August 3, 2022

How Verizon is using technology to help bridge the digital divide in education

As a longtime partner of Global Citizen, Verizon has demonstrated its commitment to demanding fairness for many years, both on and off the festival stage.

A key pillar of Verizon’s approach to responsible business is ensuring digital inclusion for all. By 2030, the company aims to provide digital skills training to 10 million young people.

This year, as Verizon celebrates 10 years of Verizon Innovative Learning, the company’s award-winning educational initiative focused on breaking down barriers to digital inclusion, the need for connectivity and access to technology has never been so big. Since its inception, Verizon Innovative Learning has committed $1 billion to support digital equity and inclusion in education for some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations, reaching more than 1.5 million students.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought more attention to the digital divide, a gap that occurs between people who have easy access to digital technology, such as devices or the internet, and those who do not.

In early 2020, when schools transitioned to remote learning, Verizon immediately redoubled its efforts to provide classrooms with access to remote learning tools, so that no student or teacher took late. Verizon Innovative Learning welcomed more than 100 middle and high schools in the 2020-2021 school year alone and is now present in more than 500 middle and high schools across the country.

Verizon Innovative Learning was originally established in 2012 to ensure equal access to technology, resources, and training among students and educators in the United States. Along with nonprofit partners, the initiative provides underprivileged schools nationwide with a STEM curriculum, digital connectivity, technology tools, and in-depth teacher training that helps teachers and students learn in fun and engaging ways.

“My tech journey really started with my experience at Verizon Innovative Learning. Being part of the program throughout college not only taught me about STEM and the possibilities of technology, but also about discipline, leadership and accountability,” said Minu Patel, Verizon Innovative Learning alumni and currently an information science and technology major at Temple University. “I now mentor young girls, while pursuing a career in technology, because I know firsthand how much of a difference learning to believe in yourself can make.”

Limited access to technology and digital tools has not only impacted students in recent years, it has also impacted teachers.

More than 70% of teachers at Verizon Innovative Learning schools said they felt prepared for distance learning, according to a investigation from December 2020 it was conducted by Digital Promise, a nonprofit partner that helps implement the program. Additionally, 93% of teachers credited the program with making certain aspects of distance learning not only easier to implement, but also more engaging for students.

In response to teacher reports of Verizon Innovative Learning’s high student engagement, Verizon has also launched Verizon’s Innovative Learning Headquarters in 2021. The Free Education Portal takes the effective resources available through Verizon Innovative Learning and makes them available to any educator in the United States. The portal is equipped with innovative learning apps, professional development courses, and personalized lesson plans for students.

Matthew Heine, a teacher at Jeremiah Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, has seen the impact the Verizon Innovative Learning program has had on empowering his students.

“We’re creating thinkers for jobs that haven’t been created yet,” Heine said.

To learn more about the Verizon Innovative Learning Program, click here.

To learn more about Global Citizen’s partnership with Verizon, click here.