AT&T Awards $75,000 Contribution to Improve Educational Opportunities

AT&T Inc. has donated $75,000 to the Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ) to assist the nonprofit organization's efforts to boost the school performance of disadvantaged youth in the Parramore area in Orlando.

"Investing in programs that can make a true difference in the quality of life for Floridians, especially our children, is a real priority for the AT&T team," said Marshall Criser III, president of AT&T Florida. "We are committed to helping indispensable community-based organizations like the Parramore Kidz Zone by providing them with the tools needed to help the wonderful kids who participate in the program."

PKZ will use the AT&T contribution to enhance the computer capabilities at its Homework Room sites throughout the community and increase access for neighborhood children to the University of Central Florida's Digital U program. The money will also be used to expand tutoring services and academic-enrichment activities for all youth, develop and launch workshops to teach parents how to best interact with schools and teachers, and to expand peer-support activities to improve youth's attitudes toward succeeding in school and life.

PKZ, a grass-roots project launched in 2006 by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, provides Parramore children with pre-kindergarten education, health care, jobs, mentoring, tutoring and after-school programs -- such as sports, arts and technology programs -- to help ensure a smooth transition to adulthood.

The mission of PKZ, which is patterned after the nationally acclaimed Harlem Children's Zone in New York, is to transform Orlando's most distressed neighborhoods into a healthy place for children.

The Parramore Heritage Community, a 1.4-square-mile neighborhood in the heart of downtown Orlando, is home to 2,066 children, with 73 percent of them living in poverty. Children living in poverty are more likely than other children to perform below grade level in school, have high truancy and dropout rates, become teen parents and end up in child abuse and juvenile crime systems.