JULY 2016

Dear Houston Community
Dr. Julie Baker Finck with children at
HYPE Freedom School.

Two years ago we released a special report entitled  Houston's Literacy Crisis: A Blueprint for Community Action ("the Blueprint"). Since that time, we have continued to strengthen alliances with cross-sector stakeholders on implementing evidence-based strategies outlined in the Blueprint and making progress towards achieving the bold literacy goals established in partnership with the Houston community. Through probono expertise from DeloitteLLP we recently released a two-year Biannual Report on the Foundation's impact and a Strategic Plan outlining key goals and strategies that support the Blueprint. I encourage you to learn about our accomplishments and the work that lies ahead on our brand new website,  BushHoustonLiteracy.org

As you'll discover in this edition of The Literacy Connection, we have invested in community impact by executing an important Blueprint strategy: increase children's access to high-quality, summer literacy programs. Doing so is critical to combating summer learning loss that oftentimes negatively impacts the academic achievement of disadvantaged children and English Language Learners. Through partnerships with companies, schools, and faith and nonprofit organizations, we are helping to provide children opportunities to participate in summer literacy programs and to receive books to read and own. We are grateful to the more than 200 JP Morgan Chase, Phillips 66, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Schlumberger, and Target volunteers who are serving as mentors to children participating in summer literacy camps.

All of this work and more would not be possible without the support of our donors, as well as the commitment of our literacy and community partners. I encourage you to join us in our quest to improve lives through the power of literacy. In the words of Barbara Bush, "Everyone can do something." Visit our website or contact us to learn about what you can do. Thank you, in advance, for serving as a point of light for others.

Warmest Regards,

Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.
Marathon Oil Provides Extreme Technology Makeover

From left: Marathon Oil's Kathleen Sauve and
John Sanchez with Dr. Julie Baker Finck and
FHPL Program Manager Rose Hinojosa.

Through the generosity of Marathon Oil, Friends of the Houston Public Library will be able to expand their volunteer capacity and process the nearly one million reclaimed library and other donated books at a faster, more efficient rate. Donated books are sold to the public, and proceeds from the books support important library programs throughout the city. Prior to receiving the computer donation, the Friends of the Houston Public Library had been using 15-year-old computers and desperately needed new technology. 

Through a partnership with the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, Marathon Oil donated 32 laptop computers, monitors and other peripherals. Marathon Oil is a strong supporter of education and of the Foundation. "Our long partnership with the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation reinforces our focus on funding education programs that strengthen our community. By connecting Marathon Oil with the Friends of the Houston Public Library, we not only found a wonderful home for our surplus computers, but we are also helping a program that fosters a love of reading," said Kathy Sauvé, manager of corporate communications and philanthropy for Marathon Oil. If your company has surplus computers that could benefit literacy organizations in Houston, please contact us. Also, find out where to donate your used books here.

Children in the South Park and Sunnyside Communities 
are Getting "HYPED" Up 

Left: Children explore books they'll be reading this summer.
Center: HYPE Freedom School intern Jarvis Hodges stands with boys he teaches. 
Right: HYPE Freedom School children are all smiles. 

This summer, more than 100 children in south Houston are attending HYPE Freedom School, a program designed by the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools' model aimed at combating "summer slide" and accelerating academic achievement. Engaging literacy-based activities are centered on five essential components: high-quality academic enrichment, parent and family involvement, civic engagement and social action, inter-generational leadership development, and nutrition, health and mental health.

"At HYPE, scholars are able to gain an appreciation and love for learning so they can return to school prepared and motivated to always do their best," says Brandi Brown, executive director for HYPE Freedom School, Inc. According to the Children's Defense Fund National Assessment, children who participated in the 2015 HYPE program improved their reading level by an average of seven months during the six-week period. We are proud to provide financial support to HYPE Freedom School, Inc., to ensure that children have access to high-quality summer learning programs that are centered on strong reading skill-building. Learn more about HYPE Freedom School, Inc

Deloitte Makes an Impact that Matters to Houston Children

Deloitte employee volunteer along with Cunningham Elementary teacher and principal work with children on Impact Day.

Each year Deloitte holds a nationwide day of service, called Impact Day, to celebrate  its year-round commitment to local communities. In Houston alone, approximately 1,000 Deloitte employees support area nonprofit and community-based organizations through Impact Day events held  on June 10. Their mission this year was "Make an Impact that Matters" and for the third year in a row, Impact Day included a focus on literacy.

