BASKING RIDGE, N.J. – This summer, Verizon Innovative Learning launches its first program addressing the need for more girls, especially those in rural America, to be prepared for the science, technology, engineering and math careers of the future.
The three-week summer learning experience will be piloted at five community colleges in rural areas across Iowa, Virginia and Tennessee in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE).
The program will expose 250 middle school girls to the fundamentals of augmented reality, coding, 3D design, entrepreneurship and design thinking principles, as well as to female mentors. Leveraging an augmented reality interface and app, students will create a culminating project that identifies – and solves – a community problem that aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Focus areas of the SDGs include poverty reduction, quality education, good health and well-being, climate action, peace and justice or gender equality.
“We need more young women to have more exposure to new technologies and to, learn about the varied and lucrative jobs available to them within STEM fields,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, Director of Education for the Verizon Foundation. “Through this new program, we are thrilled to offer the latest cutting-edge technology for our Verizon Innovative Learning students to engage with, that can ignite their entrepreneurial mindsets.”
Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM careers, where a staggering 86 percent of engineers and 74 percent of computer professionals are men. The percentage of women in STEM careers has not improved since 2001, specifically within the engineering (12 percent) and computing (26 percent) workforces.
As a member organization of more than 300 community colleges across the country, NACCE is dedicated to supporting job creation and entrepreneurs in local communities. Community colleges selected for the Verizon Innovative Learning program are among the most innovative, committed and entrepreneurial of NACCE’s membership, and include:
- Western Iowa Tech Community College System (Sioux City, IA)
- Northern Iowa Area Community College (Mason City, IA)
- Patrick Henry Community College (Martinsville, VA)
- Paul D. Camp Community College (Franklin, VA)
- Roane State Community College (Harriman, TN)
Following the summer program, students will continue to participate in monthly courses both in-person and virtually, to build upon learnings and complete their final augmented reality products.
The program was developed under Verizon Innovative Learning, an initiative of the Verizon Foundation to bring free technology, access and hands-on immersive learning experience to kids in need to prepare them to thrive in a digital economy.
This year, Verizon launched #weneedmore, an effort to bring more attention to the critical need for more kids to see the world of possibilities waiting for them in STEM fields.