Verizon's 'Thinkfinity.org' Offers Free Online Resources for Teachers to Bring Black History Month Studies to Life

NEW YORK - From the creation of peanut butter, to inventing a surgical instrument used to remove cataracts, to the creation of the Supersoaker toy water cannon, the handiwork of African-American inventors can be seen throughout the fabric of American life.

February, Black History Month, provides another great opportunity for educators to highlight these achievements and inspire today's generation with the stories of some of the best-known and lesser-known African-American creators.

African-American inventors is one theme found in the more than 49,000 free, convenient resources for teachers available at the Verizon Foundation's online education platform, Thinkfinity, formerly known as MarcoPolo. To celebrate Black History Month, Verizon has added a convenient Black History Month resources and lesson plans section for teachers on the Thinkfinity homepage at www.thinkfinity.org.

Thinkfinity contains a host of standards-based, grade-specific resources, touching on a wide array of topics from the civil rights movement to the rich cultural history of Harlem to the pivotal role African-Americans played in the creation of Jazz.

A five-part lesson plan developed by ARTSEDGE, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, entitled Drop me off in Harlem, paints a vivid picture of Harlem and its history, taking students from the black migration from Africa and the American South to the North, to the Harlem Renaissance, to daily life in Harlem today.

"Whether it is a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King or a medical breakthrough by an African-American scientist, these stories are a vital part of the American story," said Patrick Gaston, president of the Verizon Foundation. "We're proud to join with our esteemed education partners to use technology to bring these lessons of history and others to life for our children."

Among the remarkable people whose achievements are described on Thinkfinity are:

  • George Washington Carver, who created hundreds of peanut-based products, including peanut butter.

  • Dr. Patricia Bath, who invented the Laserphaco Probe, a surgical instrument that uses a laser to remove cataracts.

  • Lonnie G. Johnson, who invented the Supersoaker water cannon.

Every resource on Thinkfinity has been created or approved by one of eight of the nation's leading educational organizations, which have worked in partnership for 10 years to create an expansive suite of resources that are invaluable to teachers and students.

The Verizon Foundation's Thinkfinity partners are: the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Council on Economic Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, International Reading Association, The National Council of Teachers of English, American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Geographic Society.

The Black History Month information on Thinkfinity is one of several actions Verizon has taken to support and celebrate the African-American community. Others include:

  • A $1 million Verizon Foundation grant to the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation to underwrite the educational elements of the visitor's center at the memorial, scheduled for completion on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in 2008.

  • A three-year, $1.5 million foundation grant to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to overhaul the information technology infrastructure at the NAACP's national headquarters and branches.

  • More than $86 million in foundation grants since 2001 to nonprofit organizations that benefit and serve the African-American community.

  • Verizon's  new community-support advertising campaign featuring J. Ivy, the New Age "spoken-word" poet, who encourages African-Americans to make history every day. The campaign -- utilizing print, radio and online media - began on Jan. 15, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, and will continue through February.

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery.  In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions. Under the foundation's Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation's largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees have also contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000.

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

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, 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 more than 59 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.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of approximately 242,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.