February 28, 2001

Verizon Foundation will provide $3 million in grants to the nation's top literacy organizations to help them create an innovative online Web site (www.verizonreads.net) to promote a more literate America. The site, which will be known as the Verizon Literacy Network, was announced today in Dallas in conjunction with the National Center for Family Literacy's annual conference.

Verizon today gave the first $1.5 million of that gift to the American Library Association (ALA), the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) and Reading is Fundamental (RIF) - the four initial literacy partners in the network.

"Literacy organizations across the country are doing great work, but we have lacked the kind of resources a major communications company like Verizon can bring to the table," said Andy Hartman, executive director, NIFL. "The Verizon Literacy Network adds an important new communications and information platform that will complement our current efforts and dramatically extend the literacy community's outreach to the general public and the millions of Americans seeking to improve their literacy skills."

According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 92 million adults in the U.S. - almost 48 percent of the population - have very low or low literacy skills. Reading and writing at these levels make it difficult to earn a living wage and turns everyday tasks into extraordinary challenges.

The Verizon Literacy Network is designed for use by people needing help and the friends and family members who may be helping them find assistance, people seeking volunteer opportunities and literacy organizations that provide help for children and adult learners.

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