El Paso school district receives an $8 million investment to provide students with 24/7 access to technology and hands-on learning

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Jeannine Brew
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El PASO, TX – Five middle schools in the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) joined Verizon Innovative Learning, including Armendariz, Bassett, Charles, Henderson and Morehead. As part of the initiative, the Verizon Foundation funded a grant of $8 million across all five schools – $1.6 million per school – to provide all teachers and students with access to technology tools, service, STEM education programs and training over a two-year period.

All students and teachers participating in the initiative will receive a personal mobile device and a two-year Verizon Wireless 4G LTE data plan for 24/7 internet access at school and at home. Teachers will also receive comprehensive ongoing professional development, provided by non-profit Digital Promise, on how to effectively integrate mobile technology in their lessons. 

“Verizon is investing in the future by equipping students with devices, data plans, leadership skills training and more to empower them to explore the possibilities of STEM careers,” said Verizon South Central Market President Krista Bourne. “We’re providing students with the resources and confidence they need to become tomorrow’s creators.”

Over the past couple of weeks, students across the five schools received their tablets at device distribution events with interactive learning experiences including:

  • Science: Virtual Reality Universe, where students used VR headsets to learn about physical and life sciences through different immersive “worlds.”
  • Engineering: The Great BB-8 Race, in which students used their tablets to control BB-8 droids, discovering how robotics engineering brings their favorite Star Wars character to life.

“This program is a huge opportunity for EPISD students to gain valuable exposure to technology that can truly impact their lives,” EPISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera said. “Our students, teachers and parents are all very excited for the experience they are beginning.”

Verizon Innovative Learning Initiative

Forty-six schools, including the five EPISD middle schools, are part of the Verizon Innovative Learning initiative, which reaches nearly 27,000 students and 2,100 teachers across the country. In the last two years, results of the initiative have shown that 67 percent of teachers believe their students were more engaged, 53 percent of teachers felt that interactions between students were more positive and 41 percent of students completed hands-on projects using technology on at least a weekly basis.

According to Pew Research, roughly one-third (31.4%) of households whose annual incomes fall below $50,000 and with children ages 6 to 17, do not have a high-speed internet connection at home, placing low income students at a learning disadvantage.

With the recent growth in STEM-skilled jobs, and the underrepresentation of minorities in these fields, it’s clear more needs to be done to level the playing field for students from minority and underserved communities. Through Verizon Innovative Learning, the education initiative of the Verizon Foundation, educators develop measurable STEM education programs that provide students with technology and hands-on learning to help build the confidence they need to become tomorrow’s creators.