The Verizon Foundation recently presented a $5,000 grant to the College of Staten Island’s Strategies for Success program to provide awards to students in the program. John Butler, Director, Government and External Affairs at Verizon, presented the check to CSI Vice President for Student Affairs A. Ramona Brown this week.

Strategies for Success is a service learning opportunity program sponsored by the SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge) Program at the College in which CSI students are paired with elementary and intermediate school-aged children at three after-school sites in the local community.

Regarding Verizon’s contribution to this program, Butler said, “Verizon is engaged in communities and giving back for all of our customers who have different needs. We feel that literacy is one of the basic forms of understanding that we can give someone in the community and by making that one of our staple issues for improving the community, we like to support programs like Strategies for Success.”

Gloria Garcia, SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge) Program Director, commented that “By providing this grant, Verizon has an instrumental role in CSI’s commitment to partner with the Staten Island community, and offer its students an opportunity where they can learn while giving back to their community.” She was joined at the presentation by Georgia Landrum, Director of SEEK Strategies for Success.

Creating Superior Students

Three current Strategies for Success students, Nada Abbass, Mira Kim, and Crystal Rios, and one former student, Rhagina Chisolm, who now serves as a site coordinator for the program, were also in attendance at the presentation. They were all very enthusiastic about the program’s impact, not only on themselves, but on the students they mentored.

Chisolm, who recently graduated from CSI and now supervises CSI student mentors, said, “The Strategies for Success Program is important to me because it has given me the opportunity to give back to a community of children who are less fortunate. At the same time it has helped me become a positive role model and a leader, not just to the students I serve, but to the college mentors who help me serve these students.”

Abbass commented, “Strategies for Success has affected my life in many ways. It has taught me to be more responsible, confident, and more outspoken. It has made me second guess my career choice and made me realize that I love working with students. It has opened my eyes to new things and helped me see that I can really make a difference in someone’s life.”

Kim agreed that the program has transformed her, while she helped students. “The Strategies for Success Program has impacted me in developing great leadership skills. As a mentor, there is nothing more rewarding than to see a change or creating a difference in a child’s life. The program is like a family, we all gather as one team when it comes to any concerns about our students’ needs.”

Rios, a graduate student in the program, added, “The Strategies for Success Program has made a tremendous impact on my career choice and personal life. I am currently going into my fifth year with the program, and every year I am gaining the knowledge, skills, confidence, and the necessary components to be a successful educator and influence the lives of students living in underprivileged communities and circumstances. As a tutor and mentor, I am able to give back and be a part of experiences that will positively change the lives of our future generations.”

The Significance of Verizon’s Support for Strategies and Beyond

The support from the Verizon Foundation is “vital to the success of the program as they reinforce to the college students the importance of their commitment to the children and the community,” Garcia commented. “Many of our college student participants are financially challenged; therefore, this opportunity provides them with much-needed economic support in addition to a hands-on work experience beyond the classroom.”

The overall goal of Strategies for Success is to promote the development and application of effective learning strategies and study skills essential to academic success within the population of economically disadvantaged college students and Title I public school children. Strategies is committed to helping the community and bringing students of different levels (college, intermediate, and elementary) together in an environment that aims to instill attitudes, feelings, and values which promote learning, critical thinking, and academic success. The program serves approximately 300 school children per year, and approximately 40 college students participate as mentors in the program each year.

In 2009, the Verizon Foundation awarded more than $67.5 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 $24.4 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 five million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit

In addition, the Verizon Foundation supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free educational Website,, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence. Through this program, THINKFINITY is being introduced to teachers in both IS 49 and PS 57 as a free educational resource that will also be made available to students.

Verizon's John Butler (back row, third from right) met with students, administrators, and staff.