Supporting communities in times of disaster
Our employees helped millions of people impacted by disasters in 2019 get back on their feet in a variety of ways. Verizon and our employees donated to disaster recovery and community projects, including relief following Hurricane Dorian, the California wildfires and the Australian bushfires. We also continued to use our Emergency Resource Center Hub to update news media, local officials, employees and others about how we were responding to everything from wildfires to earthquakes to hurricanes. For current information on Verizon’s emergency response efforts, please visit our Emergency Resource Center.
Working in the age of COVID-19
Along with the rest of the world, in the first quarter of 2020 we began to address the unparalleled challenges of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a vital provider of the world’s critical communications infrastructure, our primary goal has been to keep our customers, employees and society connected to the people and resources important to them. We have undertaken numerous actions to maintain the top performance of our networks while safeguarding the health and well-being of our employees, meeting the needs of our customers and supporting our communities. The details of our response can be found on the Verizon response to COVID-19 page of our website.
Our company pledged to use the power of connectivity to help keep the nation’s economy moving forward. Equally important, we focused on the future, as demonstrated by the increase of capital investment guidance from $17-$18 billion to $17.5-$18.5 billion in 2020.
Balancing the safety of our employees with the critical needs of our customers, we have expanded work-from-home strategies and deployed the technology tools and assets to enable more than 100,000 employees to work remotely. To reduce exposure for our retail staff, we temporarily closed 70% of corporate-owned retail locations and identified temporary work assignments for retail store employees whose stores were closed. For employees who must deploy outside their homes to meet critical customer needs, we implemented a significantly enhanced compensation plan. In addition, we enacted a range of enhanced employee benefit policies, including a COVID-19 specific leave of absence policy offering 100% of pay for up to eight weeks and then 60% of pay beyond eight weeks for employees who are unable to work because they are providing care to loved ones or themselves.
During a time of crisis, it is more important than ever that our customers can rely on news and content they trust. To meet the critical need for information, we created a coronavirus hub page across the Yahoo ecosystem (News, Finance, Sports, Lifestyle & Entertainment) to aggregate the latest news about the pandemic in the U.S. and across the globe.
As a signatory to the FCC’s new “Keep Americans Connected” pledge, Verizon committed to help maintain connectivity and offer assistance to customers and small businesses facing challenges from the global crisis.
And, we went further to protect the most vulnerable by waiving late fees through June 30, adding 15GB of high speed data at no charge, offering free international calling to CDC level 3 countries and more.
We launched two significant programs to offer free content. The More at Home...on Us program provides no-cost access to a number of TV channels, as well as online learning and interactive study tools for children and adults, and Pay it Forward Live is a weekly streaming live entertainment series that offers music, gaming, comedy and more in support of small businesses affected by COVID-19.
We are supporting our communities by maintaining the reliable networks and connectivity solutions that enable the communications that are so vitally important in this crisis. We are working closely with first responders, healthcare providers, and federal, state and local government agencies. We have given first responders priority access to our network and have deployed technology to support COVID-19 field efforts at testing and triage centers, as well as to allow thousands of doctors to work remotely, alleviating stress on hospitals.
To date, we have committed to more than $50 million in contributions and donations to nonprofits directed at serving students, healthcare workers, first responders and small businesses in the U.S., as well as international relief efforts. Our financial commitments include contributions to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, focused on supporting small businesses; the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) COVID-19 Response Fund and Direct Relief, centered on supporting healthcare workers on the front lines; the World Health Organization and UN Foundation Solidarity Response Fund to aid in COVID-19 relief; and contributions to the American Red Cross and international Red Cross organizations. In addition, Verizon Media is donating $10 million of advertising inventory to support mental and public health response efforts.
We have also provided support to educators and students throughout the U.S. through our network and philanthropic donations. Our partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District has provided internet connectivity to thousands of students who don’t have internet access at home, enabling the district to continue delivering instruction despite school closures. Through Verizon Innovative Learning, we have provided free laptops and tablets with data plans, tripling the program’s normal data allowance to provide up to 30GB per month through June 30. This has provided increased access to remote instruction to as many as 116,000 students and teachers. In addition, recognizing the important role schools play in providing nutrition for low-income students, we committed a $5 million donation to support No Kid Hungry Responds: Coronavirus.
Also, together with the New York Times Company, we have given free access to NYTimes.com digital content to every high school in the U.S. from April 6 through July 6, 2020.
The Corporate Social Responsibility team actively worked with our nonprofit partner to facilitate virtual volunteer activities for employees to help communities and individuals hit hardest by COVID-19. Some of the virtual activities include tutoring students in under-resourced schools, becoming trained and serving as crisis text line counselors and sewing masks for healthcare workers.