NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Students and teachers at three New Brunswick public schools will receive a free device and a data plan from Verizon as part of the communication corporation’s initiative to address the digital divide.

The sixth, seventh and eighth graders at Lincoln Annex, McKinley Community School and New Brunswick Middle School will participate in the program, beginning with the 2021-22 school year.

In addition to free technology and access, schools will be provided with professional development and support, along with the opportunity to engage in teaching and learning that leverages technology in and out of the classroom, according to a press release from a spokesman for the school district.

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Launched in 2012, Verizon’s Innovative Learning program has reached more than 212,000 students and 14,000 teachers across 264 middle and high schools. The three New Brunswick schools are among 148 new schools joining Verizon Innovative Learning, bringing the program to more than 400 middle and high schools.

In addition to free mobile devices and accompanying 30GB 4G LTE data plans, participating schools will be assigned a full-time coach to train teachers in effectively integrating technology into their lessons.

“The past year has demonstrated that communication technology is an essential component of a complete and successful educational experience,” said Aubrey Johnson, superintendent of New Brunswick public schools. “This program will give our students access to the very latest tech offerings, while providing our educators with outstanding professional development opportunities. We’re delighted to be connected with Verizon Innovative Learning.”

"Verizon is proud to welcome New Brunswick Public Schools to the Verizon Innovative Learning program (VILS),” said Braxton Plummer, director of state government affairs at Verizon. “Through this transformative program, we are working to increase digital inclusion and enable students to acquire the skills they need to thrive in a digital world. In particular, STEM is key in education and the workforce, and VILS will be a great resource for the students of New Brunswick’s public school system."

Johnson told TAPinto New Brunswick during a March 2020 interview that the district distributed Chromebooks to students and that all students had a device to remotely complete their schoolwork.