Verizon Foundation Invests More Than $100,000 in Indiana STEM Projects for Students

Numerous Academic Programs are Planned for K-12 Schools and Universities

Nov 12, 2015, 08:43 ET from Verizon

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the nation's largest and most reliable network, is investing more than $100,000 in Indiana students to drive engagement and interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with many of its grants serving underserved youth. The foundation has established programs that enable students to explore in STEM in new, innovative ways, increase teachers' efficiency in integrating technology into the classroom and create more personalized learning environments to help students succeed.

  • "Student interest and proficiency in STEM has been stagnant in the United States, especially among women and minorities, although 80 percent of all jobs over the next decade will require STEM skills. That's why we are focusing so much of our resources here in Indiana, to get students engaged," said Aimee Novak, director of business sales for Verizon in Indiana.
  • "This year's motto of 'Small School, Big Opportunities' has been highlighted with the arrival of the tools we have invested in with our Verizon grant. What has me chuckling the most is that we have only begun and we are working in the Awesome Spectrum now … or so say the kids," said Robert Wilson, technologist at the Indiana School for the Deaf. "What I believe saved the day was that our zeal and passion are on par. Our size has us equally abundant in our wealth of STEM capabilities, thanks to Verizon, since our small school is able to offer first and world-class STEM classes which provide authentic experiences in learning skills for a modern technological workplace."
  • "Thanks to the Verizon Innovative Learning Award, Washington Irving 14 has been able to sustain our after school STEM programs. In one year time we went from having no STEM programs to developing three! We are currently doing a LEGO program for second-graders, robotics with students in grades 4-6 and math pentathlon with sixth graders," said Chris York, teacher at Washington Irving 14. "It has been great to watch the brains develop. We have seen kids struggle through some tough problems and come out with an answer on the other end. These after-school STEM programs have enhanced our learning environment and allowed our kids to problem-solve in real-world ways."
  • "Support from Verizon will not only make a difference in the competence of high school students to grow and excel in their math and literacy skills, it also will enable students to build self-confidence through our partnership," said Dr. Khaula Murtadha, associate vice chancellor for Community Engagement at Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis. "The one-on-one tutoring model using college students is an added bonus – the progress of more young people toward college and career readiness."
  • "Paul Harding Junior High students have been blessed with having the Verizon Innovative Learning award. In schools of high poverty, often times the learning is geared toward bringing students' ability up to grade level. Due to lack of resources available, students that are mid-to-higher ability are often neglected," said David Broerman, seventh-grade science teacher at Paul Harding Junior High. "The Verizon Innovative Learning award supporting STEM has allowed all students to be pushed and have more opportunities for their future. We are especially excited that our robotics team will be competing at the Fort Wayne Ivy Tech FLL Qualifying Tournament on Nov. 21."

The goal of many Verizon-funded programs is to find ways to connect with students earlier in their studies so that innovative programs can help create a STEM-literate workforce. The Verizon Innovative Learning program provides unique opportunities to students, such as adequate educational preparation through innovative teaching methods and encouragement from role models, mentors, teachers and parents who see the potential of the girls to succeed in STEM careers. Additionally, the company has hosted for the past three years a nationwide student app design contest. The competition channels young people's devotion to their mobile devices into a hands-on learning experience that empowers them to become builders of technology solutions to everyday problems. For more on the program visit:

Verizon Foundation is funding the following initiatives in Indiana:          

Ball State University's goal is to encourage middle school girls in East Central Indiana to pursue challenging careers in STEM areas by engaging them in a powerful program of STEM exploration, including astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, mathematics, technology and engineering, organized around a theme of planetary investigation. Young female students in the U.S. are targeted to study and pursue careers in STEM at a much lower rate than males. The university's planned events include visits to its cutting-edge planetarium and summer science camp where girls will work in small collaborative teams. Community leaders will help recruit girls from all socioeconomic, racial and cultural groups within a 10-county area.

Paul Harding Junior High School plans to extend its robotics program to 290 students throughout the school day in science classes. Not only will more students have hands-on use with robotics, but students will transition more easily when they matriculate to seventh and eighth grades because they will have had experiences with high school students and staff when accessing the robotics coursework. Teachers will incorporate science-based activities across the curriculum to support students mastering critical 21st Century skills: technology, engineering and team-building skills through competitions. Demonstrations and scenario-based activities will also target students from grades 3 through 6.

Indy Learning Centers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) partners with schools and community-based centers such as the Family, School and Neighborhood Engagement unit to bring IUPUI students on school sites to work with students in grades K-12. These groups ensure academic success of vulnerable students and prepare them for graduation and college and career readiness. Last year, 4,491 students were served, and 63 tutors worked at local schools, providing 8,700 individual tutoring sessions and 2,000 classroom tutoring sessions at Indianapolis-based Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School and George Washington Community High School. The one-on-one tutoring model not only leads to higher grades in STEM studies and literacy while improving college and career readiness, but also builds self-confidence, perseverance and character.

The Indiana School for the Deaf is offering a unique opportunity to its students to bring manufacturing prototyping to coursework that will feature solving engineering problems through product development and sales. Autodesk AutoCAD, Inventor 3D CAD, SketchUp, Blender and LightWave3D are being taught to create objects for virtual environments. STEAM classes are planned that will have multiple departments working in collaboration toward teaching cross-curriculum classes. STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking. The school is creating student opportunities in the classroom and in after-school clubs.

Washington Irving School 14 is establishing sustainable Project Lead the Way curriculum allowing teaches in grades 2 through 6 to focus on STEM programming and 21st Century learning opportunities. The school has a developed program for fifth graders and is expanding. This school in the Indianapolis Public Schools district is a Title I school serving a population where 85 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs. With the help of STEM programming, the school aims to close the achievement gap for its students in state testing in science and offer enrichment programming after school hours.

Media Contact:
Trevor Thomas, Verizon,, 248-915-3680

About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company's innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, healthcare and energy management. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon's employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.8 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information about Verizon's philanthropic work, visit; or for regular updates, visit the Foundation on Facebook ( and Twitter (


SOURCE Verizon