Technology and the internet have become a vital part of modern living. Both crucially enable people to share information and ideas, and facilitate learning. Yet billions of people around the world lack access to these tools.
In the US alone, 24 million people don’t have access to high-speed internet and more than 20% of households do not have a computer. People living in low-income households or in poverty are more likely to experience difficulties accessing technology, according to the Pew Research Center.
This situation has created a digital divide in the educational attainment and income of those who can readily access technology and those who cannot. The digital divide also means that millions of students in the US struggle to realize their full potential.
Many schools, particularly in rural and low-income areas, do not have technological tools they need to enhance students’ learning and about a quarter of school districts in the US do not have high-speed internet.
In an increasingly digital world, that means these students are at risk of being left behind and losing out on valuable opportunities — but Verizon hopes to change that.
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Since 2012, Verizon has been providing free internet access and devices as well as access to immersive, hands-on learning experiences to underserved students through the Verizon Innovative Learning (VIL) program.
Schools participating in the transformative program receive 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. Through the Verizon Innovative Learning program, which is supported by the Verizon Foundation, innovation labs outfitted with the latest equipment and connectivity have been brought to life at select schools.
“By giving students access to the right tools and marrying it with a curriculum that is fueled by technology, we are having a deep impact on students lives,” says Rose Stuckey Kirk, Verizon’s Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer.
Students at Verizon Innovative Learning schools are improving on standardized tests at higher rates than their peers and are more engaged in class.
Since 2012, Verizon has committed a total of $400 million to its education initiatives, helping more than 1 million students gain access to free technology education. And the communications and technology company plans to expand the program to help even more students unlock their potential. In the upcoming school year, Verizon is adding 50 schools to its Verizon Innovative Learning program and will be helping 2 million more students by 2021.
“By 2020, nearly eight in 10 jobs will require technology skills and we all must work together to provide the education and resources students need to realize the brighter futures,” Kirk says. “Verizon Innovative Learning’s objective is to ensure that all children have every conceivable opportunity to be successful and make a positive impact on the world.”