Verizon Foundation Grant Supports Buffalo's Summer Literacy Program

Verizon Foundation Grant Supports Buffalo's Summer Literacy Program

About 12,000 students who attend 41 schools in the Buffalo, N.Y. area will be encouraged to continue reading and writing this summer thanks to Mayor Byron Brown's "Reading Rules! Summer Reading Challenge." The literacy program is an initiative of the Police Athletic League supported by a Verizon Foundation grant.

Andres Irlando, Verizon president for the New York region, announced the $10,000 grant at the National Community Literacy Leadership Conference in Buffalo. "It's exciting to see a strong, grassroots movement recognizing that we have a lot of work to do to improve literacy, but that we've collectively become more innovative in our strategies and approaches," Irlando said.

Irlando cited challenging statistics - 35 percent of Buffalo school children don't graduate from high school, two-thirds of adults in the region function at the two lowest levels of literacy while 60 percent of new jobs in the area require advanced training or a college education. "It's clear we need a more effective game plan to make sure people gain the competitive literacy levels they need in our complex, technology-driven global economy," he said.

This is the second year Verizon Foundation has awarded a $10,000 grant to support the summer program. Since 2005, the foundation has donated $200,000 to address literacy in Buffalo and the surrounding region.

Students will be required to read at least seven books and write essays about them during the summer. Those who complete the challenge will be invited to an achievement ceremony. Teachers, librarians and community center directors will learn how to use the free literacy and educational resources available on Verizon's Thinkfinity.org.

Verizon Foundation also announced that it will be a founding member of the Literacy Funders Network (LFN), an affinity group of the Council of Foundations consisting of more than 20 private, corporate and community foundations. LFN's mission is to increase the philanthropic community's understanding of literacy as a systemic issue and tool for community change.

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