Boosting Literacy Levels from Elias Pina to Santo Domingo

Boosting Literacy Levels from Elias Pina to Santo Domingo

Verizon and ProLiteracy Worldwide advance literacy levels, daily-life skills by tailoring programs to communities’ needs


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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–July 22, 2005–Verizon Dominicana President Jorge Ivan Ramirez will read to children enrolled in the EDUCA program as part of a celebration of the more than 10,000 families enrolled in or graduated from literacy programs that span the country Beginning at 12:45 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, 2005, the reading will precede a news conference to be held at 1 p.m. at the headquarters for Verizon Dominicana, Avenida John F. Kennedy, No. 54, during which officials and graduates will discuss the success that participants have enjoyed over the past two years.

The nine educational programs in 377 communities across the Dominican Republic, which represent a collaboration between corporate and nonprofit sectors, have increased literacy levels as well as life and employment skills among learners from preschoolers to senior citizens. ProLiteracy Worldwide, the world’s largest organization of community-based adult literacy programs, created and developed some of the initiatives using $248,000 donated over the last two years by the Verizon International Foundation and by counting on the support of Verizon Dominicana employees. The programs offer residents of urban and rural communities the opportunity to learn in age- or skill-specific settings or together as families and provide the resources residents need to apply literacy skills toward the first steps in greater personal and economic development.

“It’s inspiring to see how people of all ages who, by developing a proficiency in literacy, have unlocked their potential in so many other areas,” said Dan Petri, president of Verizon International. “Our support of these programs is an investment in the future of the Dominican Republic, and the return on that investment is realized when we hear the success stories and from one visit to the next when we see the progress that has been made on a person-by-person basis.”

From Santo Domingo to Guerra to San Pedro de Macoris, ProLiteracy has developed programs that incorporate literacy training into real-world projects such as micro-businesses, health initiatives or in community-building activities. Each program is tailored to a community’s specific needs, explained Lynn Curtis, vice president of international programs, ProLiteracy Worldwide.

“This approach drives results but it also helps secure the support of participants. They can see from the onset how what they learn applies to their everyday lives,” Curtis added. “Once they’ve seen the benefit, participants return and serve as volunteers, so the program has an impact and is sustainable.”

“Beyond teaching essential skills, these programs also are preparing participants for self-sufficiency and setting them on a course to more fulfilling lives,” Ramirez noted.

The programs, listed below, currently reach more than 6,700 adult learners and their families, addressing literacy in a multi-pronged, holistic approach.

A Homerun for the Dominican Republic: Baseball, Literacy and Better Lives is a start-up initiative that addresses the unique problem facing tens of thousands of boys between ages 6 and 19 — abandoning education for the dream of playing baseball in American minor or major leagues despite a success rate of .01 percent. First targeted near the hometowns of some big-name baseball stars, the program can easily be duplicated throughout the country.

As part of Centro de Investigación y Apoyo Cultural (Center for Learning and Cultural Support) the literacy program serves some 480 young adults, ages 15 to 35, from 14 neighborhoods in southwest Santo Domingo. Varying in skill levels, classes result in primary and secondary school certification by the Ministry of Education.

Ce-Mujer is a literacy program for women that provides 30 learners from el Tamarindo district with motivational materials and educational projects in the areas of health, micro-enterprise, and parenting and women’s rights.

EDUCA (Educate) is a family literacy program similar to Head Start and Even Start in the United States. Some 385 parent learners and 1,200 children participate in family literacy projects in 32 poor neighborhoods in Santo Domingo. Using tailored learning materials, parents develop the skills and gain the practical capacities to help their children and families succeed by supporting their children’s studies, preparing otherwise at-risk children for school.

Proyecto ABC – Alfabetización en los Bayetes para la Comunidad (Project Literacy for the Community of Bayetes) serves large numbers of Haitian immigrants who entered the Dominican Republic illegally in search of farm work but have found closed sugar factories and sky high unemployment. Learning Spanish is essential to reaching economic self-sufficiency, so 85 Dominican and Haitian learners develop listening, speaking and reading skills in Spanish.

Tu-Mujer (You-Woman) focuses on economic self-sufficiency through the development of literacy skills. Although the program serves 160 women from East Santo Domingo, 60 of the women also receive job training.

FUNDASEP (Foundation of Azua, San Juan and Elias Pina) reaches 5,110 adult learners and their families, who engage in literacy instruction and application projects in the areas of micro-business, health initiatives, crop and livestock, parenting support groups and clean water wells.

Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia (Parish of Our Lady of Altagracia) serves 200 Haitian and Dominican residents in two rural villages near the Haitian border. This program allows learners to master Spanish as a second language or build the skills and confidence they need to solve daily problems.

Centro de Planificacion y Accion Ecumenica (Center for Planning and Universal Action) offers literacy classes but at the same time asks learners to participate in the development of citizens’ rights platforms and solutions within their communities. The program reaches 100 residents in and around Los Llanos, from ages 16 through 55.

The Verizon International Foundation supports a variety of educational and economic initiatives that focus on literacy, workforce and community technology development. The Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life of the global communities served by Verizon and its international affiliates. Working closely with affiliates, a variety of advisory groups, nonprofit organizations and others, the Foundation identifies local needs and then develops and nurtures programs that address those needs.

About ProLiteracy Worldwide: ProLiteracy Worldwide, the largest organization of community-based literacy programs in the world, represents 1,200 local program affiliates in all 50 states and 100 partner programs in 52 developing countries. Through this extensive global reach, ProLiteracy provides the training, technical assistance, materials, and other support that local literacy programs need to assist adults and their families to acquire or improve their literacy skills. These affiliates and partners work with more than 350,000 adult literacy students each year. ProLiteracy Worldwide has its headquarters in Syracuse, N.Y. For more information, please visit http://www.proliteracy.org.

With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of 212,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation’s most reliable wireless network, serving 45.5 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit http://www.verizon.com.

VERIZON’S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts, high quality video and images, and other information are available at Verizon’s News Center on the World Wide Web at http://www.verizon.com/news. To receive news releases by e-mail, visit the News Center and register for customized automatic delivery of Verizon news releases.

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CONTACT:

ProLiteracy Worldwide

Rochelle Cassella

315.422.9121 ext. 353

or

Verizon International Foundation

Alberto Canal

212-395-5959

Boosting Literacy Levels from Elias Pina to Santo Domingo