Illinois Organization Receives $40,000 Grant From Verizon

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - A dollar a month may not seem like much, but it can go a long way to improving literacy skills in local communities and giving people the opportunity to succeed.

Thanks to Verizon telephone customers in Illinois who participated in Verizon's innovative Check Into Literacy program, the Great Books Foundation received a $40,000 grant from Verizon to establish a Junior Great Books program at Eastlawn Elementary School in Rantoul.

The Check Into Literacy program allows Verizon telephone customers to support literacy by checking a box on their monthly phone bills to make a $1 tax-deductible donation to Verizon Reads, a public charity established by Verizon and committed to promoting literacy throughout the United States. Verizon Reads distributes those donations to local literacy organizations that serve the state the customers live in.

"One of the most effective tools to promote literacy arrives in your mailbox each month: your Verizon phone bill," said Philip Wood, vice president-Public Affairs, Policy and Communications at Verizon. "Verizon customers who participate in this program show how much they care about our communities through their donations, and we applaud them for it."

The Junior Great Books program to be introduced at Eastlawn Elementary School is an acclaimed reading and discussion program. The program uses outstanding literature and a proven method of interpretative discussion to help students improve reading comprehension and critical thinking. Available for students from kindergarten through grade 12, Junior Great Books has been identified as effective in improving reading and critical thinking by numerous independent organizations and agencies, including many state departments of education and the U.S. Department of Education.

"The Great Books Foundation is most grateful to Verizon for the opportunity to partner with Eastlawn Elementary School to integrate this program in the curriculum," said Steven Craig, vice president for Alliances at the Great Books Foundation. "Research shows that schools adopting the Junior Great Books program experience significant gains in their students' reading and critical thinking skills. We are excited to work with the teachers at Eastlawn to bring such impressive benefits to hundreds of their students. We also look forward to extending this initiative to serve even more students in the Rantoul community."

The Verizon grant will fully fund Great Books professional development for up to 12 teachers; a full complement of Junior Great Books books and materials, including student anthologies and activity books, audio tapes and teacher editions; and on-site follow-up support by experienced instructors from the Great Books Foundation for at least one year. For more information on Junior Great Books, visit the foundation's Web site at www.greatbooks.org.

Verizon's Check Into Literacy program has been a successful way of reaching out to the company's millions of telephone customers and increasing their awareness of and support for literacy programs. It has enabled Verizon customers to join with Verizon Reads to impact literacy programs in their communities. The program is in all Verizon markets except New York and has raised more than $4 million in customer donations since its inception in 1999. Anyone who wants to make a one-time contribution or donate more than $1 a month can go online to www.superpages.com and access the literacy donation site.

Verizon is committed to championing literacy in America. The company conducts a national campaign to increase community awareness and to generate additional funding and support for literacy programs that serve adults, children and families. Working under the banner of Verizon Reads, a public charity, the award-winning philanthropy program reaches out to the more than 40 million Americans who have low literacy skills. For more information on Verizon Reads, visit www.VerizonReads.net.

Verizon Communications Inc.

With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of 214,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.