Verizon Foundation to Award $245,898 in the Puget Sound Region

EVERETT, Wash. - The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, will award $245,898 in literacy grants this week to 21 nonprofit organizations serving the Puget Sound region.

"These grants reaffirm Verizon's commitment to invest in communities we serve as a telecommunications company," said Steve Banta, group president for Verizon's Southwest/Northwest region. "They support projects that will improve reading and computer skills and improve technology and the delivery of services for nonprofit organizations."

Verizon issued literacy, technology and work force grant requests-for-proposals earlier this year to nonprofit organizations. Winners were chosen based on community need, innovation, ability to execute, community impact, evaluation methods and other factors.

Banta added that the overriding goal of the RFPs was to focus on projects that link improved literacy rates to a better-educated, technology-savvy and better-prepared work force.

    The grants will be distributed Wednesday, June 23, in Lynnwood. Recipients include:

  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, based in Everett, will use a $15,000 grant to help build technology centers at the Lake Stevens and Snohomish clubs. Each center will be equipped with 10 new desktop computers, printers, software, Web cam access and file-sharing capabilities. The centers are valuable components of the after-school career programs.

  • Evergreen State College, in Olympia, will use a $24,999 grant to provide scholarships for Native American students from Verizon service areas with an interest in tribal business-management degrees.

  • Foundation for Educational Achievement, based in Everett, will receive a $15,000 grant to support the IDEAS Summer Camp in engineering and science for 8th and 9th grade students in Snohomish County. Special emphasis will be placed on recruiting female and minority students.

  • Friends of Arlington Library, in cooperation with Sno-Isle Regional Library System in Marysville, will use its $3,000 grant to support the library system's summer reading program. The program encourages students to continue reading throughout the summer to help retain skills learned during the past school year. As an incentive to read, tickets to Summer Reading Nights at the Everett Aquasox are provided to children participating in the program.

  • Hopelink, based in Redmond, will receive $15,000 for its Working English-2 program, which helps Eastside residents, who are English Language Learners (ELL) students gain skills to enter the work force. Citizenship classes are also offered, and emphasis is placed on giving back to the community, once participants become citizens. Curriculum is tailored to various employers to help immigrant workers function safely and effectively on the job.

  • Housing Hope, based in Everett, will use a $10,000 grant to purchase computers and peripherals for the College of Hope computer lab. The program helps homeless adults gain necessary workplace skills.

  • Humanities Washington, based in Seattle, will receive a $5,500 grant to fund training of additional Mother Read/Father Read family literacy instructors in Wenatchee, Wash. In addition, 300 books will be distributed to families in need.

  • Husky Fever, Based in Seattle, will use a $5,000 grant for its Verizon Reads with the Huskies program, which encourages youth in kindergarten through the 8th grade to read and continuously improve their reading skills. Participants are rewarded with free tickets to selected Husky men's and women's basketball games. Nearly 150 schools and more than 30,000 students are involved in the program.

  • Intergenerational Innovations, based in Seattle, will receive a grant of $8,500 for a program that connects children and elders to increase the literacy skills of both through reading, writing and speaking English.

  • Lynden Middle School will use a $6,500 grant to expand the Accelerated Reader Programs for 6th grade students and ELL students. Funds will purchase non-fiction books and quizzes and provide an advanced reader program geared toward the ELL classes.

  • Meridian School District, based in Bellingham, will use a $9,500 grant for its project-based literacy programs. Non-fiction books and reference materials will be purchased for the school library. The goal is to create workplace-ready students, capable of research-based content reading.

  • Mukilteo Schools Foundation will use a $9,500 grant to build a multi-cultural and primary-language library for the district's English Language Learners. This population has recently increased by 40 percent.

  • Powerful Partners, based in Lynnwood, will receive a $9,900 grant to train and place tutors in member schools within Verizon service areas. The goal is to bring students, now performing below standards, up to or above standards.

  • Sea-Mar Community Health Centers, based in Seattle, will use a $3,000 grant for their Reach Out and Read program, which promotes early literacy by making books and reading standard for pediatric care. Volunteers, including some Verizon employees, will read to children in the clinic's Marysville waiting room. In tandem with this activity, doctors will encourage parents to read aloud to their children, starting at an early age. Each child between the ages of 6 months and 5 years will be given a new book at their annual well child visit.

  • Skagit County Community Action Agency, based in Mount Vernon, will receive a $9,500 grant for an expansion of its Workplace Literacy English as a Second Language project. Classes will provide English language skills specific to the workplace, with common goal-setting activities between students and their participating employers. The agency's goal this year is to add four more employers to the program.

  • South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, based in Lynnwood, will use its $9,999 grant to develop a Web site. The organization's goal is to communicate with, educate and connect members in eight communities while providing links to resources needed by the business community.

  • United Way of Island County, based in Oak Harbor, will use its $5,000 grant to fund literacy programs for children of low-income families. Using the Raising A Reader products, preschoolers in the ECEAP and Head Start programs will be targeted. Parents and caregivers will be encouraged to read to children. The program will expand to children in kindergarten.

  • University of Washington Foundation, Seattle, will receive a grant of $20,000 to help minority-owned contracting firms grow through improved marketing and business and financial management skills. In partnership with Verizon and Turner Construction, the Business Education and Development Program (BEDP) will place undergraduate students as interns in 20 companies that have completed the Turner School of Construction Management. Interns will assist the companies in completing marketing plans, developing marketing materials, implementing accounting systems, and improving office and employee management systems in order to increase efficiency.

  • Volunteers of America Western Washington, based in Everett, will use a $6,000 grant to take the Words Travel literacy program to inmates at Monroe Reformatory. The program strengthens the bond between parents and their children through reading. Parents, many with limited reading skills, read age-appropriate books onto tape for their children. The children are given the books on tape, along with backpacks and Walkmans. Special, literacy-focused visits will be held at the correctional facility.

  • Washington Information Network 2-1-1, based in Seattle, will use its $35,000 grant for a benefit study to provide the data needed to secure state financial support for the 2-1-1 project. Once implemented, this system will provide an efficient means of service delivery by referrals to appropriate nonprofit and state agencies.

  • Washington Policy Center, based in Seattle, will use a grant of $20,000 for its 2004 Small Business Project. Included are four issue-forums, a public education component and a plan for working with policy-makers to improve the health of small businesses in the state.

In 2003, the Verizon Foundation awarded more than 21,000 grants totaling about $70 million to charitable and nonprofit agencies that focus on improving basic and computer literacy, enriching communities through technology, and creating a skilled work force. The foundation uses its resources in the United States and abroad to develop partnerships in technology and connect them with organizations serving the needs of diverse communities, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, and the economically and socially disadvantaged.

The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, an incentive program that last year encouraged Verizon employees to volunteer 595,000 hours in their communities and provided $34.6 million in combined contributions to charitable and nonprofit organizations. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

Verizon Communications

A Dow 30 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $68 billion in annual revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.