Verizon Grant to Help Buffalo School Children Read

Release Date: December 20, 2000 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Reading made easy through technology -- that's the plan behind a $100,000 gift from Verizon to a collaborative literacy project of the Center for Applied Technologies in Education at the University at Buffalo, the Buffalo Public Schools, Computers for Children and EPIC (Every Person Influences Children).

Verizon Group President Paul Crotty announced the gift today (Dec. 20, 2000) at a program in the Butler Carriage House, 672 Delaware Ave.

"The Verizon grant is part of our upstate initiative to improve literacy for young children in urban areas," said Crotty. "Literacy for the young translates into an educated adult workforce in the years ahead, strengthening the community and the economy."

Crotty said this project aims to improve the early literacy of Buffalo Public School students by providing them with computers in their homes and DSL Internet access, and building an online support system for parents and teachers.

Buffalo currently has the lowest level of literacy in New York State as measured by scores on the fourth grade English Language Arts (ELA) assessment and that's something Buffalo Schools Superintendent Marion Canedo wants to change.

"We are so pleased with Verizon's investment in Buffalo," said Canedo, "because it allows us to accomplish three things at once: increase student access to computers, provide community-wide support teaching reading and improve parent involvement with their children's teachers."

New York State Regent Robert Bennett added: "We define success as fourth-grade students doing better on the ELA. The regents have long said that technology is one great pathway to academic success and we hope that through great efforts like this, technology can help level the playing field in public education."

The pilot project will provide up to 70 desktop computers for the teachers and students in four classrooms at School 27 -- Hillary Park Academy -- to use at home. Students will keep the computers while enrolled at Hillary Park.

The not-for-profit Computers for Children will help refurbish the computers for home use. Buffalo high school students learning computer skills at Cisco Regional Training Academy will help maintain the computers should any problems arise. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education will donate extra computers for the selected classrooms.

The University at Buffalo Center for Applied Technologies in Education (CATE) will provide training to all students, parents and teachers throughout the project.

Donald Jacobs, director of CATE, said more gifts like Verizon's are needed to help the literacy project reach its goal -- providing high-quality support materials on a continuous basis in the home, libraries and community centers -- so parents can play a more active and informed role in their children's early literacy development.

"The overarching goal of this project is to develop and implement technologies that can deliver critically important literacy information to teachers, students and families anywhere, anytime," Jacobs added.

Current plans are to reach all teachers in kindergarten through grade four in the City of Buffalo and in other area schools by creating an online support system for teaching literacy with Internet-based resources. This would include digital video of best teaching practices, current research in literacy and an electronic bulletin board and chat room to link K-4 teachers regarding their efforts to improve literacy.

EPIC, the region's largest parent-education organization, will assist in the development and production of support materials for parents. EPIC also will assist in the design and offering of parent workshops to help parents with strategies for at-home support of student literacy.