Minority Middle School Males Get Tech Jump Start Through Verizon

Four new Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions added as program expands

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: September 21, 2017

Minority Middle School Males Get Tech Jump Start Through Verizon

This summer, thousands of minority middle school boys in 16 cities nationwide headed to college campuses to learn skills like mobile app development, 3D design, creating and flying drones, and developing virtual reality and augmented reality experiences as a part of Verizon Innovative Learning.

Launched in 2015 in partnership with HBCUs and HSIs, the 2-year program provided students over the summer with intensive, hands-on courses in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as access to mentors and continued programming throughout the school year.

Over 2,000 students have participated in the Verizon Innovative Learning program to date and as of July 2017 Verizon announced its expansion to four new HBCUs and HSIs, including:

*Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN
*Florida International University, Miami, FL
*California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
*Dillard University, New Orleans, LA

During the summer, minority male students from surrounding middle schools attended summer technology courses on university campuses, taught by professors, where they learned the fundamentals of STEM subjects and complete hands-on projects that further developed their creativity and complex problem solving skills, helping them build an entrepreneurial mindset. Students also met with mentors and gained further experience with technology throughout the school year.

"Over the last two years, we have seen firsthand the positive impact that exposing new technologies and providing ongoing mentorship has had on the minority males in this program," said Justina Nixon-Saintil, Director of Education for the Verizon Foundation. "Our university partners and the resources they bring to the table are helping these young men realize their potential in becoming the change-makers of tomorrow's tech-driven economy."

At the end of July, the Verizon Foundation hosted a conference in San Francisco for 100 of the top performing students in the program; inspiring them to become leaders in emerging technology trends like wearable technology, virtual reality, 3D printing and the Internet of Things. Students heard from industry professionals on the importance of minority males in the Silicon Valley ecosystem, and participated in hands-on experiential activities at the Verizon Innovation Center, Lucasfilm, Levi's Stadium and Auto Desk.

The program was developed under Verizon Innovative Learning, an initiative of the Verizon Foundation to bring free technology, access and hands-on immersive learning experiences to kids in need to prepare them to thrive in a digital economy. Among students in all Verizon Innovative Learning programs:

*47 percent feel more confident in what they can do;
*53 percent are more interested in STEM careers; and
*64 percent are more interested in attending college

This year, Verizon launched #weneedmore, an effort to bring more attention to the critical need for more kids to see the world of possibilities waiting for them in STEM fields.

Learn more about Verizon Innovative Learning at: https://www.weneedmore.com.

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