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American Indian Day School Wins First National Verizon Tech Savvy Award


In a small day school in the northeast corner of South Dakota, teachers are helping American Indian parents write and produce simple children’s books to help keep the Dakotah language alive.

At the same time, the teachers are also helping to close the digital gap between the generations by introducing the parents to the new world of technology -- the Internet, digital cameras and publishing software – that their children use all the time.

For these efforts, the Enemy Swim Day School in Waubay, S.D., has been named the national winner of the first Verizon Tech Savvy Awards and honored with a $25,000 award to continue and expand the school’s program.

The school will receive its award Monday evening (March 5) at a banquet at the 16th annual National Conference on Family Literacy, hosted by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), in Orlando, Fla.

The Verizon Tech Savvy Awards are a joint creation of the NCFL, former First Lady of Iowa Christie Vilsack and the Verizon Foundation. It is the first national award designed to provide an incentive for grassroots, community-based nonprofit organizations and schools to create programs that demystify technology for parents, enabling them to better guide their children in the use of new media.

“Closing the digital divide between parents and their children is paramount to helping parents be a more relevant influence in their children’s lives and a more meaningful advocate for their children’s education,” said Vilsack, a Verizon Literacy Champion.

In addition to the national winner, four other programs around the country will receive regional awards and $5,000 each at the banquet. The regional winners are:

-Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative, in Providence, R.I., for a program that teams an English-as-a-second-language teacher with a technology instructor and a children’s teacher to increase parents computer and technology skills while improving English comprehension skills.

-Iowa Central Community College, in Fort Dodge, Iowa, for its program that teaches parents how to use the Internet to communicate with their children’s teachers through e-mail, learn about the Web sites their children visit, and enhance writing and basic computer skills.

-Forrest Outreach Foundation, in Addison, Texas, for its Click-For-Success program, which offers weekly computer club classes and home visits where mentors help parents and children work together to improve computer skills.

-LTSC Community Development Corporation, in Los Angeles, for its DISKovery Angelina program, which helps immigrants learn to use computers to navigate the challenges of everyday life, including finding public transportation, child care programs and legal services.

“To truly improve literacy and education for the 21st century, we need a comprehensive approach that reaches beyond the classrooms and into community programs and homes,” said Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston. “These programs are prime examples of how technology can be used to spread educational opportunities to ensure a brighter future for our communities.”

In addition to the Verizon Tech Savvy Awards presentation, those attending the banquet will be treated to a live short story improvisation by legendary actor James Earl Jones and 9-year-old literary prodigy Adora Svitak.

The pair, with the help of technology such as digital cameras, cell phones and an Internet blog, will work with the audience to create a new twist on a children’s classic, “Robinson Crusoe.” Verizon Chief Information Office Shaygan Kheradpir will lead the audience through the exercise, demonstrating how technology can affect the creative process.

“This is another example of how multiple generations are critical to the learning process for the entire family,” NCFL President & Founder Sharon Darling said. “Together, they can build a stronger foundation for education and lifelong success. In the 21st century, technology must undoubtedly be a main component of education.”

Details of the programs honored at the Verizon Tech Savvy Awards will be added to the Verizon Literacy Network to serve as an educational resource, highlighting best practices and approaches for technology literacy for people of all ages.

Those resources can be accessed online at

Thinkfinity is the Verizon Foundation’s signature digital learning platform, combining authoritative, standards-based K-12 educational content and robust professional development with research and evidence-based resources and practices for literacy across the lifespan.

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery. In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions. Under the foundation’s Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation’s largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees have also contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon’s inception in 2000.

For more information on the foundation, visit

The National Center for Family Literacy is the worldwide leader in family literacy. More than one million families have made positive educational and economic gains as a result of NCFL’s work, which includes training more than 150,000 teachers and thousands of volunteers. For more information, contact 1-877-FAMLIT-1 or visit

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, serving more than 59 million customers nationwide. Verizon’s Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which operates one of the most expansive wholly owned global IP networks, and Verizon Telecom, which is deploying the nation’s most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers. A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of approximately 242,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion. For more information, visit


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