Verizon Offers Over $340,000 to Nonprofits in Maryland

BALTIMORE -- Thanks to the generosity of Verizon's customers who participated in the company's Check Into Literacy program, the Verizon Foundation seeks to award $341,000 to nonprofit organizations in Maryland that support literacy and learning activities for children, adolescents and adults. 

At an announcement today at Dickey Hill Elementary School in Baltimore, Verizon invited eligible nonprofit organizations in the state to mail or e-mail proposals to the company to compete for the grants.

Check Into Literacy enables Verizon landline phone customers to make a $1-a-month, tax-deductible donation to literacy programs when customers pay their Verizon bill.  All they need to do is check off a box on their payment slip.  Verizon has already collected $341,000 through the program in Maryland.

To qualify for funding, applicants must be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization providing basic reading skills and computer and Web-based literacy programs to Marylanders in underserved communities.  Grant proposals must be submitted by midnight, Sept. 10.  Verizon will announce grant recipients on Nov. 30.

"A dollar a month may not seem like much, but it can go a long way to improving literacy skills in local communities and give people the opportunity to succeed," said William R. Roberts, president of Verizon Maryland.  "Literacy is the foundation of a successful future for all children, and Verizon is proud to partner with our customers to assist literacy organizations throughout Maryland." 

At today's event, legendary actor and Verizon brand ambassador James Earl Jones read Disney's "The Lion King" to first- and second-graders and presented them with autographed copies of the book.  The Verizon Maryland Chapter TelecomPioneers – some dressed as circus clowns – entertained the children and distributed gift bags containing t-shirts and school supplies.  The children attend a program at the Dickey Hill school run by Building Educated Leaders for Life in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning. 

"Summer learning is vital if children are to keep pace academically, and reading is one of the most important things kids can do over the summer to succeed," said Ron Fairchild, executive director of the Center for Summer Learning.  "Studies show that vacation-time reading loss particularly affects low-income children.  Instead of losing ground over the summer, programs like the one at Dickey Hill have been shown to boost reading achievement."

Roberts said, "We applaud the work that outstanding Maryland organizations perform each day to combat illiteracy.  Grants from the Verizon Foundation's Check Into Literacy program provide much-needed funding so organizations can continue making a positive impact in the community."

Thanks to the generosity of Verizon customers who support Check Into Literacy, nonprofit organizations in 26 states and Washington, D.C., will receive more than $1.28 million to bolster literacy efforts.  The participating states are: Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

About the Verizon Foundation:
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 healthcare 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 also have 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.

About the TelecomPioneers:
The TelecomPioneers are the world's largest industry-related volunteer organization, with chapters located throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Founded in 1911, the TelecomPioneers live by three proud values – service, loyalty and fellowship.  The organization is comprised of 620,000 current and retired telecommunications employees who have joined together to make their communities better places in which to live and work.  Verizon, through a grant from the Verizon Foundation, sponsors more than 128,000 of these members, who are organized into 17 chapters across the United States.  During the past year, they have volunteered more than 2 million hours in their communities.  To learn more, visit www.verizonpioneers.org.

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