Mississippi Children's Museum Receives $20,000 Boost From Verizon Foundation

JACKSON, Miss. - The capital campaign to raise funds for the construction of the Mississippi Children's Museum received a $20,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation Tuesday (Jan. 9), to be used for one of the seven interactive features that will be a part of the museum's Wild About Reading literacy gallery.

Wild About Reading will be one of five major galleries in the museum and will provide visitors with entertaining ways to improve literacy skills during any museum visit and thereafter.  Information about literacy and personal health and nutrition, ongoing challenges for Mississippi, will be woven throughout the five main areas of the museum. 

"Improving literacy skills continues to be a challenge for America, particularly in Mississippi, so we are pleased that Verizon will be a partner in helping us meet that challenge," said John Jordan, executive director, Mississippi Children's Museum.  "This grant from Verizon will help us develop a specific area in the Wild About Reading gallery that will provide a format to reach children early and often with creative approaches to reading that both improve skills and make children want to continue reading."

The gallery area to be funded by the Verizon grant will be determined at a later date.

Verizon is one of America's leaders in the fight to improve literacy skills.  Education and literacy in the 21st century is one of three primary areas of interest for the Verizon Foundation. The other two are family safety in the 21st century and employee engagement.

"Verizon is looking forward to our partnership with the Children's Museum," said Brian Sulmonetti, Verizon's director, public policy for the Southern region.  "We believe literacy is one of the basic building blocks for success - if you can read, you can learn anything and do anything.  So we are honored to be a part of the Wild About Reading gallery and the museum's efforts to improve literacy rates in Mississippi."

The seven activity areas in the Wild About Reading gallery include: a puppet theater that features characters from the PBS children's TV show "Between the Lions" and a giant Scrabble game; Write a Headline, which will let visitors create newspaper headlines; the Action Verb Gym; the Eudora Welty Storytelling Porch, highlighting one of Mississippi's most revered writers; and a Pop-up Book section.

The capital campaign for the construction of the museum has thus far raised more than $13 million of the goal of $22 million.  Groundbreaking is scheduled for late this summer at LaFleur's Bluff State Park.

Verizon delivers technology that touches life. The Verizon Foundation uses that technology and its financial resources to improve literacy and K-12 education; help families victimized by domestic violence; and improve the delivery of health care. In 2005, the foundation awarded more than $74 million in grants to charitable and nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, which is one of the largest employee volunteer programs in the United States and responsible for 2 million hours of community service since 2000 and $35.6 million in combined contributions to nonprofits in 2005 alone.

For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), a New York-based Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 57 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which operates one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks, and Verizon Telecom, which is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.