Verizon to Receive Cause Marketing Award for Community Program Support

NEW YORK -- Verizon will receive the 2003 Silver Halo Award for Best Social Service/Education Campaign at the annual Cause Marketing Forum being held here today. The award recognizes Verizon Reads, a program Verizon established in 1999 to help foster a more literate America through meaningful programs that create awareness, raise funds, and encourage collaboration among literacy providers

"The Cause Marketing Halo Awards demonstrate the good that can be done when businesses and nonprofits team up," said David Hessekiel, president of Cause Marketing Forum Inc., the program's organizer. "It's a competition in which we all come out winners."

Verizon, last year awarded more than $16.5 million to nonprofit agencies in support of literacy through the Verizon Reads programs. Additionally, the company's Literacy Network, Literacy Champions and Check Into Literacy programs have had a significant impact on raising awareness and funds nationwide for this issue.

"We work very hard to make Verizon a partner in the literacy community, striving to be America's Literacy Champion," said Nancy Williams, director-Public Affairs Programs for Verizon. "We're delighted that this year's selection committee is recognizing our Verizon Reads program and the campaign for a more literate society by giving us this prestigious award."

According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 92 million adults in the U.S have low or very low literacy skills. Other studies have found more than eight of every 20 adults with low literacy live in poverty compared with only one in 20 with strong literacy skills. These facts indicate low literacy is both widespread and detrimental.

Most experts also believe the reality, pervasiveness and negative impact of low literacy is not as widely recognized as it should be. In part this is because many people who suffer with low literacy skills have learned to cope while hiding their struggles from friends and family. Shame and fear of ridicule are barriers that block people with low literacy from seeking help. Building understanding of the issues surrounding low literacy is a central goal of the Verizon Reads program and is a major step towards a solution, as is raising funds to support organizations that combat low literacy with education.

A Fortune 10 company, 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 136.6 million access line equivalents and
33.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third-largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with 13.2 million long-distance lines, and the company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. With approximately $67 billion in annual revenues and 227,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.