RICHMOND, VA — A century ago, the most common way to show teacher appreciation was to bestow a shiny, red apple. But as a new school year begins, teachers at four, at-risk Richmond Public Schools are grateful for a different kind of gift: a $25,000 donation from the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Wireless.
Challenge Discovery Projects (CDP), a Richmond non-profit, has received $25,000 for the Say it With Heart Program, which works with students, parents and teachers to provide problem-solving skills to create physically and emotionally safe schools and homes. The grant is allowing CDP to expand services at Miles Jones and Norrell Elementary Schools, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and Armstrong High School.
The schools that will benefit from the grant are in high-risk areas with particularly high crime rates in the surrounding neighborhoods. During a six-month period in 2005, nine murders and two rapes occurred inside the 1,000-foot police "buffer zone" of Miles Jones Elementary. Say it With Heart promotes the development of emotional and relational skills that can prevent and reduce bullying and violent behavior. Students learn to identify and effectively address non-violent and violent bullying behaviors in themselves and others, reducing aggression and behavioral issues within the school, at home and in the community.
Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than $400 million in programs that support literacy and foster domestic violence awareness, prevention and recovery. The Verizon Wireless HopeLine® phone recycling program, created some 11 years ago, puts the company's wireless products and services to work to help victims of domestic violence. In addition to providing free wireless phones, service and voice mailboxes for victims, HopeLine provides grants to non-profit domestic violence organizations, supports community and corporate awareness initiatives and sponsors a bilingual "Invest in Yourself" program designed to help prepare survivors to re-enter the workforce.
"It is only through sustained social and relational skill development and support in all areas of our children's lives that maximum change will occur," said Pamela Siegel, author of the Say It With Heart curriculum for Challenge Discovery Projects. "We're grateful for this grant from the Verizon Foundation, and on behalf of all the children whose lives will be improved because of their generosity, I'd like to say thank you."
Steve Clementi of the Verizon Foundation said, "We're proud to be able to offer this support to Challenge Discovery Projects, which has made such a difference in the lives of Richmond area youth for the last 25 years. The only way proven way to break the cycle of violence is to reach at-risk kids and provide them with the tools they need to handle conflict in a positive way. This innovative program will do that for a group of young people who really need our support."
About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation awards grants to specific programs in four categories, including domestic violence prevention and help for victims, and programs that reach out to help underserved populations in the areas of workforce development, literacy and technology. Applications are accepted online at www.verizon.com/foundation.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 54.8 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.
About Challenge Discovery Projects
Challenge Discovery Projects is a Virginia-based non-profit that promotes the emotional and physical well-being of children across Virginia. Established in 1980, it provides community and school-based services for at-risk children, adolescents and their families. CDP is licensed by the state of Virginia to provide prevention, intervention and outpatient treatment. It provides and supervises these services by appropriately licensed professionals.