With the increase in cyber safety issues facing students and school districts, including the new Massachusetts anti-bullying law, the Verizon Foundation has teamed up with Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston Public Schools to increase students' awareness of proper computer usage in the city's schools.
Because the Verizon Foundation recognizes how important it is that students understand their responsibility to behave appropriately and exhibit safe behavior online, it donated $15,000 to the school district's Cyber Safety Campaign to support its Cyber Mentor program. The program enables high school and college students to inform students of all ages about the importance of Internet safety and the school district's Acceptable Use Policy. The policy explains how computers are to be used in the schools.
"Verizon's business is centered on technology, and we believe it is our responsibility to be proactive and help people understand how to use the technology of the Internet safely," said Donna Cupelo, Verizon region president of New England. "We applaud the city of Boston's leadership in ensuring that Boston Public Schools students have positive online experiences."
The BPS Office of Instructional and Information Technology recently led the process to revise the district's Acceptable Use Policy, with input from teachers, parents, administrators and students. The Verizon Foundation's funding is supporting a program that enables 14 high school cyber mentors and three college-age supervisors to develop multi-media presentations and video clips about the policy. The program will be delivered to students when they return to school. The Cyber Mentors are also spending the summer conducting Internet safety awareness presentations to more than 4,000 youths throughout Boston. All of the materials produced by the Cyber Mentors will be posted online at www.bpscybersafety.org.
"Having our students understand this policy will help us ensure that students are prepared to safely and responsibly use the Internet," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol R. Johnson. "By revising our Internet safety guidelines to make it a student-centered policy that is also available in grade-level vocabulary - as well as translated into multiple languages - students will be more aware of their actions online. We appreciate the Verizon Foundation's investment in helping us spread the message of Internet safety."
Menino and the city of Boston have been at the forefront of this growing issue of Internet safety. Earlier this year the mayor established a first-of-its-kind anti-bullying hotline. In addition, several city departments are engaged in the cyber safety initiative, including the Boston Public Health Commission, Mayor's Youth Zone and the Boston Centers for Youth and Families.
About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence. In 2009, the Verizon Foundation awarded $67.9 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. It also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $26.1 million in combined contributions to nonprofits. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 5 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 92 million customers nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers innovative, seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon last year generated consolidated revenues of more than $107 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.
About The Boston Public Schools
The Boston Public Schools serves more than 56,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 135 schools, and in 2006 won the Broad Prize for Urban Education as the top city school district in the country. For more information, visit www.bostonpublicschools.org.