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State's First Lady Launches Virginia Reads

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia First Lady Lisa Collis and Robert Woltz, president of Verizon Virginia, today launched an initiative to improve literacy in the commonwealth. The announcement came in a news conference at the Governor's Mansion.

Virginia Reads is a collaborative effort by Verizon and the Virginia Literacy Foundation. Virginia Reads seeks to raise awareness of the issues surrounding low literacy levels in Virginia, enlist badly needed volunteer tutors, particularly from corporations, and set the stage for new funding opportunities from the private sector to support literacy programs.

"I am pleased to join efforts to promote literacy in Virginia," First Lady Lisa Collis said. "As a parent, I know reading is fundamental to a child's development. Addressing literacy issues is one of the most important things we can do to help improve the quality of life for people in Virginia."

"Verizon's hope is that Virginia Reads will increase the resources, both dollars and volunteer hours, available to improve our literacy partners in Virginia," said Robert Woltz, president of Verizon Virginia. "These additional resources should enable them to employ innovation and technology that can reach children and adults in school, at the library, on the job or at home."

Mark Emblidge, the executive director of the Virginia Literacy Foundation, said, "The Virginia Literacy Foundation, celebrating 15 years of service and supporting the
work of over 9,000 literacy providers across Virginia, is pleased to be joining forces with Verizon on the Virginia Reads campaign. Verizon has demonstrated over and over, in Virginia and across the country, its commitment to a literate America."

Virginia Reads is one of many nonprofit literacy programs Verizon has championed and underwritten as part of its national commitment to be America's Literacy Champion. Virginia Reads primary function is to provide financial assistance and support to state literacy providers and educators serving Virginia families, adults and children struggling with reading.

A major element of Virginia Reads' mission will be to recruit corporate volunteers to become literacy tutors. This force of volunteers will be trained and organized under the management and guidance of the Virginia Literacy Foundation.

Another Verizon literacy initiative, Check Into Literacy, gives Verizon's customers in the state a chance to support Virginia Reads by making a $1 monthly donation through their phone bill. They can do so by simply checking a box at the bottom of the remittance slip of their Verizon phone bill.

Through Check Into Literacy, Verizon's customers in the state have already contributed more than $20,000.

Anyone who is not a customer or who would like to donate more than $1 can visit Verizon's online directory,, and contribute using a credit card. For more information about this program and other Verizon literacy initiatives, visit

Verizon has been a major benefactor over the years in promoting literacy in Virginia. The company provided the leadership and early funding to create the Virginia Literacy Foundation in 1987.

Its vision is that every child and adult in Virginia will read, write and speak English well enough to achieve his or her personal goals and dreams.

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 135.0 million access line equivalents and 31.5 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and more than 236,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 35 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit