CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A dollar a month may not seem like much, but it can go a long way to improving literacy skills and giving children the opportunity to succeed.
Thanks to Verizon landline telephone customers in West Virginia who participated in Verizon's innovative Check Into Literacy program, the West Virginia University (WVU) Extension Service recently received more than $18,000 to support Energy Express, a six-week summer reading program running from June 25 through Aug. 3 that promotes literacy among children living in rural and low-income communities across West Virginia.
The Check Into Literacy program enables Verizon's landline telephone customers to support literacy by checking a box on their monthly phone bills to make a $1 tax-deductible donation to promote literacy throughout the United States. Verizon then distributes these donations to local organizations that serve the state the customers live in.
"One of the most effective tools to promote literacy arrives in your mailbox each month: your Verizon phone bill," said H. Stan Cavendish, president of Verizon West Virginia. "Verizon customers who participate in this program show how much they care about our communities through their donations, and we applaud them for it."
The WVU Extension Service Energy Express program, which is held at more than 80 sites in 39 counties across West Virginia, strives to maintain reading levels and nutritional standards for nearly 3,200 rural and low-income children. Many of these children lose academic skills over the summer because of a lack of structured learning opportunities, and, without a school breakfast and lunch, they lose their nutritional well-being as well.
Through Energy Express, more than 450 college students serving through AmeriCorps work as mentors with small groups of children to make reading meaningful in their lives and to engage them in activities that demonstrate their self-worth and personal development. In addition, the children receive two nutritious family-style meals each day.
The Energy Express program makes a difference, as participating children's reading skills were maintained or increased last year, with the average child gaining five months in broad reading achievement. In addition, the program provided more than 182,000 meals to participating children.
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 60.7 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.