Washington Literacy Efforts Get Boost From $125,000 in Verizon Grants

EVERETT, Wash. - Projects to improve literacy skills for Washingtonians and support the lagging regional economy have received a total of nearly $125,000 in grants from Verizon.

Fifteen nonprofit organizations, representing five Puget Sound counties, were presented with checks during a reception today at Edmonds Community College. Funding was provided by Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications.

"We want to provide economic stimulus through our foundation grants that will help address the high unemployment and economic uncertainty facing the region," said John Gustafson, Verizon external affairs director for the Northwest. "We sought proposals that would help improve literacy rates and cultivate a more educated and prepared work force."

Many of the agencies supported provide English as a Second Language programs for adults seeking marketable job skills.

The following organizations received grants:

  • Alliance for Education will use a $10,000 grant for their Teach the Teachers professional development program. Teachers will receive intensive training designed to create standards-based, technology-rich classroom projects.

  • Edmonds Community College Foundation will use an $18,000 grant for a program designed to enhance cultural, academic and computer literacy of low-income adults and prepare them for college. In addition, the program's hardware and software will be used in a computer lab by low-income adults enrolled in an entry-level English as a Second Language (ESL) program and by participants enrolled in a New Horizons program, an innovative approach to attracting low-income adults to education.

  • Hopelink will use a $10,000 grant to fund the Working English Project that provides work-related teaching materials to help ESL students prepare to enter the work force or get better jobs. Hopelink will introduce new teaching materials at training workshops, incorporate them into the literacy library resources, and place them on an expanded tutor-support section of the Hopelink Web site for ready access by ESL teachers.

  • Institute for Community Leadership Training and Organizing will use a $10,000 grant to expand its Leadership Literacy Project, which provides middle school students of Seattle's lowest socio-economic backgrounds intensive literacy, job-readiness and technology training.

  • Junior Achievement (JA) of Greater Puget Sound will use a $9,000 grant to ensure JA's Elementary School Program is offered at every grade level and in every classroom at Emerson Elementary School. The program teaches students about economics and the private-enterprise system through grade-specific curricula for kindergarten through sixth-grade students.

  • Literacy Council of Seattle will use its $4,500 grant to incorporate a job preparation literacy class. The project's goals are to improve job skills, help participants become more employable and achieve U.S. citizenship. In addition, the instructor will have access to a computer lab to provide students with an introduction to technology.

  • Page Ahead will use a $5,000 grant to provide books to at-risk children and to support Page Ahead programs within Verizon's service area. Half of the grant will be used to provide books to the Tulalip Elementary School Library in Marysville. The remainder will be provided to another school district in Snohomish County later this year. Page Ahead promotes reading activities and provides new books for at-risk children to increase their literacy levels, enrich their lives, create opportunities for their future and strengthen our communities.

  • Skagit County Community Action Agency will use its $10,000 seed grant to initiate a three-pronged effort to decrease barriers to employment for local adults with limited language and literacy skills. First, the project will offer ESL classes and tutoring at local businesses to increase job-specific literacy skills. Second, the project will support a partnership with the Work Force Development Council to fill a critical need for English classes on job-search and work-skills topics. Third, the project will develop ESL workplace literacy materials, resources and training for volunteer tutors as part of Skagit County Community Action Agency's goal-setting library.

  • Sno-Isle Regional Library Foundation will use a $3,000 grant to facilitate early-childhood reading throughout Snohomish and Island counties with a summer reading program. The program encourages kids to read during the summer to retain the skills they have learned during the previous school year to help them when school reconvenes in the fall.

  • Snohomish County Literacy Coalition will use a $5,100 grant to support the ESL job-readiness pronunciation project, which strives to improve pronunciation skills of ESL learners so they can find jobs.

  • Foundation for Private Enterprise Education will use a $5,000 grant to provide scholarships to high school students attending Business Week, an intensive, week-long experiential-learning program, where they learn about business, free enterprise and much more. Students also learn about life and teamwork and develop interpersonal skills that will be beneficial regardless of their career choice.

  • United Way of Island County will use a $5,000 grant to support a literacy program for children of low-income families by using the Raising A Reader products, which are designed for infants and preschoolers in the Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assessment programs. The purpose is for parents and caregivers to read to infants and toddlers to develop important pre-literacy skills and a love for reading.

  • Whatcom Literacy Council will use its $9,000 grant to help provide ESL tutoring and to develop a math curriculum to meet the needs of adult students. The Literacy Council will recruit and train tutors, develop customized learning plans for each student, purchase books and materials, and provide staff support.

  • Northshore School District will use a $10,000 grant to enhance several literacy development programs, including Swing Shift, an extended-learning program that provides before- and- after-school extended learning through small-group instruction and one-to-one tutoring. A literacy development component of Swing Shift will help students performing at below grade-level in reading and writing.

  • YMCA of Snohomish County will use a $15,000 grant to fund IDEAS (Increasing Diversity in Engineering and Science), a collaborative effort of the YMCA of Snohomish County - Minority Achievers Program, Everett Community College and Henry Cogswell College. IDEAS seeks to increase the number of students from minority and disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue and acquire bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and computer science.
  • Verizon Foundation last year awarded 22,000 grants totaling more than $70 million to nonprofit agencies that focus on improving basic and computer literacy, enriching communities through technology, and creating a skilled work force. The foundation uses its resources in the U.S., and abroad to develop partnerships in technology and connect them with organizations serving the needs of diverse communities, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence and the economically and socially disadvantaged. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation

    Verizon Communications

    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.