UC Riverside, MESA and Verizon Announce New Partnership to Promote Math and Science to local Inland Empire Schools

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Local San Bernardino area students will receive specialized, experiential instruction in math and science as a result of a new partnership among UC Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering, the Mathematics Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program and Verizon.

The Verizon Foundation has invested $105,000 to fund two initiatives designed to improve preparation and success of Inland Empire students for careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

"As advancements in technology, science and engineering continue to revolutionize and dominate so many aspects of our society, having a trained and skilled workforce to handle these new demands is critical in order to remain competitive in the global market place," said Tim McCallion, Verizon West region president. "This partnership will support two initiatives that will provide students with hands-on, exciting opportunities in math, science and engineering principles to better prepare them for a career in these fields."

Verizon awarded an $80,000 grant that will be used to deliver MESA services in a math and science academic-preparation program to 100 middle school and high school students in San Bernardino.  The program will offer students a rich network of academic support services that include creation and tracking of an individual academic plan for each student, inviting their parents to orientations and empowerment programs throughout the year, and visits to college campuses and industry sites.

Verizon also awarded a $25,000 educational grant to the Success Partnership for Increasing Recruitment Into Technology program, or SPIRIT, a new effort of the Bourns College of Engineering in collaboration with the Alliance for Education in the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Office.  The program will develop a pre-engineering curriculum offering teacher-training opportunities and organizing design challenges to make the study of math and science more exciting and relevant to students.

"We want to expand the vision of these students so that they can go to college, and we want them to be prepared when they get there," said Chinya Ravishankar, the associate dean of engineering at Bourns and the principal investigator on the SPIRIT project.

The partnership will benefit San Bernardino school districts that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has targeted for intervention because they have not met the federal No Child Left Behind Act requirement for five years or more. These schools serve a high number of low-income students, many of whom are English language learners, and produce few students who go on to the University of California and California State University.

"This new program is a win-win partnership," said MESA executive director Oscar Porter. "Students will get the kind of academic support they need to succeed and go on to college. And the Inland Empire will have the skilled workforce to become competitive in a 21st century economy."

The Verizon grants to MESA will also help fund materials and supplies and provide funds for teacher time to implement hands-on math and science curricula. Verizon volunteers will participate in local and regional math, science and engineering competitions. Verizon's Thinkfinity.org online curriculum, lesson plans and interactive activities will also be used to stimulate student interest in math and science.

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free educational Web site, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence.  In 2008, the Verizon Foundation awarded more than $68 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  It also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in an additional $26 million in combined contributions to nonprofits.  Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

About MESA
MESA is a statewide program that provides academic preparation to over 17,500 educationally disadvantaged students. MESA's goal is to help these students to excel in math and science, go on to college and graduate in math-based majors. Statewide 81 percent of MESA high school graduates go directly to college. Of Latino American, African American, and American Indian MESA students, 41 percent are eligible to attend UC, compared to six percent of their statewide counterparts.

About Verizon
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 80 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 employs a diverse workforce of nearly 224,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.