Verizon Foundation Announces $323,000 Literacy Grant

ALBANY, N.Y. - Urban school districts across upstate New York will benefit from a $323,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation for literacy programs. The gift was announced today by New York Lt. Gov. Mary O. Donohue and representatives of the foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, in a ceremony in Troy, N.Y.

Verizon will provide the funds to Education 21, a non-profit agency based in Troy. Education 21 will take applications from urban school districts and distribute the funds later this year in the form of one-time grants. The funding is targeted at urban school districts because they face the greatest challenge in meeting higher literacy standards and assessments.

"It is imperative that we continue to work throughout the state to help improve literacy among our children," said Lt. Gov. Donohue. "I want to thank Verizon for making this funding commitment for our students here in New York and for working nationally to support literacy efforts."

The grants will be used to purchase equipment and technology to further literacy efforts by the school districts. The funds will pay for computers for students and high-speed Internet connections in classrooms and the homes of some inner-city students.

"We have a long-standing commitment to support the use of technology to enhance educational programs," said Richard Amadon, director of community relations for Verizon in upstate New York. "Having access to computers and the Internet are essential tools for learning. They are more than a resource to improve literacy. They can provide students with the stimulation and excitement that will make them want to learn."

"This project is closely aligned with the mission of Education 21 and we are happy to serve as the grant manager in facilitating the process," said Chuck Weed, Executive Director of Education 21 Inc.

The Verizon initiative seeks to:

  • Increase student achievement in English language skills at the elementary-school level;
  • Increase availability and the use of portable computers in urban schools;
  • Strengthen the partnerships among parents, schools and private industry to integrate technology in educational programs and boost the achievement of students.

To be eligible for the funding, schools must be serving disadvantaged urban areas and be designated by the state as needing extraordinary aid because of poverty levels within their districts.

In addition to the purchase of computers and high-speed Internet access, funding will be used to buy software designed to promote literacy programs, establish activities to support these programs and support efforts to get parents more involved in their children's education. Verizon is the national communications company formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE.

Verizon Foundation supports programs that create innovative e-solutions, help bridge the digital divide, foster basic and computer literacy, help enrich our communities, and create a skilled workforce. Verizon Foundation promotes partnerships in technology with organizations serving the needs of diverse communities, people with disabilities, and the economically and socially disadvantaged.

For more information on Verizon Foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation on the Internet.

Education 21, Inc. is a nonprofit agency headquartered in Troy, with additional offices in Laguna Beach, Calif. Established in 1991, Education 21 serves educational and technology needs, primarily in New York and California educational communities. Through the expertise of eight professional staff members, managed by an executive director, Education 21 provides staff development, information services, technology programs, and evaluation consultation.