N.C. A&T, Verizon Address Digital Divide through Virtual STEM Academy, Provide Equipment for Local Students

By Jamie Crockett / 12/28/2020

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Dec. 28, 2020) – The pandemic highlights disparities in access, including access to technology for young students who were thrust into remote learning. In response, leaders at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University established a virtual STEM academy for the summer and academic school year and provided laptops to 60 students at Allen Middle School after receiving a $50,000 COVID-19 relief grant from Verizon.

“We recognized an incredible need to both bridge the digital divide we have witnessed locally as well as continue offering free and interactive STEM programming for our young men,” said Clay Gloster Jr., Ph.D., vice provost for graduate research and dean of the Graduate College. “We are very grateful for Verizon’s evident impact in our community.”

A&T’s long-term partnership through the Verizon Innovative Learning program has provided free technology and internet access as well as STEM-focused activities and curriculum for mentors and program directors working with young men since 2015. Gloster and Marquita McCulley, the university’s Verizon Innovative Learning program director, pivoted and reimagined programming this summer and invited 13 local students, including some Verizon Innovative Learning participants, to take part in a two-week summer virtual STEM academy. The summer program offered courses in a STEM Factory (3D design), business and financial literacy and personal development and participated in virtual college tours.

The program during the academic year mirrored similar activities for 20 participants. The students med virtually once a month, explored various industries and identified STEM connections through interactive classes led by program volunteers. Participants joined small peer groups and one-on-one check-in sessions to discuss current events and their personal goals and challenges while receiving support and guidance from mentors. 

“We would like to thank Verizon for the continued financial investment and partnership with North Carolina A&T,”
said McCulley. “Together, we are creating the future STEM professionals as we help students discover their STEM identity and through outreach and partnerships, we continue to enrich the Greensboro community.”

Students also participated in the virtual Flying Classroom hosted by Capt. Barrington Irving, known for his STEM advocacy and for setting the Guinness World Record as the youngest and first Black pilot to take a solo flight around the world.

Next spring, students will attend a ceremony with their parents and have an opportunity to showcase their work and how they have grown during the program. They will also receive recognition for successfully completing the program.

Media Contact Information: jicrockett@ncat.edu

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