Nakia, a 7th grade student, grew up in Benton, Tennessee, where nearly 18% of the population lives in poverty. The county’s lack of resources was felt by many in the community, including students at Nakia’s school, which was not equipped with all the technological tools it needed to enhance students’ learning and help them be competitive with their peers.

At times, the teenager struggled to keep up with both her school work and extracurricular activities, and sometimes found it difficult to apply the knowledge she learned in the classroom. That began to change when the Verizon Innovative Learning program, which is supported by the Verizon Foundation, came to Nakia’s school.

Using digital devices provided to her school through the transformative program, Nakia gained free internet access and benefited from free technology and hands-on learning experiences and curricula that transformed her education in and out of the classroom.

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Verizon has been working hard to help solve the problem of education inequality and support students like Nakia through this program since 2012.

“Verizon has shown me a whole world of opportunities. With the technology [and access] in our school, I was able to understand how the smaller pieces can build on to the bigger pieces. Learning how I would use these skills later on has changed my perspective of how the world works,” Nakia, who aspires to be the CEO of her own company someday, said. She and her teachers know that in today’s increasingly digital world, technology will be crucial to achieving that dream.  

Nakia is not the only student whose education has been transformed with the help of Verizon Innovative Learning. Her school’s principal, Jason, says he’s seen a positive impact on the whole school.

“We live in a poor economic developed area that is not fluent in the technological language and the technology has changed the students’ lives,” Jason said. “If it doesn’t give you chills and make you want to stand up on a table and cheer, then I don’t know what can.” 

Their school in Benton is just one of many that Verizon has been supporting with in-depth and ongoing teacher training, curriculum guides, tablets, and 4G LTE data plans that fundamentally change the way that teachers teach and students learn.

Read More: Millions of Students in the US Lack Access to Technology and High-Speed Internet

Students at schools supported by Verizon Innovative Learning are improving on standardized tests at higher rates than their peers. They are 53% more engaged in school, three times better in math and two times better in reading. But the benefits of the program are seen outside of the classroom too.

“I always have a little side project going on to keep myself occupied. This year I’ve been teaching myself sign language so I’m able to look up different words, numbers and letters with my device,” Nakia said.

Verizon has already committed a total of $400 million to providing free technology, access, and innovative learning programs to more than 1 million kids. The technology company aims to help 2 million more by 2021. 

Verizon believes the entire country can help raise their voice towards education equality and will donate $1 in tech education resources and tools for schools in need for every person who adds their name here in support of education, up to $2 million.


Defeat Poverty

Verizon Is Helping Students Bridge the Digital Divide

By Daniele Selby