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The Cornerstone of Our Commitment – Technology-Based Learning
Since its inception in 1986, the BellSouth Foundation has taken the lead on promoting educational improvement and reform in our region, with an investment that exceeds $56 million. A key focus of this investment has been for the integration of technology in education. We believe that technology helps students enhance their skills to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace and makes learning relevant to the world beyond the classroom.
As technology has evolved, we’ve always been at the forefront - convening education leaders regionally, and assisting them with the development of technology plans, policies and applications. We built on our early support of education technology by providing more than 6,400 schools in the Southeast with advanced technology solutions and grants, through our work with NetDay. On the heels of NetDay, our edu.pwr3 initiative provided educators and students with skills for harnessing technology and incorporating it into every aspect of teaching, learning and school management.
Working collaboratively with our partners in the education community, we’ve had great success and we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished. However, as technology evolves and the needs of the education community change, we re-define our focus at the Foundation to meet those needs.
In an effort to meet the changing needs of the education community, we’re launching a new strategy that builds on our history of support for education, that is important to the communities we serve, and that leverages the resources of our company — our people, our technology and our expertise.
BellSouth 20/20 Vision for Education
BellSouth 20/20 Vision for Education is a $20 million initiative designed to bring engaging, rigorous, online instruction to students throughout our region — particularly low-income and minority students — to help address the growing achievement gap and increase graduation rates.
E-Learning benefits education leaders, teachers and students by providing the online delivery of innovative instruction and educational content that erases boundaries and expands opportunities for teaching and learning.
A recent study released by Harvard University found that only 50 percent of Black, Latino and Native American students in the nation earn a high school diploma, and that problem is particularly acute in the South — where we live and work. In the South, the graduation rate for minorities is well below 50 percent. We feel a sense of urgency to turn these dismal statistics around, and we will strive to do that through our e-Learning initiative.
The BellSouth 20/20 Vision for Education approach is two-pronged: the company will focus on strengthening state-led virtual schools across the region and will accelerate virtual learning in ten targeted communities by expanding access and introducing technology-based learning to students. In addition, the initiative includes a robust volunteer strategy that will harness the talent and expertise of BellSouth’s 100,000 volunteers to maximize the work in this new focus area.
The BellSouth 20/20 Vision for Education initiative is comprised of three strategies - Strengthen Virtual Schools, Expand Access to e-Learning and Leverage Volunteers to Maximize Impact:
Strengthen Virtual Schools
We believe that virtual schools and online learning are an innovative approach for education leaders as they seek efficient and cost-effective ways to accommodate growing student populations, meet diverse curriculum needs, and provide a qualified teacher in every classroom. Several hundred thousand middle and high school students are enrolled in online learning courses nationwide and virtual schools are now recognized as an integral resource to assure student success and better prepare them for college and the workplace. Students benefit by having access to a broader curriculum and by engaging in anytime, anywhere, rigorous learning. Through a combination of grants, partnerships, convenings and other programs, the BellSouth Foundation will accelerate the deployment and enhance the capabilities of State-led Virtual Schools.
Expand Access to e-Learning
Another key component of our e-Learning strategy is to Expand Access to e-Learning by supporting efforts to provide affordable technology options to low-income students and their families — allowing them to take advantage of virtual courses and other e-Learning opportunities. Many low-income students do not have easy access to technology and online educational content in their homes and these students often lag behind in student achievement. By expanding access to online learning to students in underserved communities, we will support schools’ efforts to improve achievement for low income students.
Leverage Volunteers to Maximize Impact
We are maximizing the impact of our e-Learning focus by Leveraging BellSouth Volunteers in support of these initiatives. Currently, we have over 100,000 active and retired volunteers. Our volunteers will introduce opportunities for technology-based learning to students in their homes; at their elementary, middle and high schools; and in after school programs. In addition, volunteers will act as mentors to support students engaged in virtual learning.
For more information about the BellSouth Foundation’s e-Learning Initiative, contact us at 404-249-2396 or via email at [email protected].