AT&T and The University of Texas at Tyler will provide a financial boost to a program aimed at increasing the number of highly qualified math and science teachers.

AT&T will contribute $20,000, which will be matched by UT Tyler, to the UTEACH Scholars Program, according to a university news release.

The program, which started at UT Tyler in 2010, provides math and science majors an opportunity to earn a teaching certification during their four years at the university, according to the news release. It is an effort to address the national shortage of teachers in those subject areas.

The funds will allow math and science majors to take the first two courses in each program essentially free to see if they like teaching before they actually enroll in the School of Education.

Although students will pay for the courses up front, they will be reimbursed provided they pass the courses with a C, UTEACH master teacher Donna Wise said.

A UT Austin start-up grant currently is paying for this. However, this funding will run out in one more year, Ms. Wise said. With the additional funds, valued at $500 per student, the university can continue reimbursing about 80 qualified students for these two courses.

Ms. Wise said she appreciates AT&T and UT Tyler’s support of the UTeach program and science, technology, engineering and math programs in general.

“We are lacking good math and science teachers not just in East Texas but the United States,” she said. “The fact that we have money to keep this program moving in this direction, we’re extremely grateful.”

University, city and business leaders praised the partnership as one that will expand educational opportunities and produce qualified graduates ready for high-skilled jobs.

“I commend AT&T on their generous donation supporting STEM education,” Mayor Barbara Bass said, according to the news release. “Preparing our students for careers in the STEM fields will give Tyler a competitive advantage and is a major focus of our Industry Growth Initiative.”

AT&T Regional Director Candice Gast said the company recognizes today’s businesses need people with strong math and science skills.

“At AT&T, we recognize these skills are more often required by our employees, and all businesses,” Ms. Gast said, according to the news release. “This is why we’re glad to partner with UT Tyler to help more people fully participate in the fast-paced global economy, today and in the future.”