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Verizon's Literacy Program

CSULB Literacy Project Receives $15,000 Grant
Through Verizon's 'Check Into Literacy Program'

The Technology Enhanced Literacy Program at CSULB has been awarded a $15,000 grant through Verizon's 'Check Into Literacy Program,' which allows the company's landline phone customers to make a $1-a-month, tax-deductable donation to literacy programs when paying their bills.

CSULB was one of six organizations to be selected to share in the more than $87,000 Verizon collected in California in 2007. The six organizations receiving grants were chosen based on the quality of the programs, their focus on results and use of technology and evaluation methods. In all, more than 45 California non-profits submitted proposals for funding through the program.

Established in 2002, the CSULB Technology Enhanced Literacy Program develops reading materials in an e-book format and uses them to raise the reading proficiency of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. These multimedia e-books are designed to promote the development of reading fluency and English language learning. They also can be adjusted so that the user can follow along with a computer voiceover or can read aloud along with the voiceover.

"Our project is really focused on reading fluency," explained Robert Berdan, professor emeritus of Educational Psychology and Linguistics and director of the literacy program. "In these e-books we synchronize the voiceover and the text based on our earlier research identifying patterns with fluent readers. This grant will not only help us expand the range of materials that we have, it also will allow us to work with more children."

The literacy project works with the Center for Educational Technology and Learning at CSULB. Berdan guides the program with colleagues Carol Lord, an associate professor of Teacher Education and Linguistics, and Michael Fender, an assistant professor of Linguistics.

"Our goal through this project is to have a substantial impact on children and their literacy development. We've already seen the impact this project can have," Berdan noted. "Teachers ask, 'What's going on? Why are these students reading better?' We expect to see more of that."

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its signature program, Thinkfinity.org. In 2007, the foundation awarded more than $67.4 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad.

Verizon logoFor more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation

"A dollar a month may not seem like much, but it can go a long way to improving literacy skills and giving people the opportunity to succeed," said Elva Lima, vice president of strategic programs at Verizon. "Literacy is a key ingredient to a successful future, and Verizon is proud to partner with our customers to assist organizations that are providing needed literacy programs throughout California."