Hundreds of middle school boys will head to college this summer for hands-on lessons in coding, 3D design and entrepreneurship

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BASKING RIDGE, N.J. – Verizon is sending hundreds of minority middle school boys across the U.S. to college campuses this summer for technology education as part of its Minority Male Makers program. The first-of-its-kind, two-year program exposes young male African American and Latino students to technology, including coding software and 3D printers, and provides valuable STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and entrepreneurship skills. The program also pairs students with mentors from the university for continued learning and support throughout the school year.

Launched in the summer of 2015 in partnership with four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the Verizon Minority Male Makers program reached more than 470 middle school boys. Today, Verizon announces the expansion of the program to an additional seven HBCUs and one Hispanic-serving institution including:

  • California State University, San Bernardino, San Bernardino, CA
  • Central State University, Wilberforce, OH
  • Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA
  • Delaware State University, Dover, DE
  • Hampton University, Hampton, VA
  • Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis, MO
  • Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
  • University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC

“As a mother of two sons, I am well aware of the challenges that African American males struggle with today. We created the Minority Male Makers program to provide these young men with STEM skills, because I have seen firsthand how exposure to technology can open their eyes to a brighter future they thought was out of their reach. We’ve already seen amazing results, and we can’t wait to see how they’ll change the world,” said Justina Nixon Saintil, director of Education Programs at Verizon. 

In the first year of Verizon’s Minority Male Makers program, more than 580 products including apps and 3D printed objects were designed and created by students. An evaluation of the program also revealed that:

  • 100% of students increased mobile technology proficiency;
  • 75% increased interest in STEM subjects; and
  • 69% increased interest in STEM careers.

Minority males remain severely underrepresented in STEM fields, according to the National Science Foundation. In an effort to address this disparity, the initiative aims to spark students’ interest in STEM before high school, a time when many students lose interest in these subjects, according to a study from STEMconnector.

Verizon’s Minority Male Makers program is one of many Verizon Innovative Learning initiatives designed to inspire tomorrow’s creators. The program includes summer technology classes where the students work on hands-on projects, with classes held 4-5 days per week for up to four weeks, and taught by university partners. Students also meet with mentors and gain further experience with technology throughout the school year. In addition, accomplished entrepreneur, music executive and program ambassador, Kevin Liles, has visited the universities to inspire the middle school students on turning innovative ideas into business ventures.

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