James Earl Jones, Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and Volunteers in Providence Schools Announce Return of Popular Reading Program to Providence

James Earl Jones, Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and Volunteers in Providence Schools Announce Return of Popular Reading Program to Providence

Summer Readings in the Park Series Introduced

June 20, 2000


Stephanie Hobbs/Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages,

Karen Gregory/Volunteers in Providence Schools,

Diane Buben/The Tierney Group,

Providence, R.I. - Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and Volunteers in Providence Schools (VIPS) today announced the return of the BOOKPASS program, a reading initiative that encourages students to read. The partners also introduced "Reading Together," a summer reading in the parks series. In celebration, students from the Broad Street Elementary School in Providence gathered inside the Roger Williams Park Casino to hear actor and Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages spokesperson, James Earl Jones, read Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears with his resounding voice.

Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages announced its commitment to support the BOOKPASS program and "Reading Together" with a $27,000 grant. This support makes the programs possible and provides access to the resources which are necessary to expand. This is the second year Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages will sponsor the BOOKPASS program.

"Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages is happy to support the Providence community once again and continue the BOOKPASS program," said Mary Jo Howe, vice president, Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages. "The success of this program means more children are reading, obtaining access to books and, as a result, improving their lives. Positive feedback from our community partners means so much to our organization since literacy is a corporate-wide mission for Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages."

The BOOKPASS program, successfully launched last year in the Providence School District, was created to motivate and encourage children within the Providence School District to read, as well as develop a love of books. The BOOKPASS program includes a kit used by teachers to encourage reading. The kit includes books, literacy activities, a passbook for students and stickers. VIPS also provides trained volunteers to work with the students. Children will be rewarded with a sticker after reading a book, and after collecting all eight stickers, each will receive a free book.

The BOOKPASS program is unique in that it provides teachers with reading help for grades K-3, through practice, access to books and various activities that are needed to excite the children about reading. Last year's program was conducted in 10 schools with a total of 27 classrooms, and provided more than 750 children with the opportunity to participate.

"Teachers from the Providence School District have raved about the BOOKPASS program," said Terri Adelman, executive director, Volunteers in Providence Schools. "After a year, we were able to analyze the program and recommend how to expand it by adding more cultural diversity and activities that encourage dialogue, writing and creative movement. With this grant, we can continue to spread enthusiasm for reading."

Additionally, Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages and Volunteers in Providence Schools (VIPS) will sponsor "Reading Together" a series of readings in Roger Williams Park Casino every Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. throughout the summer. Prominent members of the Providence community will participate as readers, beginning June 28. This program complements the BOOKPASS program by encouraging children to read during the summertime, when students usually regress if learning is not reinforced.

The Honorable Vincent A. Cianci, Jr., Mayor of Providence, was also on hand to celebrate the two valuable reading programs. He has been a strong supporter of the BOOKPASS program and the literacy efforts of VIPS and Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages.

Improving literacy within the community is an ongoing effort for Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages. Local literacy programs throughout Bell Atlantic communities are able to thrive through the donation of time and resources. Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages includes literacy messages in its local directories, donating more than $400,000 in advertising messages on literacy in the Providence area directory alone.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With nearly 44 million telephone access lines and 12 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and one of the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.

Volunteers in Providence Schools (VIPS) is a 34 year old educational agency that gives students the opportunity to succeed in school by providing them with extra academic help and enrichment activities.