BASKING RIDGE, N.J. – To help address the significant need for a U.S. workforce equipped with the skills to succeed in an increasingly tech-based economy, Verizon is awarding 80 underserved public schools across the country grants of $20,000 to stimulate student interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering and math. The Verizon Innovate Learning Grants represent a $1.6 million investment for the 2014-15 school year.
A list of schools that have earned Innovate Learning Grants is available at http://www.thinkfinity.org/innovateaward/docs/innovate-learning-grant-recipients-14-15.pdf.
The demand for STEM-educated workers has been well documented in recent years, and a 2014 report found that the STEM job market is even larger than had been reported previously. Currently, 3 million STEM jobs are unfilled in the U.S., and 80 percent of all jobs over the next decade will require STEM skills.
Yet studies show that the supply of STEM-educated young men and women is not keeping pace with the demand. Of 3.8 million ninth graders in the U.S., only 233,000 end up choosing a STEM degree in college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And minorities, women and low-income students are underrepresented in the scientific and technical disciplines. For example, while three-fourths of girls in middle school show interest in STEM, less than 1 percent choose computer science as a college major.
Addressing the Need Through Mobile Technology, Professional Development
Verizon is focused on improving student engagement and achievement in STEM, and views mobile technology – when paired with ongoing professional development for teachers on effective integration – as a powerful tool to foster individualized learning environments and higher achievement.
Recipient schools will use their Verizon Innovate Learning grants for teacher professional development or programs that leverage new technologies like 3D printing and robotics, as well as coding.
“We created this program to boost innovative STEM initiatives in underserved schools nationwide, and we salute the 80 schools chosen to receive these grants,” said Rose Stuckey Kirk, Verizon’s vice president of global corporate citizenship and president of the Verizon Foundation. “These schools’ programs will expose more students in underserved schools to STEM fields, offering them hands-on, project-based learning opportunities to help increase their interest and achievement in STEM.”
Verizon already supports a number of STEM educational initiatives, including the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program, the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy and the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
These programs are making a difference. An evaluation of the VILS program earlier this year, supported by program partner the International Society for Technical Education, revealed promising results:
- Standardized test scores in math of students participating in the program increased by 4.13 percent, while the test scores of students in a control group of schools that are using mobile technology but are not participating in the program (and did not receive teacher training on how to use mobile technology) declined by 4.62 percent.
- Teachers in the VILS program reported that 37 percent of their students showed higher scores on classroom assessments.
- Two-thirds of the teachers also reported that, by using their mobile devices, they were providing more one-on-one help to individual students, and half said said they are spending less time on lectures to the entire class.
The Verizon Innovate Learning Grants program is part of Verizon’s commitment to the Obama administration’s ConnectED initiative, under which Verizon is providing up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the next three years to drive student achievement, especially in STEM subjects.
About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company’s innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, healthcare and energy management. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon’s employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.8 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information about Verizon’s philanthropic work, visit www.verizon.com/about/responsibility/; or for regular updates, visit the Foundation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/verizonfoundation) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/verizongiving).