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Verizon Is Spending Part of Its Tax Cut to Boost STEM Education

April 2, 2018, 2:39 PM UTC

Verizon Communications, among the biggest beneficiaries of the corporate tax cut this year, said it would double its commitment to fostering science, technology, and engineering education (STEM) in schools that lack such resources.

The telecom giant will donate $400 million over the next five years, up from a previous commitment of $200 million, after the tax cut multiplied its available cash. The larger effort will now support 200 middle school STEM programs by 2020 and aim to reach 5 million students with free technology resources, teacher training, STEM curricula, and connectivity.

Verizon asked for public nominations of middle schools to take part in the program. This can be done via Twitter posts directed at @verizon with the hashtag #Humanability.

“Verizon has become increasingly concerned about the chasm between those Americans who are prepared to thrive in the digital age, and those who are not,” CEO Lowell McAdam said in a statement. “Our mission, which we call ‘Humanability,’ is to give people the ability to do more in this world—that’s why it’s paramount we invest to give kids the technology education and resources they need to succeed.”

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While Verizon’s resources are offered to millions of students and teachers, the selected 200 schools also get in-school labs with gear to teach skills related to augmented reality, machine learning, computer coding, and 3-D printing.

The tax cut plan approved last year will have a disproportionate impact on Verizon because almost all of the company’s revenue comes from inside the United States. It was not able to take advantage of the common tax reduction strategies used in the tech and pharmaceutical industries, among others, under the old, higher tax rate. The reduction in the basic rate to 21% from 35% will increase Verizon’s cash flow by $3.5 billion to $4 billion this year alone.

Verizon (VZ) has previously announced that it would pay employee bonuses via grants of restricted stock worth over $2,000 each due to the tax legislation.