We proudly teamed up with more than 100 Deloitte team members who planned and delivered a full day of literacy activities for students attending Cunningham, Ross and Foster elementary schools in HISD. Students engaged in reading, writing, comprehension, vocabulary, art and other activities to strengthen their literacy skills while having fun. Each child was able to take home a brand new book to read thanks to the generosity of Deloitte. Learn more about Deloitte's commitment to corporate citizenship and the literacy cause. 

Members of Our Young Professionals Group Join in Service

Left: YPG members network while making an impact.
Right: YPG members count and box books that will be donated to children. 

On Saturday, June 18, members of the Foundation's Young Professional Group (YPG) joined in service by volunteering their time at the Friends of the Houston Public Library warehouse. YPG members, including the 2016 Jungle Book Gala Honorary Chair Lucas Somoza, divided into groups to sort, process, and list books for sale. The volunteers processed 1,500 books, prepared another 2,000 for donation, and listed $2,300 worth of books for sale on Amazon. All proceeds from the sales support Houston Public Library programs.

We are grateful to the YPG members for their commitment, and we invite other young professionals in Houston who are interested in meeting new friends while making a difference to learn more and join the YPG. Would you like to volunteer at the Friends of the Houston Public Library? Sign up at Connect4Literacy.org today.

Point of Light: Jimmy Greenwood 

Jimmy with students at Kashmere Gardens Elementary School participating in the Summer Reading Camp.

Jimmy Greenwood, a native Houstonian, has always had a passion for community service. As a son of parents who have been outstanding roles models, he was taught at a young age that it is the responsibility of the more fortunate to help out those who are less fortunate. He feels very passionate about making a difference in the lives of young children and for them to have the same opportunities that he had as a child. Jimmy says, "I had a very blessed childhood due to my supportive parents. Every child deserves to have someone encouraging them to learn along the way."

Instantly knowing he was called to make a difference in the Houston community, Jimmy began volunteering at Agape Development Ministries in Houston's Historic 3 rd Ward as a youth.   Jimmy is now currently a senior at The University of Texas at Austin and is happy to be back in his hometown for the summer while working as an intern for JPMorgan Chase. Through JPMorgan Chase, he is volunteering as a mentor at the Summer Reading Camp hosted at Kashmere Gardens Elementary School. "I am thankful that JPMorgan Chase has summer interns volunteer together. It has allowed everyone to get to know each other on a deeper level. It is an awesome feeling to know that the company is part of something bigger in the community."

Jimmy recognizes that every child at the camp wants to learn, but that each child learns in a slightly different way. "Some campers are not comfortable reading in front a classroom, so I work with them one-on-one. This is when I feel like I am really making a difference. It makes me think: If I would have not served as a volunteer, a boy or girl could have fallen through the cracks, because no one would have been there to give them the extra attention they needed."

It brings Jimmy great joy to volunteer with second and third graders at the Summer Reading Camp. He explains how he thought the camps were very beneficial because the "activities make students think critically by having them draw their interpretation of a story on a poster board." Every small deed is making a big difference in the community. Thank you, Jimmy, for being a point of light for others to follow.

Summer Reading Challenge Issued

Did you know that when children read at least four books during the summer, they are less likely to be impacted by summer learning loss? Simple strategie s like this and reading aloud to children every day for at least 15 minutes can have a profound impact on their academic success. That is why we are proud to partner with the Children's Museum of Houston , BBVA Compass , Higher Impact Ministries , HISD and the Independence Heights Minister's Alliance on the Summer Reading Challenge hosted by the " Lifting through Literacy" coalition. 

Through this partnership, children attending summer school at Burrus, Kennedy, Roosevelt, Highland Heights, Wesley, and Osborne elementary schools in HISD received Scholastic® Summer Book Packs filled with books to read and keep, along with a journal to complete. In addition, BBVA Compass provided each child with a Future Builders Pack containing a Fit Bit™, calculator, pencils, and more. The children also received a Family Pass courtesy of the Children's Museum of Houston so that they may visit the museum and engage in fun-filled, interactive learning exhibits. Issue your child a summer reading challenge and help him or her meet the challenge by assisting in the selection of books they will enjoy and by encouraging them to read and share with you.