by Ray Hayes

On Tuesday, while listening to SiriusXM Urban View, I learned about the hashtag #WeNeedMore and thought it was important to share this information to readers who haven’t heard much about it. If you’ve seen the latest Verizon commercial staring Leborn James, then you know what I’m referring to.

The hashtag #WeNeedMore is Version’s campaign for the Verizon Innovative Learning for Minority Males program. The program initially debuted in 2015 with Justina Nixon-Saintil, the educational director of the Version Foundation. The Verizon Innovative Learning offers a three week summer program where students get to fully emerge themselves into the STEM field. After the three weeks are completed, one Saturday per month, participating program students return to the campus to continue their learning in STEM.

According to Nixon-Sainti “We did some research and looked at the stats around minority males going into STEM fields. We were aware of the programs geared towards girls such as Black Girls Code, but we noticed a gap in getting males on the path to STEM careers. 3 percent of scientists and engineers in the U.S. are African American and we felt that young African American male students are probably not getting the skills, support and mentoring they need to actually go after those computer science and engineering degrees. We launched the program to provide some support to middle school minority males because we felt that was an age where we can still get them excited about STEM.”

Verizon’s partnership also includes more than 15 Historically Black College and Universities, including Dillard University, North Carolina A&T, and Morgan State University.

For the program, between 100 and 200 students are accepted each year, being coached and taught by college professors.

To learn more about the Verizon Innovative Learning Initiative click here.