Mayor Walsh, Superintendent Chang Kick Off Verizon Program that Will Provide 1,100 BPS Middle-Schoolers with Tablets and Free Internet
Initiative to bridge digital divide for students at three schools
Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang today joined students and families of the James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury to launch the Verizon Innovative Learning Program, a partnership that is equipping 1,100 students and teachers at three district middle schools with iPads as part of a program aimed at integrating technology-based learning into classrooms.
In addition to the devices, Verizon is also providing students at the Timility, Edwards and McCormack middle schools two years of Verizon Wireless 4G LTE data plans for 24/7 internet access in the classroom and beyond. Each school is also receiving, for two years, a full-time technology coach from non-profit organization Digital Promise to ensure students learn how to use these tools responsibly and to provide teachers ongoing, instructional support.
“Our goal is to build 21st-century classrooms in all of our schools, and to ensure all BPS students have the tools they need to succeed and that includes technology,” said Mayor Walsh “Through BuildBPS and partnerships like these, we're working to create more opportunities for all students. We are grateful for Verizon’s partnership in providing our students these iPads that will help bring more innovation into students' learning, and knock down barriers to the digital world.”
According to Pew Research, roughly one-third (31.4%) of households whose annual incomes fall below $50,000, and with children ages 6 to 17, do not have a high-speed internet connection at home, placing low income students at a learning disadvantage. While there are more than 4 million available jobs in science and technology, too many economically disadvantaged students are caught in the digital divide, unable to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields without access to technology and educational resources.
Superintendent Chang said partnering with the Verizon Innovative Learning Program can help schools close persistent opportunity and achievement gaps.
“All students deserve access to this essential learning and research tool. By giving our students iPads and free access to the internet, we are making great strides in bridging the digital divide,” Chang said. “Proficiency in using technology is critical for 21st-century jobs.”
Outfitting students with tablets that have full-time wifi access will allow teachers to integrate mobile technology in their lessons, and ensure that learning takes place as much outside the school setting as it does inside.
“Instruction now is not limited to the confines of the classroom, and learning does not have to stop at the bell,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael O’Neill. “It can take place in the home, on the T, or wherever students are using their mobile devices. This is critical as we look to educate the next generation of innovators, scientists, mathematicians, doctors, engineers and pioneers in the STEM fields.”
Donna Cupelo, region president for Verizon New England, explained that by providing opportunities for students to learn and use advanced technology both inside and outside the classroom, Verizon Innovative Learning is giving students the tools and immersive, hands-on learning experiences that are crucial to succeed in today’s global economy.
"By putting technology into the hands of students and educators, Verizon is providing the tools needed to build a brighter future for our students, their families and our communities," said Cupelo. "Our partnership with Digital Promise and Boston Public Schools is one example of our commitment to bridging the digital divide."
Timilty Principal T’Sheba Martin said providing students iPads will open up access to online content, lectures, learning software, and digital tools that will allow them to expand their ability to dig deeper into topics, connect with instructors, research academic journals and perform virtual science labs. The initiative will also help further the Timilty’s focus on developing 21st-century skills, including collaboration, problem solving and leadership. Each BPS school in the program has developed Student Tech Teams that are responsible for helping train fellow classmates.
“Teachers will have the ability to design more engaging, dynamic lesson plans that pull on global knowledge to support local learning,” she said. “We are also empowering our students to be tech ambassadors and teach their peers high-tech skills. These student leaders will help provide ongoing support, guidance, and leadership to their classmates.”
The hundreds of students who arrived at the Timilty Middle School to receive their free tablets also participated in interactive, hands-on learning activities aimed at bringing technology to life through sports and robotics and spark greater interest in coding and engineering.
The students had the opportunity to explore:
“Smart” connected soccer balls that allow students to measure the mathematical accuracy of their kicks by providing instant feedback on power, spin, strike and trajectory.
Sphero SPRK+ robots that teach the fundamentals of block coding by having students compete in a game of “bowling” and navigate their robots down a lane and attempt a “strike.”\
MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF SMALL BUSINESS CENTER IN EAST BOSTON
Eight small business workshops with Spanish interpretation will be offered in partnership with over a dozen business support organizations
Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Office of Economic Development have launched the Small Business Center in East Boston, beginning a seven week residence at the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library (365 Bremen St., East Boston). First launched by Mayor Walsh this past summer in Mattapan, the second installment of the Small Business Center will offer eight unique and free small small business workshops in partnership with more than a dozen leading business service organizations.
"After a successful launch in Mattapan, I am proud to have the Small Business Center open its doors in East Boston," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "Boston's small businesses and neighborhood commercial districts are the backbone of our communities, and I will continue to support entrepreneurs and small business owners with expert and streamlined guidance."
In the first installment of the Small Business Center, over 200 small business owners and entrepreneurs attended nine workshops and coaching sessions hosted by the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, and in partnership with business support organizations and experts retained through the on-site technical assistance program.
"Generating and expanding networks of opportunity is a key step in creating a healthy and thriving small business ecosystem, and the small business center will continue to reach and assist business owners and entrepreneurs in every Boston neighborhood," said John Barros, Chief of Economic Development. "We are eager to build on the positive feedback we received from the small business community and look forward to bringing a tailored and enhanced program to small businesses in East Boston and beyond."
Data shows that the businesses which most frequently attended workshops included food-based businesses, contracting companies, as well as retail and web-based businesses. Workshops that saw the most attendees were focused on access to capital, tips for operating a food-based businesses and guidance on winning public contracts.
"We are thrilled to be collaborating with the City of Boston and our local partners to be able to bring these fantastic opportunities to East Boston's small business owners," said Max Gruner, Executive Director, East Boston Main Streets. "A streamlined, central resource for small businesses is enormously helpful, and I look forward to continued work with Mayor Walsh's administration on growing the small business landscape in East Boston."
"The staff was very knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful, and the presenters were very approachable and friendly. The 1 on 1 services that were offered were very helpful and beneficial," said Yusuf Ali, of Mattapan United.
"I thought the office of Economic Development and small business development did a fantastic job providing these high-impact training and networking session, especially in areas where there is a huge number of demographics of color and immigration populations," said Leonard Tshitenge, a Poet, Speaker, Social Entrepreneur, Community/Youth Organizer.
The East Boston Small Business Center will offer eight workshops of high-impact professional training, networking and one-on-one coaching sessions beginning Thursday, October 19 through Thursday, December 7. Based on feedback from the small business community and prioritized in the City of Boston's first ever Small Business Plan, workshop topics range from leasing and legal guidance, to tips on accessing capital resources, to tailored advice for immigrant entrepreneurs. Spanish interpretation will be available for each workshop and coaching session.
About the Mayor's Office of Economic Development
The Economic Development Cabinet's mission is to make Boston an appealing and accessible place for working families, entrepreneurs, businesses, and investors to innovate, grow, and thrive in a way that fosters inclusion, broadens opportunity, and shares prosperity, thereby enhancing the quality of life for all Bostonians and the experience for all visitors. Learn more on their website.
About Boston Main Streets
Boston Main Streets provides funding and technical assistant to 20 neighborhood-based Main Streets districts throughout the City of Boston, and has served as a national model for urban areas seeking to revitalize neighborhood commercial districts including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, Detroit, New Orleans, Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Boston Main Streets continues to empower individuals in the small business sector to have a direct role in the economic health, physical appearance, and development of their own community.