August 14, 2002 11:00 pm

Verizon is giving away $20,000 to projects in Union and Wallowa counties.

The recipients are five non-profit groups — Wallowa County Business Facilitation, the Region 18 ESD, the Joseph School District, Enterprise Hometown Improvement Group and United Way of Union County.

The Hometown Improvement Group will receive $4,000 to expand its e-commerce community training and sales program. This program offers training and worldwide marketing opportunities to the local community, said Wendy Hansen, director of the group, in her application for the funds.

"The grant will expand the number of computer stations for trainees, create a comprehensive sales database and increase the trainer's hours," Hansen said.

The Joseph School District will use its $5,000 grant in a project it calls Career Pathways.

The money will be used to develop and implement a school-to-work program, integrate occupational and academic learning, link secondary and post-secondary education and ensure every student earns a high school diploma, according to the grant application from the district.

Superintendent Richard Graham said the project is designed to give students access to the local workplace through job shadowing opportunities, mentoring and work experience.

"In turn, the business community will spend time with students in the school setting, providing information about leadership, employment offerings, workplace responsibilities and other work-related topics," Graham wrote in the application.

The Wallowa County Education Service District will receive $6,000 for a project called "Tools to Connect."

Superintendent Ed Jensen said this grant would be used to assist the ESD with the purchase of a portable interactive white board and projector that will bring interactive technology to the classrooms in kindergarten through 12th grade and in the adult learning environments.

Wallowa County Business Facilitation will get a $3,000 grant for business mentoring. According to Northeast Oregon Economic Development District economic development specialist Marya Nowakowski, the grant will help provide free and confidential business mentoring to local people starting small businesses.

Clients will learn how to develop a good management foundation, learn about production of goods and services, marketing and financial planning and management.

United Way of Union County will receive $2,600 to purchase a printer to produce its own materials. This will save administrative costs, permitting more funds to go to direct services.

Verizon has scheduled a reception to award the grants for 10:30 a.m. Aug. 22 at Fishtrap, 400 E. Grant St., Enterprise, said Verizon external affairs manager Marilyn Hoggart.