Verizon Pledges Volunteers, $200,000 Grant to Support Reading Program for Hispanic Elementary Students

NEW YORK - A nationwide reading program for Hispanic children is getting a major shot in the arm from Verizon and a group of the company's Hispanic employees.

The employees, all members of Verizon's Hispanic Support Organization (HSO), will volunteer around the country in support of the program, and Verizon Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm, is providing a $200,000 grant for the program.

At a kickoff event at 10 a.m. tomorrow (March 22), HSO members and officials of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) will read to elementary school students at Public School 145 at 150 W. 105th St. in Manhattan.

Verizon's grant will support "Young Readers," a literacy program that encourages community reading. The program is run by LULAC's National Education Service Center (LNESC).

Tomorrow's event will kickoff ongoing support for the program from Verizon's Hispanic employees who will read to children and conduct local book drives in their communities.

"I can think of no better way to support Verizon's literacy efforts than to partner with Young Readers," said Gail Cardona, HSO president and a Verizon employee. "Young Readers' mission coincides with our member's goal to support communities on a personal and professional level."

The Young Readers program is designed to improve a student's ability to read, and that in turn strengthens communication and builds strong relationships between families, schools and communities. The program encourages children in first through third grades to make reading a life-long habit and includes entertaining activities that encourage the joy of learning.

"Verizon's continued support of our Young Readers program and LULAC's National Education Service Center demonstrates the company's clear commitment to literacy and the Hispanic community," said LNESC Executive Director Richard Roybal. "The funds Verizon is providing will provide educational opportunities for Hispanic children and other disadvantaged students and the pledge of volunteer support from Verizon's Hispanic employees is especially invaluable."

In recent years, similar grants from Verizon to Young Readers have helped more than 400 elementary school students improve their reading skills.

"The cause of literacy is receiving a tremendous boost from Verizon's Hispanic Employee Organization and its members who are supporting our company's commitment to be America's literacy champion," said Oscar C. Gomez, vice president diversity and business compliance for Verizon. "Their commitment will be an inspiration to others to get involved in the effort to improve literacy nationwide - to make a difference by reading to a child, donating a book or encouraging someone struggling with low literacy skills to seek help."

Established in 1988, HSO provides Verizon's Hispanic employees with opportunities to develop professional skills, improve the communities in which they live and support the company's initiatives in the Hispanic community.

Verizon is committed to improving literacy levels nationwide. In 1999, the company launched Verizon Reads - a comprehensive national campaign involving corporate philanthropy, community outreach, employee participation and collaboration with major literacy organizations. For more information visit www.verizonreads.net or call 1-877-483-READ.

Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to helping people and communities make progress every day. The foundation supports a variety of programs that focus on improving basic and computer literacy, bridging the digital divide, enriching communities through technology and creating a skilled work force. The foundation promotes partnerships in technology with organizations serving the needs of diverse communities, people with disabilities, and the economically and socially disadvantaged. The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, an incentive program that encourages Verizon employees to volunteer in their communities and provides matching gifts to nonprofit organizations. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

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 135.8 million access line equivalents and 32.5 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and 229,500 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 30 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.


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