This year, as Verizon celebrates 10 years of Verizon Innovative Learning, the company's award-winning education initiative focused on addressing barriers to digital inclusion, the need for connectivity and access to technology has never been greater.
Since its inception, Verizon Innovative Learning has committed $1 billion to support digital equity and inclusion within education for some of the most vulnerable populations across the country, reaching over 1.5 million students in the process.
The COVID-19 pandemic drew further attention to the digital divide, a gap that occurs between people who have ready access to digital technology, such as devices or the internet, and those who do not.
In early 2020, when schools moved to distanced learning, Verizon immediately doubled down on its efforts to provide classrooms with access to remote learning tools, so that no student or teacher would fall behind. Verizon Innovative Learning welcomed more than 100 middle and high schools in the 2020-2021 school year alone and is now in more than 500 middle and high schools across the USA.
Verizon Innovative Learning was originally created in 2012 to ensure equal access to technology, resources, and training among students and educators in the US. Alongside non-profit partners, the initiative provides under-resourced schools around the country with STEM curriculum, digital connectivity, technological tools, and extensive teacher training that help teachers and students learn in a fun and engaging way.
"My journey into tech really started with my experience in Verizon Innovative Learning. Being part of the program throughout middle school not only taught me about STEM and the possibilities of tech, but also about discipline, leadership, and accountability," said Minu Patel, Verizon Innovative Learning alumna and current Information Science and Technology major at Temple University. "I now mentor young girls, while pursuing a career in technology, because I know firsthand what a difference learning to believe in yourself can make."
Limited access to technology and digital tools hasn't only impacted students in recent years - it has also impacted teachers. More than 70% of teachers in Verizon Innovative Learning schools reported feeling prepared for distance learning, according to a survey from December 2020 that was conducted by Digital Promise, a non-profit partner that helps implement the program. Furthermore, 93% of the teachers credited the program with making aspects of remote instruction not only easier to implement, but more engaging for students.
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