Wilkes-Barre, January 12, 2016– SHINE of Luzerne County has received $10,000 from Verizon as part of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC). The presentation was made during a ceremony at Wilkes-Barre Area’s Heights Murray Elementary School by Frank Buzydlowski, Director of Government Affairs for Verizon in Pennsylvania, State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), Mary Kolessar, Director of SHINE of Luzerne County, and a dozen students who participate in the SHINE of Luzerne County after school program.

SHINE of Luzerne County began last fall in the Wilkes-Barre Area, Greater Nanticoke Area and Wyoming Valley West school districts and will expand to Hazleton later this year. The program, geared to grades K-8, focuses on a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum. Relying heavily on a STEAM core, SHINE links schools to homes to help children build a stronger academic and social foundation.

“Verizon is proud to participate in Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program in partnership with Wilkes University to help promote the value of education for families and children in Luzerne County and throughout Northeast Pennsylvania”, said Frank Buzydlowski, Director of State Government Affairs for Verizon in Pennsylvania. “The EITC program offers Verizon a great opportunity to give back to our communities and invest in educational initiatives that prepare children to meet the unique challenges of living and working in the 21st century’s technology-driven global economy.”

The PA (EITC) program provides companies with a 75% tax credit for donations to a non-profit scholarship or educational improvement organizations.

“SHINE is a successful program helping our school kids because it involves the entire community – schools, parents, public officials, and private companies,” Congressman Barletta said. “Verizon’s generous contribution will go a long way toward helping children achieve success, and have more opportunities at better futures.”

“Verizon is the latest in a growing list of private partners who are stepping forward to support SHINE of Luzerne County. SHINE’s unique private/public partnership model is central to our mission of building better schools, better communities and better families through the power of education,” said Senator Yudichak.

“SHINE’s success depends on the support of our partners in the community,” said Wilkes University President Patrick Leahy. “Verizon’s support helps to guarantee a bright future Luzerne County’s children and their families.”

“These funds will be put to good use as we continue to grow SHINE of Luzerne County. The positive response from the community has been very helpful as we implement the program,” said Mary Kolessar.

The Verizon donation follows the announcement last week of a major federal grant for SHINE of Luzerne County from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Grant Program totaling nearly $400,000 for each of the next three years. The federal funding is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and is one of fifty new 21st CCLC grant awards totaling $16.1 million for 2015-18 in Pennsylvania.

The SHINE program of Luzerne County is modeled after the successful Lehigh Carbon Community College SHINE program in Carbon and Schuylkill Counties.