Verizon Provides $242,000 in Literacy Grants to 32 Local Schools and Non-Profit Groups

SEATTLE - Verizon will contribute $242,000 to 32 Northwest area schools and organizations serving the needs of adults, children and families as part of International Literacy Day tomorrow.

"Education, economic development and crime are key issues for our community," said John Gustafson, Verizon's Northwest public affairs director. "Literacy affects each of these areas, and is our primary philanthropic focus.

"Illiteracy limits a child's advancement in education and an adult's ability to hold a family-wage job," he said. "Illiteracy is found in the vast majority of those who are incarcerated."

Grants in the Northwest were made to support programs that have innovative and effective approaches to addressing illiteracy. Programs range from supporting Books For Kids, with $20,000 for new books to be distributed to schools and organizations serving children from low-income families, to providing support for literacy tutors in a joint project between the Washington Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities and the Snohomish County Literacy Coalition. (Editor's Note: A complete list of Northwest-area grants are included at the end of this release.)

As part of Verizon's Literacy Champion program, the company provides posters of Mariner catcher Dan Wilson to fans and school children. Wilson's 'Make A Play For Literacy' during the 2000 baseball season has resulted in a $50,000 contribution to the First Place School for homeless children in Seattle for a computer and literacy specialist during the coming school year from Verizon and GTE and Literacy Champion co-sponsors Lucent Technologies and Motorola. Wilson is one of several Literacy Champions across the country who support organizations with contributions to literacy programs.

Verizon Communications, the national telecommunications company formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is committed to promoting literacy efforts. To that end, the company has launched a Presidential award-winning program, Verizon Reads - a comprehensive national initiative involving corporate philanthropy, community outreach, employee participation and collaboration with major literacy organizations.

The Verizon Check Into Literacy grants program is part of a national commitment to fund more than $5.5 million in literacy initiatives this year. Verizon Reads supports a wide variety of literacy programs and works with a network of collaborative literacy partners to reach adults and children across America including the National Institute for Literacy, Literacy Volunteers of America, National Coalition for Literacy, National Alliance of Urban Literacy Coalitions, National Center for Family Literacy, Reading is Fundamental, American Library Association, Communities In Schools and Everybody Wins!

Verizon customers are able to check off a contribution of $1 monthly on their telephone bills, and the money collected is distributed to literacy organizations in their area. In addition, the company is matching $1 million in customer contributions through the program.

Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, 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 more than 100 million access line equivalents and 25.6 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 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 .