New documentary shows how millions of kids are denied technology — and a future.

By: Jason Small
Watch Video Without A Net: The Digital Divide In America - Official Trailer

By 2020, 77 percent of all jobs in the United States will require computer skills according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there is an alarming disparity in technology-supported education across school districts and a new documentary premiering tonight on the National Geographic Channel raises awareness of that disparity.

Academy Award® nominee Rory Kennedy directed the new film, “Without a Net: The Digital Divide in America”.

“Over one million classrooms in this country are without proper access to technology,” Kennedy shares in a recent interview with well-known journalist and show host Meredith Vieira along with Diego Scotti, Verizon’s chief marketing officer and executive producer of the documentary.

Jamie Foxx narrates the documentary as it peers into the lives of specific students across the country, illustrating the problem while shining a spotlight on the systemic issues at its heart.

“This speaks to a larger divide in the country because the education system is linked to our taxes and the finances of a particular community,” Kennedy shares with Vieira. In other words, the economics of a community impact the quality of education in that community.

The documentary also sheds light on innovative ways schools try to manage this disparity. Private sector companies and non-profits are stepping up to help, which is where Verizon comes in.

Not having proficiency in technology today is equivalent to not being able to read or write.

“Not having proficiency in technology today is equivalent to not being able to read or write,” Scotti says in the interview.

Through Verizon’s Innovative Learning Schools program, we’ve invested more than $160 million and worked with more than 100 schools over the past five years to help close the gap.

“Part of the solution is what Verizon and other corporations, individuals and governments are doing,” according to Kennedy.

But there is much more work to be done. More help is needed to get the right people involved to make changes at the heart of the problem.

Raising awareness is the first step and “Without a Net: The Digital Divide in America” does just that. Watch the premiere of the documentary on the National Geographic Channel tonight at 10/9c.

Go deeper by watching the full interview hosted by Meredith Vieira below.

Meredith Veira and Diego Scotti

Host Meredith Veira, Verizon CMO Diego Scotti and Filmmaker Rory Kennedy

Listen in on a podcast interview with Verizon Foundation president and executive producer Rose Kirk along with assistant professor at MIT in comparative media studies Justin Reich, who is featured in the film.


About the author(s): 

Jason Small leads storytelling for the Verizon communications team. His background includes online and offline roles in digital marketing and communications within corporate, agency and startup environments across more than 20 brands. You can connect with Jason on Twitter @JasonSmallChats.