State's First Lady Launches Maine Reads On National Family Literacy Day

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine First Lady Mary Herman and Ed Dinan, president of Verizon Maine, today launched an initiative to improve literacy in the state. The announcement came in a news conference at the State House in Augusta.

Maine Reads is a collaborative, nonprofit effort founded by Verizon and the state's leading literacy service providers and educators. Maine Reads seeks to raise awareness of the issues surrounding low literacy levels in Maine, enlist badly needed volunteer tutors, and set the stage for new funding opportunities from the private sector to support literacy programs.

"I am thrilled to take an active leadership role in such an important effort to promote literacy in Maine," First Lady Mary Herman said. "Maine Reads is designed to encourage innovation and best practices among area literacy providers and to stimulate the introduction of Web-based and distance-learning programs that can reach children, families and adults in schools, in libraries, on the job or at home."

According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 92 million adults in the United States have low literacy skills. They can read but not well enough to fill out applications, understand food labels or read simple stories to their children.

"By increasing literacy skills, we're giving people the tools they need to find and keep decent jobs, support their children's education and contribute more effectively in their communities," said Ed Dinan, president of Verizon Maine. "At Verizon, we believe the ability to read, write and communicate is fundamental for success."

Maine Reads is one of many nonprofit literacy programs Verizon has championed and underwritten as part of its commitment to be America's Literacy Champion. Maine Reads' primary function is to provide funds and support to state literacy providers and educators serving Maine families, adults and children struggling with reading.

For more information about Maine Reads, visit www.mainereads.org or call 866-ME-READS.

Another Verizon literacy initiative, Check Into Literacy, gives Verizon's customers in the state a chance to support Maine Reads by making a $1 monthly donation through their phone bill. They can do so by simply checking a box on the remittance slip of their Verizon phone bill.

Anyone who is not a customer or who would like to donate more than $1 can visit Verizon's online directory, superpages.com, and contribute using a credit card. For more information about this program and other Verizon literacy initiatives, visit www.verizonreads.net.

Verizon Communications

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 135.0 million access line equivalents and 31.5 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and more than 236,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 35 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.