Will Packer Teams Up With Verizon to Provide Summer Tech Classes and Year-round Mentorship for Young Black Men

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21:  Executive producer Will Packer from "Roots" poses at the Tribeca Film Festival Getty Images Studio on April 21, 2016 in New York City. (PHOTO CREDIT: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival)
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 21: Executive producer Will Packer from “Roots” poses at the Tribeca Film Festival Getty Images Studio on April 21, 2016 in New York City. (PHOTO CREDIT: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival)

Verizon is creating opportunities for male minorities through their Innovative Learning program. In their latest initiative, the company is providing summer tech classes and year-round mentorship for young Black men in grades six through nine. The aim is “to inspire them to pursue STEM careers” and challenge minority stereotypes.

From Verizon:

“The young men learn entrepreneurship, coding, app development, 3D design and robotics in summer classes on campus at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic serving institutions (HSIs) and continue working with mentors during the school year. Verizon Innovative Learning challenges stereotypes and demonstrates the great things young men of color can do for the world when they have access to technology and education. We are helping them deliver on the promises they make to themselves. #youdontknowme”

Supporting the initiative is Ride Along 2 producer Will Packer, who believes “a core competency in technology” is essential to success in today’s world. We briefly chatted with Packer at the 2016 ESSENCE Festival this weekend to talk about his involvement and why he’s excited to be a part.

TUD: You’re doing some exciting things with Verizon. Tell us more about that.

WILL PACKER: This is actually not the first year that I’ve worked with Verizon. I’m very pleased to be a part of the Verizon activation here at ESSENCE for multiple years because they’re innovators. Obviously they’re one of the biggest technology companies in the world; with that comes not only opportunity, but a responsibility, and I enjoy the fact that Verizon has accepted that responsibility and they reach out to minority and underserved communities. They have a program right now that they’ve just been talking to me about that I’m very excited [about]. It’s the Verizon Innovative Learning program, and it is reaching out to Black males specifically. There are a lot of programs out there for women, for people of color in general, but when you think about Black males specifically, which, obviously, you know, I grew up as one, I know that there is a stigma attached to overachieving technology areas — but that, in 2016, is the only path to success — not one of the paths, not an important path — the only path to success. You have to have a core competency in technology in order to be successful in today’s world, so that’s what excites me about being a part of a program with a company that recognizes value in that demographic.

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SOURCE: The Urban Daily, Stephanie Long