(Photo courtesy of Verizon.com)

Verizon Foundation’s education arm Verizon Innovative Learning recently expanded their STEM & entrepreneurship program for minority middle school boys, according to officials of the organization. California State University Los Angeles is now included, along with Dillard University in New Orleans, Tennessee State and Florida International University. At the end of July, the Verizon Foundation will also host a conference in San Francisco for 100 of the top performing students, to meet other minorities paving the way in Silicon Valley and for real-life experience with tech jobs at the Verizon Innovation Center, Lucasfilm and more, officials said.

“In order to compete for the jobs of the future, it’s essential for every kid to have access to technology and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education,” they said.

“With about 9 million available STEM jobs – and over 4 million available jobs in science and technology alone – our youth need access to education and resources that will prepare them for success in tomorrow’s high-tech world.”

During the summer, minority male students from surrounding middle schools attend summer technology courses on university campuses, taught by professors, where they learn the fundamentals of STEM subjects and complete hands-on projects that further develop their creativity and complex problem solving skills, and help them build an entrepreneurial mindset. Students also meet with mentors and gain further experience with technology throughout the school year. According to VIL, over 2,000 students have participated in the program to date, with promising results: 47% of boys report feeling more confident in what they can do, 53% are more interested in STEM careers and 64% are more interested in attending college.

“Over the last two years, we have seen firsthand the positive impact that exposing new technologies and providing ongoing mentorship has had on the minority males in this program,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education for the Verizon Foundation. “Our university partners and the resources they bring to the table are helping these young men realize their potential in becoming the change-makers of tomorrow’s tech-driven economy.”

VIL officials have also noted a largely positive set of results stemming from the program including:

  • 47 percent feel more confident in what they can do;
  • 53 percent are more interested in STEM careers; and
  • 64 percent are more interested in attending college

“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,” officials said.

For more information visit www.weneedmore.com.