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A Great Educational Collaboration in Arkansas

Categories: Activities, Learning Disabilities, Parenting

On April 14 in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Learning Ally team gathered with leaders of the Verizon Foundation and officials from the Arkansas State Department of Education to celebrate the launch of a unique pilot program -- one that promises to benefit many students in the state's K - 12 population. Highlighting the long-planned gathering was a check presentation from the Verizon Foundation to Learning Ally -- just one day after our organization's official name change from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. Officials of Verizon, the Arkansas State Department of Education, and Learning Ally gathered for a check presentation to celebrate their new pilot program providing alternative learning assistance to K-12 students in the state Pictured left to right: Sherman Tate of Verizon Wireless; Steve Smith, President – South Central Region, Verizon Wireless; Mary Alexander of Learning Ally; Lori Lamb of the Arkansas Dept. of Education; Dr. Laura Bednar of the State Division of Learning Services; unidentified; Dr. C.W. Gardenhire of the ADE; David Russell, VP External Affairs, Verizon Communications; and Linda Mancini of Learning Ally.
Our joint press release with Verizon (issued to media in Arkansas) tells the story: LITTLE ROCK — April 14, 2011 — Learning Ally™ (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic), a 63-year old nonprofit organization serving over 300,000 individuals across the U.S. with learning differences and reading disabilities, announced that it has received a grant of $24,581 from the Verizon Foundation to fund a pilot program helping Arkansas students in kindergarten through 12th grade who can benefit from alternate learning techniques and reading strategies. The “Learning Through Listening” pilot program is being launched in collaboration with the Arkansas State Department of Education, and will operate on school campuses providing alternative learning environments. Students will receive their reading materials in an accessible audio format that enhances their comprehension. “We’re thrilled to be working with Verizon and Arkansas educators to put in motion a unique program that removes learning barriers for students who may not thrive in traditional classroom settings,” said Andrew Friedman, President and CEO of Learning Ally. “Research proves that when provided with alternative reading programs including audio and multi-sensory formats, students with learning differences can enjoy success in school and stay on track with their peers.” “The greatest investment you can give a child is a good education and communities must meet the needs of children who learn differently,” said Steve Smith, President – South Central Region of Verizon Wireless. “It is our hope that this donation not only meets the needs of students, but fosters a love for learning.” The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free educational website, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence. In 2008, the Verizon Foundation awarded more than $68 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. It also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in an additional $26 million in combined contributions to nonprofits. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation’s largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the Foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

      -Doug Sprei

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