LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Verizon Foundation on Monday (May 11) announced grants totaling $635,000 to four Arkansas nonprofits supporting efforts to improve educational achievement and aid teacher training and workforce development.
"Verizon has a long-standing tradition of working to improve the communities where we operate by supporting organizations that strive to make a difference in the lives of individuals in the community," said Steven R. Smith, president - South Central region, Verizon Wireless. "Through grants and the generous contributions of time and talent from our employees, we are making a positive impact."
The organizations receiving grants, announced by Verizon Wireless at an event at Central High School in Little Rock, are:
- Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) - $250,000 to fund the creation of JAG programs within three school districts (Forrest City, Earle and Lee County) in the Delta region of Arkansas. JAG is a national program designed to keep at-risk students in school and provide work-based learning experiences that will lead to career-advancement opportunities or enrollment in post-secondary education. The grant will also fund a JAG state Executive Leadership Training Program for students.
- One Economy - $250,000 to implement One Economy's Digital Connectors program at three Delta region high schools. Through the program, students will develop leadership skills and receive technology training that provides the skills necessary to compete in today's economy. Those students will then volunteer in their communities, offering more than 6,000 hours of service.
- Arkansas Department of Education (DOE) - $100,000 to improve technology at Little Rock Central High School as well as develop a comprehensive professional-development program to train every teacher in the school to effectively integrate and use technology in the classroom. Teachers will also use the free resources on Thinkfinity.org, the Verizon Foundation's comprehensive Web site that contains thousands of educational resources - including K-12 lesson plans, online educational activities, videos and other materials - to enhance teacher effectiveness and improve student achievement.
- Arkansas Department of Education (DOE) - $35,000 to raise awareness and provide training for teachers throughout the state to use free educational resources on Thinkfinity.org, The Arkansas DOE will serve as Verizon Foundation's state partner and will make Thinkfinity's educational resources and professional development program available to all K-12 educators and college students studying to be teachers.
"The grants announced today will have a positive impact in the classrooms and communities throughout Arkansas," said Dr. Ken James, Arkansas commissioner of education. "The Arkansas Department of Education is proud to partner with Verizon on such a worthy and necessary program to ensure our teachers have the tools they need to help our students master 21st century skills."
William L. "Bill" Walker Jr., director of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Education, which oversees local JAG programs, said: "Through the Verizon Foundation's valuable support, JAG will be able to continue its important mission of reaching out to at-risk youth and taking the necessary steps to ensure that they stay in school and receive the guidance and training needed to expand their options and have a better quality of life."
Rey Ramsey, One Economy's chief executive officer, said: "With Verizon's support, young people in Arkansas will learn to use technology to improve their lives and lead in their communities. As part of this 21st-century service corps, Digital Connectors share their knowledge with their neighbors, creating a culture of technology use."
In addition to the grants outlined above, nonprofits throughout the state are eligible to receive additional support through monetary and time contributions from Verizon employees. The Verizon Foundation will match employee contributions to nonprofit organizations $1-for-$1 up to $1,000 per employee. The Verizon Foundation also supports employee volunteerism by awarding a $750 grant to a nonprofit organization when a Verizon employee volunteers 50 hours or more to the organization during the year.
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free educational Web site, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence. In 2008, the Verizon Foundation awarded more than $68 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. It also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in an additional $26 million in combined contributions to nonprofits. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 86 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations provide converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. Wireline also includes Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 237,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.