Verizon And Marion Community Schools Begin Second Year of 'MarionReads'

MARION, Ohio - MarionReads, a literacy partnership matching students from four local elementary schools with volunteer tutors from area businesses, starts again this week. The partnership was created last year by Marion City Schools and Verizon Communications, the national communications company formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE.

This year more than 130 Verizon employees will serve as MarionReads tutors in fourth-grade classrooms each week at four Marion elementary schools - Fair Park, Mark, Olney and Oak.

According to Jack Kennedy, Verizon's Ohio president, MarionReads reached more than 100 fourth-graders last year through the volunteer efforts of more than 130 Verizon employees. Continuation of the program this year is demonstrative of the company's commitment - and the community's commitment - to literacy.

"MarionReads is becoming one of the premier volunteer literacy programs in Ohio," Kennedy said. "I believe this program is what Gov. Bob Taft had in mind when the OhioReads program was created...schools and volunteers working together to help our children develop the key literacy skills they need for the future."

Kennedy said he hopes the innovative program will grow, with more schools and businesses becoming involved.

"MarionReads enables the Marion community to get personally involved in the lives of our children...and to give them the help they need to be successful. I can think of no better investment in Marion's future," Kennedy said.

"We're excited about renewing this partnership with Verizon," said Dr. Robert Thiede, superintendent of Marion City Schools. "This is a great program; we see our students truly benefiting from it and we appreciate Verizon's support in helping us continue this effort."

MarionReads tutors spend one hour each week in the classroom each semester, tutoring and mentoring students one-on-one.

# # #

Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, 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 more than 100 million access line equivalents and 25.6 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com .