Verizon Initiative to Shatter Stereotypes of Young Men of Color

Verizon Innovative Learning is the telecom's effort to combat the stereotyping of young men of color and provide access to valuable tech skills

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Past “Best in Nation” winners of the Verizon Innovative Learning App Challenge include these sixth-graders from Bronx Academy of Promise. (Image: Verizon)

“You don’t know me, you just see me.”

“I build machines that gather light and give energy to my needs. I build robotics.”

“I code, I build; I create.”

Several young men of color make their case against those who dare stereotype them in a video from Verizon Innovative Learning—an initiative from the telecommunications giant to provide middle-school young men of color access to advanced technology classes and skills in coding, robotics, and 3D printing.

Through the program, hundreds of middle-school boys across the country have worked on a number of engineering and technology projects.

App Challenge

The Verizon Innovative Learning also includes a yearly app challenge. This is a nationwide contest open to middle-school and high-school students. The students are asked to come up with ideas for mobile apps that solve problems that are particular to their communities.

The team that creates the winning concept out of all submissions nationwide goes on to learn coding form MIT mentors. These mentors will help the students build the app, get it ready for the marketplace, and then with its launch.

A prize of $5,000 is awarded to teams that win “Best in State” with their concepts, and tablets are given to each team member.

The “Best in Nation” and “Fan Favorite” winning teams receive $15,000 and the chance to work with the MIT experts.

24 teams win at the “Best in Region” level. Eight teams win at the “Best in Nation” level and one team wins the “Fan Favorite” award.

How to Enter

Registration for the Verizon Innovative Learning’s app challenge opens in August. Entry rules are as follows:

  • Teams of students affiliated with schools and nonprofit groups/clubs can enter the contest, with an adult advisor.
  • Students must be in grades 6-12.
  • Teams should be comprised of 5-7 members, plus the advisor.
  • Teams can register from public, private, or parochial schools; or from any non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
  • Advisors must be at least 18 years old.
  • The challenge is only open to teams in the United States.