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Third Annual Verizon Innovative App Challenge, Designed to Spark Students' Interest in STEM, Now Open for Entries

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., Aug. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Verizon Innovative App Challenge, now in its third year, is once again calling on middle school and high school students to gather their teams, dream up ideas, and create concepts for mobile apps that could solve problems in their schools and communities.

The first two Verizon Innovative App Challenges have encouraged thousands of students to develop an interest in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM subjects, and have awarded cash grants totaling $340,000 – and 130 new tablets, courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America – to winning teams. Verizon is extending the program as part of its commitment to the Obama administration's ConnectED initiative, to which the company has pledged up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the next three years.

This year's program, which kicks off today, will name eight teams Best in Nation and reward them with cash grants of $20,000 each and new Samsung tablets for each team member. The deadline for submission is Nov. 24, and the winners will be named in January 2015.

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is a national competition created by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the Technology Student Association that challenges students to develop ideas and concepts for mobile apps. Teams are judged on whether their ideas solve challenges in their communities, include STEM principles, and are creative, unique and innovative; no coding experience or mobile devices are required to enter.  Since the contest's inception in 2012, nearly 2,300 student teams from across the U.S. have entered. Teams submitted more than 1,200 app concepts, and apps created through the contest have been downloaded more than 14,000 times.

One winning team's adviser, Maggie Bolado, a science teacher at Resaca Middle School in Los Fresno, Texas, said: "The Verizon App Challenge shows what regular kids can do if you challenge them to problem solve and believe in them. Before entering the App Challenge, I never dreamed my students would develop an app that would earn such recognition – they were even invited to the White House Science Fair and demonstrated their app in person for President Obama."

Bolado's all-girl team developed an app called Hello Navi, which assists visually impaired people in navigating inside buildings. It was inspired by the girls' blind classmate.

Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education programs for the Verizon Foundation, said: "Verizon created this program to address the critical need for more students to enter STEM fields. The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is a problem-based learning experience that fosters collaboration among students, enhances their problem solving skills, and provides an introduction to computer science. It combines a focus on STEM with other important skills, like teamwork, organization and communication, and also allows students to harness their creative talent and enthusiasm to help others in their communities."

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is open to teams consisting of five to seven students and a faculty adviser in all public, private and parochial middle schools and high schools. Winners will be chosen at three levels:

  • Best in State – One middle school and one high school team in each state will be selected as having the best app concepts. Best in State winning teams that do not advance to the next round will have access to a self-guided app-development course offered by the MIT Media Lab's App Inventor team. The course will teach the teams how to take their apps from concept to completed, user-tested apps, under the direction of each team's faculty adviser. 
  • Twenty-four Best in Region winners from the West, Midwest, South and East. Each Best in Region school will receive a $5,000 cash grant. Teams that do not advance to the final round will receive virtual training on coding and support from experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Mobile Learning @ The Media Lab to help the teams develop their app concepts.
  • Eight Best in Nation winners, selected from the pool of Best in Region teams. Best in Nation schools will receive an additional $15,000 cash grant, and each winning team member will receive a new tablet, courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America. Additionally, the MIT Media Lab will provide onsite and virtual training on coding and support to the Best in Nation teams as they develop their apps, and Verizon will help bring their apps to the Google Play store. The Best in Nation winners will present their apps in person – on their new tablets – at the 2015 Technology Student Association National Conference.

Teams can register now and learn more about the Verizon Innovative App Challenge at www.verizonfoundation.org/appchallenge.

About the Technology Student Association (TSA) 
The Technology Student Association is a national organization devoted exclusively to the needs of students engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Open to young people enrolled in or who have completed technology education courses, TSA's membership includes more than 200,000 middle and high school students in 2,000 schools spanning 48 states. TSA partners with universities and other organizations to promote a variety of STEM competitions and opportunities for students and teachers. TSA is supported by educators, parents and business leaders who believe in the need or a technologically literate society. From engineers to business managers, our alumni credit TSA with a positive influence in their lives. Visit the Technology Student Association website – www.tsaweb.org - for more information.

About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company's innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, healthcare and energy management. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon's employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.8 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information about Verizon's philanthropic work, visit www.verizonfoundation.org; or for regular updates, visit the Foundation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/verizonfoundation) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/verizongiving).

VERIZON'S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts and other information are available at Verizon's online News Center at newscenter.verizon.com.  The news releases are available through an RSS feed.  To subscribe, visit newscenter.verizon.com/corporate/feeds.

SOURCE Verizon

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