications, AT&T committed to donating a device to a high school student in need, ensuring that seniors and juniors have a device of their own to support their future.
This initiative showcases AT&T’s ongoing dedication to diverse communities through uplifting programs and support. With this year’s spike in submissions, AT&T donated 200 laptops to high school students in need, reinforcing its commitment to help bridge the digital divide and remove barriers to affordability, access, and adoption of tech.