Dr. Julie Baker Finck at the Groomed for Literacy launch at Scenic Woods Library.

Creating a culture of reading success across our city is possible, and I am more confident than ever that it is within our reach. Why am I a believer, you might ask? I'm convinced that we will solve the literacy crisis in our city because more and more Houstonians are stepping up to play a role in making it happen and are joining a movement to stomp out illiteracy.

Barbara Bush believes, "Everyone can do something." Find your "something" with us. Whether through your company, a civic or faith group, or as a family or individual, we need you to help create a culture of reading to lift literacy rates. Be a point of light for others to follow and make a difference through service to others.

Foundation Honored with National Award for Excellence

From left: Jose Calvillo, Sara Amin, Wendy Spencer, 
Julie Baker Finck, Max Finberg, Glenn Goodrich.
The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is the recipient of the 2016 Tom Harkin Excellence Award for Best New Program Design from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. CNCS created the Tom Harkin Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards in honor of Senator Tom Harkin, a lifelong champion of national service, to recognize the outstanding and innovative AmeriCorps programs tackling our nation's most pressing challenges.

Groomed For Literacy Initiative Launched

Child reads while receiving haircut from volunteer with Franklin Barber Institute at kickoff event.
We are excited to partner with the Houston Public Library (HPL), Put It In a Book FoundationLittle Free Libraries and Friends of the Houston Public Library on a new and innovative program called Groomed for LiteracyGroomed for Literacy aims to address the literacy gap for underserved youth, with specific emphasis on young boys of color. The mission of this program is to support barbers in serving as reading mentors and to distribute books to children in need.

Research has shown that only one book is available for every 300 children in low-income areas, as opposed to 13 books, on average, in homes of middle-and-high income children. Unfortunately, books are a luxury that many families cannot afford, yet they are essential to a child's development.  

Signature Initiative Revealed

The Ladies for Literacy Guild of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation revealed a signature initiative during the Power of Literacy Luncheon. Owlbotron and his sidekick, Northtale , will hit the streets next summer in their Curiosity Cruiser . Children in low-income neighborhoods will have amazing learning experiences through this one-of-a-kind mobile library. The Curiosity Cruiser will be a high-tech, mobile library that will gain instant street credibility and become known for its innovative and engaging educational programs. 

In addition, the Curiosity Cruiser will help children build their own home libraries and provide opportunities for them to participate in reading clubs and other creative activities. They, too, will discover the power literacy has to transform them into the extraordinary and help them reach their dreams. We are confident that Owlbotron and Northtale with their Curiosity Cruiser will be a big hit and make a big impact on low-income children.
Addressing Dyslexia in Houston

October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month, so we are bringing awareness to this learning disability by sharing important facts about dyslexia and information on what is being done in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) to identify and serve dyslexic children. Dyslexia is a learning disability "characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities" (International Dyslexia Association). Recent scientific research supports dyslexia as a neurodevelopmental disorder. It is estimated as many as 40 million Americans suffer with dyslexia, yet only about two million are actually diagnosed.

"I found myself struggling with schoolwork at a young age, and it took some time for my teachers to recognize that I suffered from dyslexia. My mother was so involved in discovering a way for me to succeed despite the challenges I faced. Without her support and perseverance, I would have been in an entirely different place academically." Neil Bush, Foundation Chairman. 

Inaugural Power of Literacy Luncheon a Huge Success

From left: Stephanie Tsuru, Betty Hrncir, Alice Mosing, and Trish Morille
On September 14th, the newly-chartered Ladies for Literacy Guild of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation hosted its inaugural Power of Literacy Luncheon , chaired by Alice Mosing, at the River Oaks Country Club. 425 founding members of the guild and community members were in attendance at the luncheon which recognized September as National Literacy Awareness Month and featured keynote speaker, Dr. Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the University of Washington's Institute for Brain Sciences. Dr. Kuhl shared her innovative research on how early exposure to language alters the brain and demonstrated that the timing of such exposure early and often in life from birth can play a major role in determining future learning and success of children.

KPRC Anchor Rachel McNeill served as emcee for the event which raised nearly $265,000 to support literacy programs in the community, including a signature initiative of the Ladies for Literacy Guild unveiled during the luncheon. 
AmeriCorps VISTA National Day of Service

Over 7,000 Americans currently serve as members of the AmeriCorps VISTA program, and during the week of September 11, all of them participated in various national day of service events in their cities. The VISTAs serving with the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation dedicated their day of service at Houston Community ToolBank and a service project led by The Mission Continues in the Kashmere community on Houston's northeast side.

Foundation President Receives Childhood Literacy Legacy Award

Wade Smith with wife Rita, along with
Julie and Ron Finck.
The Foundation's very own Dr. Julie Baker Finck was recently honored by our friends at the Wade Smith Foundation.

Dr. Finck was chosen for the 2016 Childhood Literacy Legacy Award "in recognition of extraordinary contributions to improving childhood literacy throughout the Greater Houston Area." 

In response to the recognition, Dr. Finck said she is  "very honored to receive this special award from the Wade Smith Foundation. Wade is doing incredible work with children across our city, and I'm very blessed that he is a partner in championing the literacy cause."

Join Us for the 2017 A Celebration of Reading

Sponsorship and tickets for the 2017 event are
now available.
Click image of Neil and Maria to purchase tickets
and sponsorships.
Children Celebrate New School Library Reading Nook

Students at Foster Elementary in HISD enjoying their new books and backpacks.
We proudly joined forces with the Quanex Foundation and the Houston chapter of Executive Women International to celebrate reading by holding a reading rally and unveiling a brand new "Jungle Nook" at Foster Elementary School. The "Jungle Nook," designed and donated by the Quanex Foundation, is a cozy place in which students can relax and read under beautifully designed palm trees and alongside monkeys, a zebra and a giraffe. 

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