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Appalachia READS Receives $40,000
Ohio University-based program promotes importance of reading, writing

ATHENS, Ohio (October 15, 2004) – Appalachia READS, a literacy program based at Ohio University in Athens, has been awarded a $40,000 grant by the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, to promote literacy programs in Ohio’s 29 Appalachian counties.

“Literacy is critically important in America, and we applaud Verizon for this grant, which allows Appalachia READS to help other programs receive the support they need to succeed,” Ohio University President Roderick McDavis said.

“Verizon believes that understanding how to read and write is a fundamental building block for success in life,” said Todd Colquitt, president-Verizon Ohio. “When we have a literate populace, everyone wins – from society to business to the individuals themselves, and that’s why Verizon has supported literacy for more than a decade.”

“As the only rural literacy coalition in the country, Appalachia READS has the potential to have an enduring impact on literacy efforts throughout the region,” said Kathy Krendl, provost, Ohio University. “With continuing support from Verizon, Appalachia READS is working to improve access to literacy opportunities and resources through community-based programs.”

Appalachia READS was founded in 2003 as a collaborative between the Verizon Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Ohio University College of Communication. It is based on the Ohio University campus.

In 2003, Appalachia READS identified nearly 700 literacy programs in the Ohio’s Appalachia region.

“These programs face challenges often associated with the rural Appalachian region of Ohio,” said Danielle Hopson, executive director, Appalachia READS. “They have a small population base with a limited number of volunteers and potential sponsors. They have limited knowledge of and access to resources of similar programs; lack of recognition and subsequent community support; and the absence of literacy advocates to demonstrate the need for literacy and the impact which literacy has upon not just individuals, but communities and regions, as well.”

There are three specific initiatives for Appalachia READS this year, according to Hopson.

“First,” she said, “We will conduct a needs assessment of these programs. Then, we will update our Web site to include available programs and resources, and, finally, we will provide training and assistance in the search for additional local, regional, and national funding sources.”

Hopson said a formal needs assessment among the community-based literacy programs in the Appalachia READS service area will be conducted, and a strategic plan will be developed. According to Hopson, the needs assessment will assist both Appalachia READS and literacy programs in determining program needs, prioritizing objectives, and collaborating with and among other literacy programs. The needs assessment will also demonstrate these program needs to concerned citizens and the general public.

Based on the results of the assessment, Hopson said, the Appalachia READS Web site and database will be updated so it better meets the needs of the area literacy programs.

Currently, the Web site provides links to literacy resources and training materials, grant sources and opportunities, volunteer information, and a variety of literacy resources. It also includes an interactive message board to allow users to share information and collaborate.

The final component is to increase the level of service that Appalachia READS provides to the literacy programs in the region.

“We want to create a lasting network for community-based literacy providers to maximize their resources, send consistent messages, and meet demands where current programming is not sufficient,” Hopson said.

“The Appalachia READS Center is a wonderful resource for literacy programs in the region. It is great to have the continuous support of the Verizon Foundation,” said Miss Ohio USA Lauren (Kelsey) Hall, an Ohio University student who serves as a spokesperson for the program.

“The accomplishments of Appalachia READS demonstrate clearly and emphatically that there is more to be done,” McDavis said. “I believe, however, that programs such as Appalachia READS will benefit everyone in Ohio for generations to come.”

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Media Contact: Media Specialist Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

Photos and captions:

  • www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/READS1.jpg
    Displaying an oversized check that represents Verizon Foundation's $40,000 grant to Appalachia READS are (from left), Miss Ohio USA Kelsey Hall, an Ohio University student and Appalachia READS spokesperson; Roderick McDavis, president of Ohio University; and Todd Colquitt, president of Verizon Ohio.

  • www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/READS2.jpg
    Miss Ohio USA Kelsey Hall speaks during Friday's event while Ohio University interim Provost Kathy Krendl looks on.

  • www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/READS3.jpg
    Todd Colquitt, president of Verizon Ohio, delivers remarks during Friday's event during which the Verizon Foundation presented a $40,000 grant to Appalachia READS

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