March 2017
Mrs. Barbara Bush and Dr. Julie Finck kick off literacy initiative with Saintly Stitchers at St. Martin's Episcopal Church and Harris Health System's Ben Taub and
Lyndon B. Johnson hospitals.
Dear Houston Community

While there is no vaccination against low literacy when a child is born, there is substantial research on the need for this vital prescription to be issued to families: Read aloud for at least 15 minutes or more every day with your child from birth through elementary school. This month is National Read Aloud Month, so we have partnered with Phillips 66 and organizations across Houston to spread this important message to families.

Research shows that reading aloud is the single most important activity adults can engage in with children to develop critical pre-literacy skills, such as vocabulary and letter recognition, as well as to foster strong comprehension and fluency skills as children learn how to read. Reading books also exposes children to words and concepts extending beyond typical conversation or through digital media.

Reading aloud also stimulates brain activity. During the first three years of life, a child's brain makes trillions of connections, the fastest it will ever grow. In fact, by age five, a child's brain has reached 90 percent of its mature size. Thus, the early years of a child's life are a critical time for teaching and learning. Unfortunately, fewer than half of children age five and under are read aloud to each day, and many children simply lack the basic tools - books - to become readers and develop a love for reading.

Help us celebrate National Read Aloud Month by doing one or more of the following: (1) become a reading mentor in a school, library or nonprofit near you at;
(2) spread the word about the importance of reading aloud 15 minutes each day by sharing this newsletter with friends and family; and 
(3) sponsor a child's home library with your tax-deductible donation through our My Home Library initiative. 

Take it from Dr. Seuss in his book The Lorax: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Thank you for caring and making a difference in March!

With warm regards,

Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.

With your tax-deductible donation of only $30, you can help us reach our goal of providing 560 low-income children in Houston books through our My Home Library project just in time for Spring Break reading. My Home Library is an initiative of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation aimed at providing more children access to books in the home. Children log onto the My Home Library website to create a wish list of books to build their home library. Then, members of the community sponsor a child's library of six books with a tax-deductible donation of only $30.

We are grateful for the generous donors who have already sponsored children through My Home Library. We encourage you to donate today to help a child in need have the right tools - books - to build strong literacy skills and foster a love of reading. Thank you for your support.

In the suspenseful memoir, Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice, Founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, Bill Browder shares his tale of an accidental activist. Browder's company, Hermitage Capital Management, was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005. In 2009 Browder's lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was murdered in prison after uncovering a $230 million fraud committed by Russian government officials.

Since then, Browder has been leading a campaign to expose Russia's endemic corruption and human rights abuses. Red Notice, a New York TimesĀ® bestseller was released in 2015 and is based on his personal account of his campaign to expose corruption and of his discovery to his purpose in life along the way. Bill Browder will be sharing the stage at our 2017 A Celebration of Reading event with best-selling authors, comedian Jim Gaffigan and contemporary American author Sue Grafton. 

Click below to read more about these amazing authors and to purchase tickets or tables for our 23rd annual A Celebration of Reading event, which is to be held on April 20, 2016 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush enter the field to lead the coin toss at Super Bowl LI.
Photo Credit: Greg Shamus, Getty Images.

The Houston Super Bowl Host Committee, in partnership with the Super Bowl Foundation and the Greater Houston Community Foundation, has selected us to receive a grant through the Touchdown Houston ReadOn! legacy initiative. Funds from this generous award will provide needed resources to support families and children in third grade and younger in five high-need neighborhoods across Houston. The grant will involve expanding access of family literacy programs in low-income communities; increasing the number of low-income children participating in summer literacy programs; building home libraries for low-income children; and mobilizing volunteers in support of literacy programs across our city. 

We are proud to collaborate with the following organizations on this important initiative to create a culture of reading and improve literacy rates: Harris County Public Library, Higher Impact Ministries, Houston Area Urban League, Houston Housing Authority, Houston Independent School District, Houston Public Library, Houston Public Library Foundation, iWrite Literacy Organization, Making It Better, and My Brother's Keeper Houston.

Betty Hrncir and Ginger Blanton.
Ladies for Literacy Guild President Betty Hrncir recently unveiled that Founding Member Ginger Blanton will serve as Chair of the second annual Power of Literacy Luncheon to be held on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at the River Oaks Country Club. Ginger and her family have been involved in many civic endeavors and have advanced important causes in our community and across Texas, particularly in the areas of the arts and education. 

"We are grateful for Ginger's commitment to serve as Chair of the Power of Literacy Luncheon," said Betty Hrncir. "Her experience leading charitable events in our community and her passion for philanthropy will be invaluable to the success to our signature fundraiser."
More than 50 members and guests of our Young Professionals Group gathered at H-E-B's Table 57 to network and hear from Scott McClelland, President of H-E-B Houston and former Chair of the Greater Houston Partnership's Education Committee. Scott discussed the family-owned company's focus on helping to improve the quality of life of its customers by providing low-cost, high-quality products. Scott then shifted his focus on how low education and low literacy rates have impacted the way he trains employees and why he is such an advocate for public education. Scott said, "I believe that every child, regardless of their zip code or the family circumstances in which he or she was born, should be afforded equal access to a high-quality education." He also shared the dire statistics about low graduation rates and noted that the company recently revised its training manual to be written at a 4th grade reading level from the 8th grade reading level, "which is quite frankly going in the wrong direction," he remarked.
Scott McClelland shares insights at recent Young Professionals Group networking event. 

Scott McClelland with YPG leaders. 

Join us at our next networking event scheduled for 6:00 PM on March 8th at ConocoPhillips' headquarters, featuring special guests Ryan Lance, ConocoPhillips CEO, and Neil Bush, Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation Chairman

Wade and Rita Smith, Adrian Grenier, Julie and Ron Finck, Maria Ho, and Whitney Mercilus on the red carpet at the Bulls and Blackjack charity event.
On February 2nd, athletes and celebrities helped raise more than $170,000 for local charities at the Bulls & Blackjack event hosted by Elevate Management Group at the lovely home of Staci Henderson and Dr. Quang. Proceeds from the evening benefited three local foundations working to improve the lives of children in our city, including the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, WithMerci Foundation and the Wade Smith Foundation
3rd grade Treasure Elementary students eagerly hold up the new books given to them by The Young Professionals Group (YPG).

On February 10 th, members of the YPG Partnerships and Service Committees held a Fall in Love with Reading assembly to kick off the YPG's new partnership with  Treasure Forest Elementary School's 3rd Grade Classes. Members introduced themselves to the students and shared all of the exciting activities they plan to engage in throughout the rest of the school year. During the assembly, YPG member Matt read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs aloud to the students and other members of the YPG engaged them in interacting with the books by making rain and thunder sounds with their hands. At the conclusion of the assembly, each student received a special bookmark and brand new book to take home. Classrooms were provided with school supplies generously donated by many YPG members as well as our wonderful partners, Transwestern and Phillips66! The YPG looks forward to many more exciting events and volunteer opportunities with Treasure Forest Elementary School.