Alabama Department of Education Receives $79,000 to Provide Innovative, Free Online Resources to Teachers Through Thinkfinity.org

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Alabama Department of Education received a $79,000 grant today from the Verizon Foundation to expand the online educational resources available through a special Web portal, the Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX) at http://alex.state.al.us.

These rich, engaging resources, aligned to state standards, will be provided free to Alabama teachers through Thinkfinity.org.

Thinkfinity.org is the Verizon Foundation's free, comprehensive program and online portal to more than 55,000 educational resources, including standards-based, grade-specific, K-12 lesson plans and other interactive tools and materials for teachers and students provided in partnership with many of the nation's leading educational and literacy organizations. Thinkfinity.org is designed to help teachers gain access to online resources quickly and requires no passwords or software downloads.

In addition to providing thousands of Web resources, Thinkfinity.org will work with the Alabama Learning Exchange to develop training materials to help teachers use ALEX to improve learning in all subject areas, from early childhood through high school, with special materials developed for teacher preparation programs.

"This grant will enable us to expand 21st century learning tools and training through the ALEX Web portal," said Dr. Ruth Ash, deputy superintendent of instruction, Alabama Department of Education. "Accessing the right lessons and interactives at the time a teacher, parent or student needs them is critical toward success in the classroom. Thinkfinity and ALEX not only motivate and engage the learner, but we expect evidence of improved learning across all subject areas through this valuable partnership."

Michelle Robinson, Verizon senior vice president - Southern region, announced the grant at an event at Hampton Cove Elementary School in Huntsville and presented the check to Ash.

"Teachers are often our unsung heroes, working hours outside of the classroom to prepare the best possible lesson plans to engage their students," said Robinson. "Through Thinkfinity.org, teachers gain immediate access to quality educational resources to engage and educate their students."

Following the presentation, legendary actor James Earl Jones read the children's book "Saturdays and Teacakes" to fifth-graders at the school.  In addition, there was an interactive presentation of the resources available through ALEX and Thinkfinity.org.

Content that will be available on ALEX through Thinkfinity.org is provided via a partnership between the Verizon Foundation and 11 of the nation's leading organizations in the fields of education and literacy: the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Reading Association, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Center for Family Literacy, National Council on Economic Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of  Teachers of Mathematics, National Geographic Society, ProLiteracy Worldwide and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

For training and resources, educators can contact Dr. Shannon Parks, ALEX/Thinkfinity state administrator; Alabama Department of Education, Technology Initiatives; 334-242-9594. To locate and request training from a Technology in Motion trainer, educators can visit http://www.technologyinmotion.state.al.us/meet.htm.

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

ALEX is the State Department of Education's interactive Web portal that receives over 27,000 unique visitors per month. ALEX, won a 2007 "Best of the Web" Award from the Center for Digital Education and Government, hosting, through the Alabama Supercomputer Authority, a rich assortment of interactives and resources linked to the searchable Alabama Courses of Study. Most of these activities are supplied by the Verizon Foundation's, Thinkfinity.org, with over 2,000 lesson plans supplied by Alabama teachers. These resources are designed to engage students and teachers in 21st century learning, and expand new opportunities. In 2008, a training program will be offered and available in every district to help teachers learn to use ALEX and Thinkfinity.org in their area of expertise. Parents also have access to ALEX so that they can help their child meet school expectations at home.

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 63.7 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 nearly 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.