Verizon First Corporation To Join International Literacy Network, Pledges $195,000 to Support U.S. Public Service Literacy Campaign

WASHINGTON - Continuing its efforts as America's literacy champion, Verizon Communications today announced its support for two literacy initiatives and became the first private-sector corporation to join the International Literacy Network (ILN). The announcement came at a luncheon in the nation's capital marking International Literacy Day.

Verizon International, a unit of Verizon Communications, became the 21st - member of the ILN consortium by giving a $195,000 grant to help fund "Get Ready for Life," a nationwide campaign focused on building awareness in the U.S. of the worldwide low literacy problem.

Verizon also celebrated the launch of a new online tool, called America's Literacy Directory (www.literacydirectory.org), which links literacy advocates across the country. The directory, partially underwritten with $165,000 in Verizon funding, provides a comprehensive, easily accessible Web-based database of organizations so that literacy advocates, learners and volunteers can find the literacy programs and service providers in their communities.

"As a world leader in telecommunications, Verizon is committed to using technology as a powerful catalyst for positive change," said Sue Cushing, vice president - International Public Affairs for Verizon. "Bridging the literacy gap is a fundamental building block in developing strong communities and a skilled workforce."

The International Literacy Network awareness campaign initially will feature three TV public service announcements (PSAs). Print versions of the announcements carrying the "Get Ready for Life" theme also are ready to run across the country. The yearlong campaign will include a series of PSAs, which will call attention to the seriousness of low literacy worldwide and how it negatively impacts society and the economy.

Studies indicate that 885 million adults worldwide have low levels of literacy. According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 92 million adults in the U.S have low or very low literacy skills. Other studies have found more than eight of every 20 adults with low literacy live in poverty compared to only one in 20 who have strong literacy skills. Taken together, these facts indicate low literacy is both widespread and detrimental, not just in the developing world but in industrialized nations as well.

Most experts also believe the pervasiveness and negative impact of low literacy is not as widely recognized as it should be, especially in countries such as the United States that has a history of providing universal education for its citizens. In part, this is because vast numbers of people who suffer with low literacy skills have learned to cope while hiding their struggles from friends and family. Building awareness and understanding of the issues surrounding low literacy so people feel comfortable seeking help to improve their skills, therefore, is a major step towards a solution.

    ILN's members include:

  • Teachers' groups such as the International Reading Association

  • United Nations organizations such as the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank

  • U.S. organizations such as the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL)

  • Verizon, representing the private corporate sector.

A complete list of ILN members is attached.

The National Institute for Literacy created America's Literacy Directory in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor and with $165,000 in funding from Verizon, which was pledged and announced last March.

Verizon works to increase community and corporate awareness, raise funds, encourage collaboration among literacy providers and engage employees in supporting literacy programs through its signature Verizon Reads program and the Verizon Literacy Network, an innovative Web site (www.verizonreads.net) that provides literacy information and training to millions of households nationwide.

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 125 million access line equivalents and approximately 28 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with about 260,000 employees and more than $65 billion in annual 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.


The 21 organizations listed below comprise the International Literacy Network (ILN):

  • American Library Association
  • Between the Lions/WGBH
  • Center for Applied Linguistics
  • Center for the Book/U.S. Library of Congress
  • International Literacy Institute
  • International Reading Association
  • National Center for ESL Literacy Education
  • National Coalition for Literacy
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • National Institute for Literacy
  • Reach Out and Read
  • Reading is Fundamental
  • Reading Rockets/WETA
  • SIL International
  • Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Verizon Communications
  • World Bank

All share commitment to ensuring a stronger international role for literacy in human development efforts worldwide.