Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Black Foundation Gets Funding From Verizon to Bring Virtual Reality into the Classroom

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Los Angeles, CA  Verizon has selected the Baron Jay Foundation and GRX Immersive Labs for a grant as part of their Verizon Innovative Learning initiative.

The Baron Jay Foundation, committed to increasing computer literacy in at-risk youth, partnered with VR company GRX Immersive Labs to offer immersive education through Virtual Reality storytelling. By exposing youth in underserved communities to innovative digital technology, the collaborative will be preparing these students for a wide range of careers in STEM.

STEM is the new frontier, revolutionizing business and the world as we know it. Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (and Art) will soon serve as the core base for a majority of careers, drawing talent from all around the world. In the United States, there is a critical need to ensure our educational systems fully prepare today's students to thrive in tomorrow's fast-paced, tech-driven economy. Unfortunately, not all schools are created equal.

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Learning institutions need adequate resources to offer a quality education. The antiquated system of school funding (based primarily on property tax) leaves school administrators in rural, inner-city, and economically disadvantaged districts choosing between capital repairs to maintain their building's infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment. More often, in these instances, investments in technology are sacrificed.

This presents a challenge when interactive applications on mobile phones and tablets already keep preschoolers and toddlers engaged in learning with storyboards, lights, sounds, and animation. Very small children have the capacity to become immersed in the technology and can operate these devices themselves almost instantly. It then becomes the responsibility of educators to meet children at this level of cognitive learning, keep them engaged, challenged, and tap into their potential. That objective becomes even more difficult when their interests evolve to video games where heightened, three- dimensional graphics are set to hypnotic sound compositions.

When schools in underserved communities have outdated equipment and are unable to invest in newer technology, this does a disservice to students. Our future workforce would be placed at a disadvantage, amid highly-skilled talent in the new global economy. Fortunately, through initiatives like Verizon Innovative Learning and funding to organizations like the Baron Jay Family Foundation, we are able to facilitate programs that introduce students to coding, augmented and virtual reality, and other marketable, high-tech skills.

"Kids cannot be what they can't see. Now, with the advancement of immersive technologies, they can see the possibilities. Not only can they see the possibilities, but they can also interact and experience what it is like to be a pilot, engineer, or filmmaker right on the virtual set of a major Hollywood movie. We call this Experiential Learning," says Baron Jay Littleton, founder of the Baron Jay Family Foundation.

About The Baron Jay Family Foundation, Inc.
The Baron Jay Family Foundation [BJF], Incorporated, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes practical life-skills, anger management, academic excellence, career development, diversity in technology, and financial wellness in economically distressed and underserved communities. They facilitate workshops in poverty- stricken areas and sponsor free programs in computer skill development and English literacy in both the United States and underdeveloped regions of the world such as West Central Africa. Through their workshops, BJF works to bridge the economic gap, help improve each individual's quality of life, allowing them to become more responsible, civic-minded, and also thrive as citizens.

In September of 2018, the Baron Jay Family Foundation was inducted into the Black Business Hall of Fame. The BJF organization's work with award-winning filmmaker Alton Glass, co-founder of creative technology studio GRX Immersive Labs to bring VR immersive, story-driven media to classroom instruction. All programs are made possible through grants from corporations like Verizon, Disney, and CIT/One West Bank along with the support of donations from individuals, corporate and community sponsorship. BJF has a five-year partnership to bring curriculum to the Los Angeles Unified School District [LAUSD], the most extensive public school system in the state of California and the 2nd largest in the United States.

For more information about the Baron Jay Family Foundation, visit

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Posted by community events coordinator, Nzinga Lonstein Austin, is a prolific blogger who writes on the entertainment industry and issues for people with developmental and physical challenges.

She is presently in high school looking to have a career in video, film, and media. You can see more of her entertainment writing on Lonstein Movies.

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