THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -Wheel of Fortune co-host Vanna White has agreed to serve as Verizon's Literacy Champion for California. The announcement coincides with the start of Wheel of Fortune's NFL week of programs featuring NFL athletes, including another Verizon Literacy Champion, New York Giant Tiki Barber.
The Literacy Champion program is part of the Verizon's literacy awareness campaign, Verizon Reads. Verizon partners with athletes and celebrities in communities nationwide to give literacy a familiar face, bring attention to a critical issue and raise awareness and funds for the cause of literacy.
"I was inspired by reading to my two young children," White said. "By partnering with Verizon, I am able to help spread the message that literacy is important to both individual success and the success of our communities."
According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 92 million adults in the United States have low or very low literacy skills. Other studies have found that more than eight of every 20 adults with low literacy live in poverty compared to only one in 20 with strong literacy skills.
Most experts also believe the pervasiveness of low literacy is not as widely recognized as it should be, in part because vast numbers of the people who have low literacy skills have learned to hide their struggles from friends and family while they cope with life. Shame and fear of ridicule are barriers that block people in need from seeking help to increase their literacy. Building understanding of the issues surrounding low literacy and encouraging everyone in need to ask for help is a central goal of Verizon's Literacy Champion program and is a major step towards a solution, as is raising funds to support organizations that combat low literacy with education.
"We're proud to have one of the most recognizable faces on television serve as Verizon's Literacy champion for California," said Verizon Pacific Region President Tim McCallion. "We are excited about this partnership and believe that together, we can help win the fight against low literacy."
White has co-hosted Wheel of Fortune since 1982. The show is the No. 1 rated program in syndication, a position it has held since February 1984.
Verizon is committed to being America's Literacy Champion. The Verizon Literacy Champion program was established in 1998. It has raised millions of dollars for literacy programs across the country and created awareness about the importance of the cause. Verizon Reads is a comprehensive national campaign of corporate philanthropy, customer outreach, employee participation and corporate partner collaboration. It is designed to reach nearly 92 million Americans who have serious problems with literacy. Anyone can become a literacy champion by donating to Verizon Reads at www.verizonreads.net. Donations are distributed to local and national literacy organizations. Verizon Foundation, Verizon's philanthropic arm, gave $1.7 million to literacy programs in California last year and more than $10 million to promoting literacy 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 128.5 million access line equivalents and 28.7 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with 256,000 employees and approximately $65 billion in annual revenues, 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.