WNBA's Chamique Holdsclaw Teams with Verizon, DC LEARNs to Promote Literacy in Nation's Capital

WASHINGTON -- Chamique Holdsclaw, all-star forward of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, will help raise public awareness of the importance of good reading skills over the next year as the Washington DC Reads Verizon Literacy Champion.

Under the Literacy Champions program -- part of the nationwide Verizon Reads literacy awareness campaign -- Verizon partners with local celebrities such as Holdsclaw and organizations such as DC LEARNs to give literacy a familiar face and raise awareness and funds for promoting good reading skills.

As literacy champion, Holdsclaw will take part in several events in 2002 to promote literacy in the District of Columbia. Today, Holdsclaw and a number of District youth participated in a photo session for a poster that will be distributed throughout the District early next year.

The poster, one of 16 produced with literacy champions across the country, will promote the mission of DC LEARNs and its 42 member literacy organizations.

"Washington DC Reads will be an important program this coming year," said Holdsclaw. "Reading always has been a key part of my life, and I really want to help emphasize how critical literacy is for success in life at every age."

"We are extremely pleased that Chamique has chosen to focus on literacy and will help us address the District's literacy challenges and opportunities," said Dr. Sharon Morgenthaler, president of DC LEARNs. "Good reading skills are essential, and we are fortunate that Verizon is helping us spread that message."

"The Chamique Holdsclaw Literacy Champion poster will be a 'must have' for thousands of children and adults in the District," said Marie C. Johns, president of Verizon Washington, D.C. "Chamique's commitment and enthusiasm in leading this campaign really will help the cause of literacy in Washington."

According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 92 million adults in the U.S. have low or very low literacy skills. Other studies have found that more than eight of every 20 adults with low literacy live in poverty compared to only one in 20 with strong literacy skills. Taken together these facts indicate low literacy is both widespread and detrimental.

Building understanding of the issues surrounding low literacy is a central goal of Verizon's Literacy Champion program and is a major step toward a solution. The program also seeks to raise funds to support organizations that combat low literacy levels with education.

DC LEARNs' 42 member organizations work to build the capacity and effectiveness of adult, family, and children's literacy services in Washington, D.C.; mobilize resources to support improvement in literacy and reading skills; and advocate effective public policy to benefit District residents at the lowest level of literacy and the organizations that serve them. Visit www.dclibrary.org/dclearns for more information.

The Verizon Reads Literacy Champion Program was established in 1998 and has raised millions of dollars for literacy programs across the country. Verizon Reads is a comprehensive national campaign of corporate philanthropy, customer outreach, employee participation and corporate partner collaboration. It is designed to reach nearly 40 million Americans who have serious problems with literacy. Visit www.verizonreads.net to learn more about Verizon's commitment to being America's literacy champion.

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 128.5 million access line equivalents and 28.7 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with 256,000 employees and approximately $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.


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