Verizon rings up dollars 3m to support literacy in the US

NEW YORK: Verizon Foundation has pledged dollars 3 million to

literacy organizations in the US for the creation of an online Web

coalition known as the Verizon Literacy Network. The foundation is the

telecom company's philanthropic operation.



The first dollars 1.5 million of the donation was paid two weeks ago to

the American Library Association, the National Center for Family

Literacy, the National Institute for Literacy and Reading is

Fundamental.



The group is building a Web site called verizonreads.com, the first

component of which is already in operation. Utilizing Ask Jeeves

technology, it allows people to plug in key words and be routed to

information on one of the organizations' own sites.



'It is built for use by people who are helping those with reading

difficulties,' said Bobbi Hennessey, media outreach director for Verizon

Communications.



Plans to expand the network's features this year include establishing an

online distance-learning program to certify literacy volunteers. A

literacy directory, allowing users to find organizations by zip code,

will also be added.



The National Adult Literacy Survey states that 92 million US adults have

poor literacy skills. Hennessey said that, given First Lady Laura Bush's

commitment to literacy, there has never been a better time to promote

the issue. 'Our goal is to become America's literacy champion,' he

said.



'Now is the time for the issue to really catch fire.'



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