As a longstanding partner of Global Citizen, Verizon has demonstrated its commitment to demanding equity for many years — both on and off the festival stage.
A core 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 youth.
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 nationwide.
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 alumni 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. Further to that, 93% of the teachers credited the program with making aspects of remote instruction not only easier to implement, but more engaging for students.
In response to teachers’ reports of high engagement among Verizon Innovative Learning students, Verizon also launched Verizon Innovative Learning HQ in 2021. The free education portal takes the successful resources available through Verizon Innovative Learning and makes them available to any educator in the US. The portal is equipped with innovative learning apps, professional development courses, and tailored lesson plans for students.
Matthew Heine, a teacher at Jeremiah Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, has seen the impact that Verizon Innovative Learning curriculum has had in 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.