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Verizon Boosts CSR Efforts with Higher Investment in STEM

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U.S. telecom giant Verizon Communications Inc. VZ has decided to invest more than $200 million in additional funds in Verizon Innovative Learning. Management aims to provide immersive next generation technology, training to teachers, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum and connectivity to less privileged students across the United States. The company has invested $200 million in education with 1 million students to date.  

Over the next five years, Verizon will donate $400 million for this cause, after benefiting from the corporate tax cut, which multiplied its available cash balance. Now, the company’s objective is to double the number of in-school programs it supports from 100 to 200 middle schools by the end of 2020, starting September 2018.

On top of that, the company intends to give these schools access to 5G technology and continue programs in urban and rural communities that expose students to skill-building in augmented reality, machine learning, coding, 3D printing, etc. With such continued efforts, the company expects to reach to a total of an additional 5 million students by 2023. 

Lowell McAdam, Chairman and CEO of Verizon, said that the company is concerned about the growing chasm between those Americans who are prepared to thrive in the digital age and those who think otherwise. 

Verizon’s mission — Humanability — is directed toward giving people the ability to do more. To serve the purpose, it is of paramount importance for the organization to put in more efforts through investments in order to provide kids with the technology education and resources required to succeed.

Schools participating in Verizon Innovative Learning program receive in-depth and ongoing teacher training, curriculum guides, tablets and 4G LTE data plans. Some also receive innovation labs outfitted with the latest equipment and connectivity.  

Students in Verizon Innovative Learning programs have demonstrated increased proficiency in reading and mathematics, with the majority of them engaging more in schools.

Rose Stuckey Kirk, Verizon’s Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer said that the objective of Verizon Innovative Learning is to ensure that all children have every conceivable opportunity to be successful and make a positive impact on the world. He further added that by 2020, nearly eight in 10 jobs will require technology skills. Therefore, everyone must work together to provide the education and resources students need to realize their dream of a brighter future.

Apart from this, Verizon’s unlimited data plans have heated up the wireless industry and helped it witness an addition of 1.174 million postpaid customers in fourth-quarter 2017. Its plan to launch 5G wireless broadband services in U.S. markets in 2018 is also on track.

The company is also planning to launch a theme-based online streaming TV service in 2018, backed by the digital streaming deal with the National Football League.  Meanwhile, it continues to target the small and medium business segment with Fios TV services and boost its fiber network assets with new buyouts.

Over the last six months, the stock has outperformed the industry with an average loss of 6.2% compared with a decline of 11.3% for the telecom group as a whole.          

Verizon carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the industry are SITO Mobile, Ltd. , United States Cellular Corp. USM and NTT DOCOMO, Inc. DCM, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.            

SITO Mobile has an expected long-term earnings growth rate of 25%. 

United States Cellular has an expected long-term earnings growth rate of 1%. It has exceeded earnings estimates thrice in the trailing four quarters, with an average of 306.5%.      

NTT DOCOMO has an expected long-term earnings growth rate of 4.9%.

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