GTE's fight for a more literate America earns company Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership.

IRVING, Texas -- GTE's national literacy program GTE Reads today earned the telecommunications company the prestigious Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership.

The award, presented by President Clinton this afternoon during ceremonies in the White House, recognizes organizations for outstanding achievements in employee and community relations. The award is named for the late U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown.

"The positive impact that our literacy program is already having in people's lives makes me deeply proud and honored to accept this great award, named for a man who served as a role model of public service," said GTE Chairman and CEO Charles R. Lee. "Winning this award reinforces GTE's commitment to being America's literacy champion.

"I salute our employee volunteers, literacy champions, corporate partners, our colleagues and friends at the nation's leading literacy organizations and the GTE customers who have contributed to GTE Reads. Working together, I believe it's possible to achieve our ultimate goal, which is to create a 100 percent literate America in our lifetime."

Literacy Is The Skill That Unlocks Technology's Potential

To be considered for the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership, a company must show strong evidence of engaging in programs that significantly promote employee development and enhance the quality of life in cities and towns where the employees work and live.

"As a telecommunications company, we bring advanced technology into everyday lives -- through the Internet, e-commerce, wireless data, distance learning and more. But these tools go unused without the ability to take advantage of them," Lee added. "Literacy is the skill that unlocks technology's potential, and is a perfect fit with economic development, because creating jobs doesn't mean a thing if people don't have the skills to fill them. Job skills begin with literacy."

GTE has actively supported literacy through employee volunteerism and corporate contributions for nearly a decade. The company's multi-dimensional GTE Reads program was spurred by GTE's recognition that literacy is an under-addressed problem in America. The program also answers the company's need for literate, educated employees and technologically savvy customers.

Highlights Of The GTE Reads Program

GTE Reads is a comprehensive national campaign of corporate philanthropy, customer outreach, employee participation, and corporate partner collaboration. It is designed to create awareness and funding to fight low literacy in America. Nearly 40 million Americans struggle with poor literacy skills, and can benefit from this effort.

The success of GTE Reads has been significantly benefited by partnerships with national and community organizations that connect literacy providers to those in need including the National Institute for Literacy, for which GTE's Lee serves as national spokesperson; Reading Is Fundamental; National Center for Family Literacy; American Library Association; Literacy Volunteers of America, through which GTE has expanded its Family Literacy Program; Everybody Wins!; National Alliance of Urban Literacy Coalitions; Laubach Literacy Association; National Coalition for Literacy; Communities in Schools and the Communications Workers of America, a 630,000-member union providing grassroots support for GTE Reads. Motorola Corporation and 7-Eleven are national co-contributors to the GTE "Literacy Champions" program that uses local celebrities as role models. Representatives from many of these organizations attended today's ceremonies in Washington as guests of GTE.

"Check Into Literacy" Enables Customers To Make Donations Via Phone Bill, Internet

In addition, GTE has taken the lead in a national literacy awareness campaign by implementing an innovative fund-raising initiative, called "Check Into Literacy," which allows GTE's 21 million customers to donate $1 per month to literacy by checking a box on the payment remittance slips in their monthly GTE bills. Once customers have done so, the donation remains on their monthly bills as a line item.

Additionally, GTE customers and others can support literacy by making donations via the company's SuperPages.com website, located at http://www.superpages.com. All funds collected through "Check Into Literacy" and the SuperPages.com website go to GTE Reads, and are then distributed to qualified local and national literacy providers. The GTE Foundation will match the first $1 million raised from these efforts.

Other key elements of GTE's campaign include the recruitment of well-known sports figures and celebrities such as Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, Dallas Cowboy Daryl Johnston, Tampa Bay Devil Ray Wade Boggs and cookie entrepreneur Wally Amos as "literacy champions." GTE's campaign also includes scholarships, literacy events, a customer-focused media campaign and Season's Readings, a holiday program during which GTE employees read books to youth, plus collect and donate children's books to Reading Is Fundamental. Additional information about GTE's literacy program is available online at http://www.gtereads.org.

The Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership is sponsored and managed by The Conference Board, a non-partisan, not-for-profit research and business membership organization. Other winners of this year's award, selected by a blue-ribbon panel of judges, include General Mills, Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corporation and US WEST for programs involving inner-city job growth, education and diversity.

About GTE

With 1999 revenues of more than $25 billion, GTE is a leading telecommunications provider with one of the industry's broadest arrays of products and services. In the United States, GTE provides local service in 28 states and wireless service in 18 states, as well as long-distance, directory, and internetworking services ranging from dial-up Internet access for residential and small-business consumers to Web-based applications for Fortune 500 companies. Outside the United States, the company serves customers on five continents. Additional information about GTE can be obtained at http://www.gte.com.

GTE's community and philanthropic programs target excellence in education, particularly math, science, technology and literacy. GTE also supports job training, delivery of health and human services, and the arts. The company's newest program is GTE Reads, a public charity designed to create public awareness, increase fundraising and support organizations dedicated to improving America's literacy levels. GTE customers can contribute to GTE Reads by checking off a box on their bill. Others can contribute through Superpages.com from GTE at http://www.superpages.com.

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