NEW YORK - The New York City Mayor's office proclaimed June 27 as "Verizon Reads Day" at a community reading event at GirlSpace, an after-school writing center in East Harlem. The proclamation was in recognition of Verizon's ongoing effort to raise corporate and public awareness of literacy issues by supporting events such as the Verizon Academic All-American Hall of Fame and community literacy organizations such as GirlSpace's Young Women's Voices program.
The Mayor's proclamation and the GirlSpace event kicked off activities that are part of the 15th annual Verizon Academic All-American Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which takes place tonight at the Hilton New York. The day's activities emphasize that literacy builds self-confidence and provides a solid ground for success in work and life.
The reading event took place at GirlSpace, a two-year old program for teenage girls operated by Interfaith Neighbors. Girls in the program participated in a writing and read-aloud exercise led by GirlSpace's Young Women's Voices program, a creative writing group that develops girls' writing to help build their sense of self.
Joining them in the exercise were sports broadcaster Dick Enberg, NYPD Captain Susan Cassidy (who is being inducted into this year's Hall of Fame), current Academic All-America Hall of Famers Lynn Barry and Bob Elliott, and Verizon executives. The event also featured actor James Earl Jones reading two essays written by members of the Young Women's Voices program.
"Literacy is a foundation for success in life," said Mary Beth Bardin, executive vice president-Public Affairs and Communications for Verizon. "The 2002 inductees are proof that academic and athletic success can form the basis of a fulfilling life after college and beyond the arena of sports, and they offer inspiration that can feed the aspirations of youth everywhere."
Some 92 million adults in the United States - almost 48 percent of the population -- have low or very low literacy skills, according to the National Adult Literacy Survey. Recognizing the impact of this problem, Verizon has been conducting for several years a national campaign to increase public awareness of literacy issues and to generate additional funding and support for literacy programs. In 2001 Verizon contributed nearly $20 million to literacy programs nationwide.
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 133.8 million access line equivalents and approximately 29.6 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and nearly 248,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.