Verizon Deepens Commitment To Help Vulnerable Communities and Bridge Digital Divide

SOURCE: Verizon

SUMMARY:

2020-2025 responsible business investment to exceed $3 billion

Builds upon Fios Forward and now offers Emergency Broadband Benefit program for qualifying customers

DESCRIPTION:

Media contact(s)

Bernadette Brijlall
bernadette.brijlall@verizon.com

Alex Lawson
alex.lawson@verizon.com

What you need to know:

  • Today, Verizon serves the most rural wireless customers in the U.S. and has the highest reliability ranking in the industry.

  • As part of Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan to impact economic, environmental and social advancement, investment to help vulnerable communities is on track to exceed $3 billion by 2025.

  • New partnership with National 4-H Council announced, aimed at bringing digital skills training to rural communities though the 4-H Tech Changemakers program.

  • Resumes Verizon Innovative Learning STEM programs for Young Men of Color and Rural Young Women.

  • Offers Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to qualified customers, including new and existing Verizon Fios, 5G Home Internet, LTE Home Internet, Mobile Mix & Match Unlimited or Mobile Hotspot customers, beginning May 12th.

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. /3BL Media/ - Verizon today announced new programs, initiatives and investments to help underserved communities bridge the digital divide.

These efforts are part of Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental and social advancement, and builds on offerings such as Fios Forward, which provides reliable internet access and inclusion for customers. The company’s total 2020-2025 responsible business investment is slated to exceed $3 billion.

“Responsible business isn’t philanthropy, it must be part of the core strategy,” said Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon. “We are committed to building sustainable solutions for our key stakeholders and driving access to mobility, broadband and cloud services for all.”

“These actions are important steps in Verizon’s long standing work to put the power of technology in the hands of people who need it most. It also underscores our commitment to leveraging the power of technology to address issues of equity and equality in underserved communities across the country,” said Rose Stuckey Kirk, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Verizon.

Network Build and Reliability

Verizon offers the largest wireless network to customers in rural communities. Verizon’s network covers over 159,000 more square miles, reaching nearly half a million more people than the next closest provider.1 To put that into perspective, that’s an area larger than North and South Dakota combined. Verizon also offers LTE Home Internet in 189 primarily rural markets in 48 states. And according to a prominent third party evaluator, Verizon’s wireless network has been the most reliable for the past eight years.2

Bringing digital skills training to rural communities

Verizon is partnering with the National 4-H Council to provide digital skills training to adults in rural communities, with a specific focus on people of color, through the 4-H Tech Changemakers program. Working with nine Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), all land-grant institutions, the program will credential teens in the communities to provide training that is expected to empower 15,000 adults with basic digital skills needed for jobs, education, banking and healthcare by the end of the year. This initiative is a part of Verizon's efforts to support digital inclusion in rural communities.

STEM programs for young men of color and rural young women

After a pause in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, Verizon Innovative Learning is resuming its project-based STEM learning programs, Young Men of Color and Rural Young Women. The year-round programs, which are open to all middle school students, kick-off with summer camps and are held in partnership with HBCUs, Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and community colleges across the country.

Reaching nearly 5,000 young students per year, both Young Men of Color and Rural Young Women work to empower underserved middle school students to explore STEM subjects, learn problem-solving skills and consider career opportunities in technology fields by providing mentorship, access to technology and hands-on training.

Verizon Innovative Learning Expands digital learning resources

Verizon is unveiling new augmented reality (AR) apps to further enhance immersive learning in Verizon Innovative Learning schools. The Career Day app includes a series of episodic, interactive conversations with influential creative and STEM professionals brought to life through holograms. Spotlighting technology leaders, the app’s goal is for students to gain a deep understanding of each expert's career, the societal importance of what they do and provide exposure to job paths that they didn’t know existed. The Aurelia app allows students to explore deep sea ecosystems to teach them about biology, chemistry and the environment.

Additionally, Verizon is also unlocking 5G EdTech Challenge winning apps for all Verizon Innovative Learning students, including UNSUNG by nonprofit Movers and Shakers NYC, a multiplayer AR educational game that highlights the narratives of Black female musicians who have used their voices to overcome adversity and advocate for social change. These unique learning apps are available to students in select Verizon Innovative Learning schools and will be available to all students in the program this fall.

As the need for remote learning resources continues, Verizon is continuing to provide free professional development for all K-12 educators through Teacher Training Pathways, designed to help teachers become more efficient and effective in delivering technology-integrated instruction, and Verizon’s STEM Activity Center, an online toolkit that provides STEM resources and hands-on activities that introduce K-12 students to new skills within augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D design and more.

“Responsible business isn’t philanthropy, it must be part of the core strategy...We are committed to building sustainable solutions for our key stakeholders and driving access to mobility, broadband and cloud services for all.” Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon

Emergency Broadband Benefit program & broadband access

To help close the digital divide, beginning May 12, Verizon customers who meet income-based requirements set by the FCC will temporarily receive monthly discounts up to $50 per month—or up to $75 per month if on tribal lands. The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program discounts internet service and related equipment such as routers, for families and individuals who continue to experience financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. It helps qualifying customers maintain connectivity for virtual learning, remote work, telehealth visits, and more. The program is available to new and existing Fios, 5G Home Internet, LTE Home Internet, Mobile Mix & Match Unlimited or Mobile Hotspot customers.*

Verizon also supports access for customers with Fios Forward, a program that helps eligible households save $20 per month for high-speed fiber home internet service.

Who qualifies for Emergency Broadband Benefit Program discounts?

EBB eligibility is determined by the FCC and verified by Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC). New and existing Verizon customers can qualify if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • Lifeline enrolled customer**
  • National School Lunch Program (free or reduced) participant
  • Pell Grant recipient (in current year)
  • Lost a job or had significant income loss during the pandemic***
  • HHI 135% below the Federal Poverty Guideline

To confirm eligibility for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program discount, visit getemergencybroadband.org. Once approved, customers can call 1-800-VERIZON (837-4966) to enroll in the Fios EBB program or 1.800.922.0204 to enroll in EBB for LTE Home, 5G Home, Mobile Mix & Match Unlimited or Mobile Hotspot plans.

Verizon is committed to creating a digitally inclusive and equitable society, helping more people than ever stay connected and thrive in today's virtual learning environment. To learn more about Verizon’s Digital Inclusion efforts, visit CitizenVerizon.com.


* For customers who have a mobile hotspot as the main service on their account.

** At least one of the qualifying Lifeline programs Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, FPHA, Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit; Bureau of Indian Affairs general assistance; Tribally administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF); Head Start (only those households meeting its income qualifying standard); or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).

*** Have at least one member of the household who has experienced a substantial loss of income since 2/29/20 (including unemployment & those furloughed). Income cap is an income in 2020 of $99k or less for single filers and $198k for joint filers.

1 Data compiled from Ookla CoverageRight report, reflective of 4Q 2020 data.

2 Rankings according to RootMetrics US RootScore Reports 2013-2020. Tested nat’l operators on all available network types. Award is not an endorsement.

Tweet me: @Verizon announced new programs, initiatives and investments to help underserved communities bridge the digital divide. https://bit.ly/3hxIuTb

KEYWORDS: CEO Hans Vestberg, Citizen Verizon, Verizon, NYSE:VZ, Vulnerable Communities

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