Students, Meet STEM. STEM, Meet the Future

The students looked bewildered when they entered the small gym at Newman Elementary in Billings, Montana.

“How many of you have held $20,000?” said Principal Travis Niemeyer. “I haven’t held $20,000, but this money isn’t for me, it’s for you and for our school.”

Verizon guests from the B2B and retail channels awarded Principal Niemeyer, staff and students at the school with a $20,000 Verizon Innovate Learning Grant to help launch innovative new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.

“We are the only school in Montana that received this award, and one of 80 across the entire nation," said Principal Travis Niemeyer. "So it is a huge honor for us to be chosen.”

“It’s really amazing,” said fourth-grader Erica Kidd. “We might get some really good technology.”

Two other schools in the Mountain Region received the same award, Rose Park Elementary in Salt Lake City, Utah and Vineland Middle School in Pueblo, Colorado. All are part of the 80 public schools across the country to receive a grant this year as part of Verizon’s investment to help teachers use technology more effectively to engage students in STEM.

“Faculty and staff at these schools have told us that students often see STEM education as detached from their own lives,” said Chris Lewter, regional president for Verizon Wireless. “Our entire region feels proud to support the programs at these schools and to help increase students’ achievements in STEM.”

Here is how each school will use its Verizon Innovative Learning Grant:

  • Newman Elementary (Billings, MT) –Project Lead the Way will use hands-on learning and build partnerships in the community to bring STEM education to life for 3rd through 5th grades. Students will use technology to solve real-life problems with local non-profits and businesses in the area using critical thinking.
  • Rose Park Elementary (Salt Lake City, UT) - Rose Park Ignites STEM Education (RISE) will bring in professionals to showcase their work through interactive, community-engaged lessons. It will also help support Rose Park’s ‘Science is Fun’ series which will allow students and their parents to explore STEM campuses in the community.
  • Vineland Middle School (Pueblo, CO) –Vineland’s STEAM elective programs add Arts to the STEM equation and are open to all students. Their program will incorporate agriculture and artistic platforms to help students to collaborate, reason logically, and apply design and scientific processes to prepare for STEAM professions.

All three schools in the Mountain Region plan to incorporate teacher and staff training into the grants.

“In a year, these classrooms will be different,” said Principal Niemeyer.

The significant 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.

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 to drive student achievement, especially in STEM subjects.

To view a list of schools that received Verizon Innovate Learning Grants, visit