City Literacy Programs Benefit from New York Musical

NEW YORK -- "A Year With Frog and Toad," the new Broadway musical based on the award-winning books by Arnold Lobel, is donating $15,000 to NYC Reads, Verizon Communications' literacy partner in New York.

The donation comes as a result of a $1 contribution for each ticket sold to the musical during the month of May. "A Year With Frog and Toad" is currently playing at Broadway's Cort Theater, 138 West 48th St.

Mark Linn-Baker, who stars as Toad, and Jay Goede, who plays Frog, will present the contribution to Elyse Barbell Rudolph, executive director of NYC Reads, during today's matinee performance. They will be joined by Nancy Williams, director of public affairs programs for Verizon, for the check presentation that will be made before an audience that includes 500 New York City school children.

"Millions of children have learned to read by following the adventures of Frog and Toad in Lobel's timeless books," said Willaims. "Now, this delightful new musical is introducing new generations not only to the theater, but also to the joy of reading while making a generous contribution to NYC Reads, Verizon's literacy partner in the city."

Show producers Bob Boyett, Adrianne Lobel, Michael Gardner, Lawrence Horowitz and Roy Furman partnered with Verizon Reads to make "A Year with Frog and Toad" a Literacy Champion for the company. The Literacy Champions program is part of the Verizon Reads literacy awareness campaign. Verizon partners with celebrities in communities nationwide to give literacy a familiar face, bring attention to a critical issue, and raise awareness and funds for the cause of literacy.

Rudolph said that NYC Reads will use the funds to benefit adult, family and child literacy programs throughout the city. "More than 2.5 million adults in New York can't read a simple bedtime story to their child," she said. "And nearly one out of three New Yorkers has low literacy skills. Frog and Toad helps school children realize that the ability to read is a necessary part of life. I commend the producers of the show for taking this extra step and sharing proceeds of ticket sales with the community to further advance the cause of literacy."

According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 92 million adults in the U.S have low or very low literacy skills. Other studies have found that more than eight of every 20 adults with low literacy live in poverty compared to only one in 20 with strong literacy skills. Taken together, these facts indicate low literacy is both widespread and detrimental.

Most experts also believe the reality, pervasiveness and negative impact of low literacy is not as widely recognized as it should be. In part this is because vast numbers of the very people who have low literacy skills have learned to cope while hiding their struggles from friends and family. Shame and fear of ridicule are barriers that block people in need from seeking help. Building understanding of the issues surrounding low literacy is a central goal of Verizon's Literacy Champion program and is a major step toward a solution, as is raising funds to support organizations that combat low literacy with education

Through its signature program Verizon Reads, Verizon works to increase community and corporate awareness of the insidious effects of low literacy on individuals and communities. Verizon raises funds, encourages collaboration among literacy providers and promotes employee volunteerism in support of literacy programs around the country. Visit www.verizonreads.net to learn more about Verizon's commitment to literacy.

A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 136.6 million access line equivalents and
33.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third-largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with 13.2 million long-distance lines, and the company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. With approximately $67 billion in annual revenues and 227,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.