Verizon Gives $500,000 to Create Technology 'Clubhouse' in Ventura County

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Budding astronomers, auteurs and entrepreneurs from throughout Ventura County will soon have the chance to explore the cosmos, direct a blockbuster movie and make a breakthrough in robotic engineering, all in the same afternoon.

These opportunities - and many similar experiences in science, industry and the arts - will be possible in part because of a $500,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to the Thousand Oaks-based Discovery Center for Science and Technology.

The grant will fund creation of the Verizon Community Clubhouse, the centerpiece of the Sci-Tech Exploration Center.   The Verizon Clubhouse will feature hands-on workshops and studios filled with cutting-edge technologies, many developed in Ventura County by schools and businesses in fields such as telecommunications, biotechnology and aerospace.

"Verizon believes that we all have a responsibility to help young people acquire the technology skills they need to succeed," said Tim McCallion, president of Verizon's West region, who presented a $500,000 check to the Discovery Center Tuesday (Jan. 9) at the Thousand Oaks City Council meeting.

"A strong foundation in education, and especially technology, is essential for the well-being of our community, our workforce and our business," he said. "Verizon's investment in this exciting project today will pay handsome dividends in the future prosperity of Southern California."

The Discovery Center will spend the next two years designing the Sci-Tech Exploration Center and raising the $45 million required to build it. The Discovery Center is emphasizing adaptability and flexibility in the architecture of the Verizon Clubhouse, which the center envisions will accommodate a daily schedule of school visits, after-school youth and teen programs and adult-education courses.

"Technological and scientific literacy must become as essential to our children as the ability to read and write," said Wayne Davey, president of the Discovery Center.  "The ability to understand and respond to an increasingly complex and technological society must be a basic requirement for meeting the challenges and opportunities of the future.  Verizon is a leader in understanding the need for, and the nurturing of, such technology and scientific education."

The designers hope that the clubhouse will become a "second home" for many of the county's teenagers and young adults, who will use the facility to work on pet projects in the sciences and arts. Programs will use projects to develop important skills such as creative problem-solving, teamwork and critical-thinking skills, rather than to simply teach participants about science alone.

The ceiling of the Verizon Clubhouse will be domed to accommodate a digital planetarium projection system known as STARLAB. The Discovery Center is already using the STARLAB projector to offer planetarium shows at schools and community events, using a portable, inflatable dome, also funded by Verizon.

Since 1996, the Discovery Center has operated a Museum Without Walls, an educational outreach program now staffed by over 100 volunteers. Traveling programs such as Reading Awakens Young Scientists and Family Science Night have reached more than 110,000 people throughout Southern California.

Verizon works closely with a variety of advisory groups and nonprofit organizations to identify local needs and to develop and nurture programs that address those needs through the philanthropic support of the Verizon Foundation.

Verizon delivers technology that touches life. The Verizon Foundation uses that technology and its financial resources to improve literacy and K-12 education; help families victimized by domestic violence; and improve the delivery of health care. In 2005, the foundation awarded more than $74 million in grants to charitable and nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, which is one of the largest employee volunteer programs in the United States and responsible for 2 million hours of community service since 2000 and $35.6 million in combined contributions to nonprofits in 2005 alone.

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

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), a New York-based Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 57 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which operates one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks, and Verizon Telecom, which is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.