BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - Beneath the dim glow of a flickering candle, a young Abraham Lincoln frequently pored over borrowed books, cultivating a lifelong passion for reading that would later serve as inspiration for many of his famous speeches and manuscripts.
One hundred forty years after the death of the nation's 16th president, Verizon honors his passion for literacy, which the company shares.
When the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is dedicated April 19 in Springfield, Ill., a $100,000 grant from Verizon will help shine the spotlight on literacy and the importance of developing strong reading skills. Inside the facility, which honors one of America's great leaders, visitors can visit the Abraham Lincoln Institute for Literacy. Part of the library and museum's Center for Learning, the institute seeks to advance the study and understanding of Lincoln's life and career and promote a better understanding of America's political and cultural heritage while calling attention to the need to strengthen reading and literacy skills.
Lincoln's eloquent writing and passion for reading and learning guided the development of the institute. And his commitment to the belief that all persons are entitled to pursue their own dreams underscores the importance the institute places upon literacy issues.
"Literacy lifts hearts and minds and liberates souls," said Philip Wood Jr., Verizon vice president of public affairs, policy and communications in Illinois. "As America's Literacy Champion, Verizon recognizes -- as President Lincoln recognized -- that strong literacy skills serve as a foundational anchor of a successful life.
"A well-read person can become anything he or she set their mind on achieving, even president of the United States," said Wood. "We're encouraged that our grant will help focus more attention on a critical societal issue that impacts people of all backgrounds."
For nearly a decade, Verizon has actively supported literacy through employee volunteerism and corporate contributions. Verizon annually campaigns to raise literacy levels, and in 1999, the company launched Verizon Reads - a comprehensive national campaign involving corporate philanthropy, community outreach, employee participation and collaboration with major literacy organizations. The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, has made literacy one of its priorities for funding and last year contributed nearly $18 million to promote basic and computer literacy.
Almost 40 million adults in the U.S. are unable to read, while millions more lack basic computer skills. These twin problems touch communities on every level, from individuals and families to businesses large and small. Verizon is working with a network of literacy partners to reach adults and children across America.
The company's Verizon Reads program was awarded the 1999 Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership by President Clinton. For more information, visit www.verizonreads.net or call 1-877-483-READ.
Verizon operates more than 800,000 local phone lines and offers long-distance, high-speed Internet and wireless communication services in Illinois. The company employs more than 3,600 people in the Land of Lincoln.
With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of more than 210,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom serves customers based in 29 states with wireline telecommunications services, including broadband and other services. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 43.8 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.