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Published in Press Releases on February 01, 2010 (PDF)

Comcast foundation awards grant to Friends of Children's Hospital for the Reach out and Read program

By Nicole Wyatt

The Comcast Foundation has awarded a $20,000 grant to Friends of Children's Hospital for the Reach Out and Read (ROR) program at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children. The primary goal of ROR is to make literacy promotion a standard part of pediatric primary care so that children grow up with books and a love of reading.

"The Mississippi Comcast systems are extremely excited that our Foundation funded this grant for the Reach Out and Read Program at Children's Hospital. This donation solidifies our long term commitment to Mississippi, as Comcast was founded in Tupelo," said Ronnie Colvin, Vice-President/General Manager for the Comcast Jackson Area.

The grant is part of Comcast's commitment to the communities where its customers and employees live and work. Since its founding in 1999, the Comcast Foundation has distributed more than $77 million to programs in Comcast communities. "This is not just a grant but an investment in the future of our state" said Sidney Allen, Jr., Director of State Government Affairs for Comcast.

Comcast is a longtime supporter of Friends of Children's Hospital and Batson Hospital. They sponsor the Trustmark Children's Hospital Golf Tournament and An Evening with the Mannings. Comcast also donates airtime and services for commercials encouraging viewers to buy a Batson car tag.

At least 35% of children entering kindergarten today lack the basic language skills they will need to learn to read, and fewer than half of parents in the United States read to their young children daily. Also, parents of children living in poverty may lack the money to buy books, may not have easy access to good children's books, and may not themselves have been read to as children, with the result that millions of children are growing up without books. This grant makes it possible for Batson to purchase and distribute books to children visiting the clinics.

Dr. Susan Buttross, professor of pediatrics and chief of child development, said the ROR program began at Batson by giving books to patients instead of balloons or candy. "The ability for children to read is the ability for them to succeed," Buttross said.