Verizon Receives National Society of Black Engineers' 2004 Golden Torch Award

NEW YORK - Cited for its commitment to economic development, technology advancement and advocacy for the African-American Community, Verizon is the winner of the National Society of Black Engineers' 2004 Golden Torch Award for Corporate Community Service.

"Verizon and its employees stand out because they don't just provide financial support, they get involved," said Mario V. Church, National Society of Black Engineers national chairman. "Their corporatewide approach to diversity results in positive, tangible support in our communities."

Verizon is among an elite group of companies and individuals being recognized at the organization's Golden Torch Award ceremony March 18 during its 30th annual convention in Dallas.

Diversity is an integral part of Verizon's business and influences everything from work force development and supplier relationships to economic development and community service. The company measures diversity progress like any other business objective, holding executives accountable through incentives linked to short-term compensation.

Minority employees represent nearly 30 percent of Verizon's work force and hold almost 18 percent of top management positions. A leader in the emerging market for broadband services, Verizon is grooming the next generation of diverse leaders to bring the benefits of new technology to homes and businesses across America. The company actively recruits diverse employees, working closely with colleges, universities, and professional and community-based organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers. Verizon prepares its multicultural work force for career advancement through mentoring and leadership development programs like the Verizon Development and Leadership Initiative and the Black Managers Workshop, which help participants identify professional goals and network with Verizon executives.

Verizon also funds employee-managed advocacy groups for co-workers with common interests. For example, the Consortium of Information and Telecommunications Executives (CITE), advances professional development for African-American employees of Verizon. The group also volunteers time and support to community programs such as First Book, a national nonprofit agency dedicated to providing children from low-income families their first new books. To date, nearly 600,000 books have been donated to thousands of children across the United States.

Verizon, which spent $1.7 billion with diverse suppliers in 2003, encourages the growth of small businesses in a variety of ways. It forms strategic alliances with advocacy groups and chambers of commerce, including the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and encourages primary suppliers to increase use of diverse businesses as subcontractors. Additionally, through the Verizon Diversity Managers program, 20 minority-owned investment firms manage $1 billion in committed Verizon pension assets.

Verizon Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm, has invested more than $40 million in the African-American community since 2000 by focusing on literacy, technology solutions, work force development and employee volunteerism. In 2003, the Foundation directly made grants of $14.7 million to nonprofit organizations serving the African-American community. These grants support programs to help bridge the digital divide, foster literacy and education initiatives, encourage entrepreneurship, and increase the representation of minorities in engineering, science, and other technical professions.

With a network of 15,000 members and more than 300 chapters, the National Society of Black Engineers promotes the development of African-Americans in science and engineering disciplines.

A Fortune 10 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.