To ensure that today’s students are armed with the resources and knowledge that will make them successful, the BellSouth Foundation announced a new e-Learning initiative, BellSouth’s 20/20 Vision for Education.

The $20 million initiative is designed to bring engaging, rigorous, online instruction to students throughout the Southeast – particularly low-income and minority students – to address the growing achievement gap and increase graduation rates.

BellSouth’s investment will commemorate the Foundation’s 20 year commitment to supporting education improvement and reform in the region. The $20 million will be spent over five years on support for state-led virtual schools and technology based learning. In addition, the initiative includes a robust volunteer strategy that will harness the talent and expertise of BellSouth’s 100,000 volunteers to accelerate the work in this new focus area.

Key partners in BellSouth’s 20/20 Vision for Education initiative include state-led virtual schools, the Southern Regional Education Board, One Economy and others. In addition, BellSouth has partnered with the National Governors Association in an effort to improve high schools by promoting online learning as a viable tool to close the achievement gap and improve graduation rates.

By the Numbers:

Nationally, only 50 percent of African-American, Latino and Native American students earn high school diplomas. Graduation rates for minorities are even lower in the South, where the graduation rate is well below 50 percent, according to – The Civil Rights Project – Harvard University, “Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis in the South”, 2005

“The need to address the graduation rates in our nation’s high schools is paramount,” continued Anderson. “We believe that e-Learning can be an important strategy to help improve our high school drop out rates and turn the dismal statistics around.”

In an effort to improve student achievement, BellSouth will also work to expand access by supporting efforts to provide affordable technology options to low-income students and their families, allowing them to take advantage of virtual courses and other e-Learning opportunities.