WASHINGTON - The Verizon Foundation is providing $2.2 million in grants to the National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League to fund the creation of an innovative, formalized after-school program using resources from Verizon's Thinkfinity.org.
The initiative, announced Wednesday (Oct. 8), is designed to improve achievement and graduation rates among minority students, using culturally sensitive educational resources with an emphasis on literacy, math and science. The program marks the first time the National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League have partnered on a major education initiative.
"While education is a universal need, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution," said Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza. "For a student to reach his or her full potential, educators both in and outside of the classroom must continue to strive to find unique and compelling ways to reach today's students. That's why we're proud to partner with the Verizon Foundation and the National Urban League to create a dynamic, after-school education initiative that will focus on real-world and relevant themes to reach youth."
Through this initiative, education experts from both organizations will work with Verizon's Thinkfinity.org content-providers to create unique, culturally sensitive multimedia educational resources. The resources will first be rolled out in a series of pilot programs at approximately 12 after-school locations affiliated with the National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League.
After a review to determine which resources have produced the strongest educational gains, the program will be made available -- online and through a Thinkinity.org after-school guidebook -- to all the after-school affiliates of both organizations.
The information also will be made available to the public for free through Verizon's Thinkfinity.org Web site.
Thinkfinity.org is the Verizon Foundation's free comprehensive program and online portal to 55,000 standards-based, grade-specific, K-12 lesson plans and other educational resources provided in partnership with many of the nation's leading educational and literacy organizations.
The after-school program is the first formal Thinkfinity.org program for use outside of the classroom.
"For today's students to gain the valuable educational base they need to succeed, learning cannot end when the school day ends," said Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston. "Every moment presents a learning opportunity, and after-school programs must capitalize on their time with students to engage, educate and inspire them to excel."
The announcement of the new program was made at an event at CentroNía, an accredited educational organization in Washington that provides educational services in a bilingual and multicultural environment. CentroNía, which is affiliated with the National Council of La Raza, will serve as the initial pilot location for the program. The Hispanic Office of Planning and Evaluation in Boston, Mass., will also serve as a pilot location.
"Quite simply, too many of our youth fall through the cracks in our educational system," said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League. "Nationally, approximately 50 percent of African-American students earn high school diplomas. More must be done to reach these students, and the Thinkfinity.org after-school program will provide a tremendous opportunity for students to become excited about education."
Since the launch of Verizon's Thinkfinity.org in March 2007, the Verizon Foundation has committed more than $34 million to update and expand Thinkfinity.org and provide training to teachers.
Content for Thinkfinity.org is provided through 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, 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 National Museum of American History.
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its signature program, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence. In 2007, the foundation awarded more than $67.4 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $25.1 million in combined contributions. 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 Verizon's inception in 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.
About the National Council of La Raza
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) - the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States - works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. Through its network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations (CBOs) NCLR reaches millions of Hispanics each year in 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. To achieve its mission, NCLR conducts applied research, policy analysis, and advocacy, providing a Latino perspective in five key areas - assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health. In addition, NCLR provides capacity-building assistance to its affiliates who work at the state and local level to advance opportunities for individuals and families. Founded in 1968, NCLR is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NCLR serves all Hispanic subgroups in all regions of the country. NCLR has operations in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org.
About the National Urban League
The National Urban League (www.nul.org) established in 1910 is the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream. Today, the National Urban League, headquartered in New York City, spearheads the non-partisan efforts of its local affiliates. There are over 100 local affiliates of the National Urban League located in 35 states and the District of Columbia providing direct services to more than 2 million people nationwide through programs, advocacy and research.
About Verizon Communications
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 67 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 employed a diverse workforce of approximately 232,000 as of the end of the first quarter 2008 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.