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Verizon Innovative Learning Young Men of Color Program

Directed by Tuskegee University

VIL Program at TU

Tuskegee University is partnering with Verizon for an entrepreneurship and tech innovation program for minority males in Alabama as part of their Verizon Innovative Learning Program. This Verizon Innovative Learning Program is a two-year program that is the first-of its-kind to give minority boys in middle school access to high-level technology and entrepreneurship skills. The program includes hands-on, interactive instruction and mentors. The program takes on a two prong approach, kicking off with a three week summer program where students participate in all-day technology classes on college campuses, followed by monthly sessions with mentors and instructors one weekend day per month throughout the academic year.

Minority males are severely underrepresented in STEM fields and are less likely than Caucasian peers to graduate from high school on time and pursue college. In recent years much more attention has been paid to empowering girls in these subject areas, but very few programs exist that specifically work with boys to spark their interests in STEM disciplines. Verizon identified this need and created a new program to focus specifically on minority middle school boys, giving them an opportunity for a bright future in these high demand fields.

Applications for teaching assistants/mentors (undergraduate and graduate students) and program instructors (middle and high school educators) for the 2021 summer program are now being accepted. Find out more in Join Our Team  section below.


The Verizon Innovative Learning program for minority males launched in 2015 at four HBCU campuses (Jackson State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Morgan State University, and Kentucky State University) and has expanded since that time to also include Tuskegee University along with several other colleges and university across the US.

In its first year, which engaged 473 middle school boys, 100% of students increased mobile technology proficiency, 75% increased interest in STEM subjects and 69% increased interest in STEM careers. Students also developed 582 products. This data was collected through pre- and post-test surveys administered to the students and surveys of their instructors.


Beginning 2018, Tuskegee University aims to engage 200 middle school boys to participate in the program over a two year period (100 participants each year). Program participants will receive mentors and technology instruction throughout the summer and have ongoing support from mentors and instructors during the school year. The program is free to students; learn more about becoming a part of this program in How to Apply ​section below.  The VIL program at Tuskegee University is a collaborative program between the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences and the Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science.

HOW TO APPLY (Youth Participants)

Applications for the 2021 Summer Program are now available ONLINE. Applicants are encouraged to complete the online application; however, alternative formats are available upon request. Supplemental documents may be faxed (334-727-8552), emailed ( or mailed (VIL Program; Tuskegee University; 205 Mary Starke Harper Hall; Tuskegee, AL 36088) to program staff. The program seeks 100 male participants who will enter grades 6, 7, or 8 as of August 2021. The 2021 Summer Program will be held July 5 – July 23, 2021

***Applications are now available; see below!!!***

Supplemental Document(s):

A) One Page Handwritten Essay on Lined Notebook Paper – Applicants should indicate his educational goals and reason for desiring to participate in this program.
B) One (1) reference form (electronic or hardcopy) – It should be completed by a teacher, counselor or community leader; family members are not valid references.

2021 Flyer COMING SOON!


Applications for TEACHING ASSISTANTS (undergraduate and graduate students), MENTORS (high school, undergraduate, and graduate students) and PROGRAM INSTRUCTORS (middle and high school educators) for the 2021 Summer Program are now being accepted. All selected instructors and teaching assistants will be required to take part in the VIL Teacher Workshop section below


The VIL program is happy to host a workshop that introduces Alabama teachers to the integration of 3D modeling/printing, coding, and augmented/virtual reality into the design and creation of a physical product as a part of the design thinking process for the K-12 classroom. Participants will be eligible to receive up to 2 continuing education units (CEUs).  This workshop is open to all interested educators; however, individuals interested in serving as an instructor for the VIL Program (summer and/or academic year) are required to attend this workshop. The 2021 VIL Teacher Workshop will be held June 28-30, 2021. Deadline for applications are June 18, 2021. For more information, please contact us at


Tuskegee University Leadership Team

  • Olga Bolden-Tiller, Principal Investigator/Program Director
  • Christopher Allen, Student Program Assistant
  • Tiffani Williams, Program Assistant 

Contact Information

Tuskegee University
105 Mary Starke Harper Hall
Tuskegee, AL 36088
Tel: (334) 727-8453
Fax: (334) 727-8552




A special thanks to the Verizon Foundation. Without Verizon, none of this would be possible. Verizon offers this program, Verizon Innovative Learning, in order to better minority males and increase their quality and quantity in STEM.

Tuskegee University welcomes other sponsors and partners interested in helping scale this program.  For more information, please contact Olga Bolden-Tiller at

FAQs (Some my not apply if program is virtual.)

  1. If my child participates in the summer camp, must he participate in the Saturday program held during the academic year? We strongly encourage all summer camp participants to take part in not only the summer camp, but also the Saturday activities during the academic year for maximum benefit. Students who fail to actively participate in program activities will be replaced by interested persons on the waiting list.
  2. Are refreshments provided?  Yes, on all program days, a meal and snack will be provided to all participants.
  3. Is there a cost for this program?  This is a free program.
  4.  Is Transportation Provided? Transportation is available (limited).
  5. If Virtual, will I need to supply my own equipment or Tablet? A limited number of devices will be available to loan to participants in need.


This page is under construction, but in the meantime, please visit the VLI Program at Morgan State University’s resources site.


The College of Agriculture, Environment, and Nutrition Sciences (CAENS) in collaboration with the College of Business and Information Sciences at Tuskegee University are proud to partner with the Verizon Foundation to launch the VIL program in Alabama beginning 2018.

Please click the links below to find out more about the two colleges.


Tuskegee University has various summer program for K-12 youth. CLICK HERE for more information.