Last month the Houston Rockets Women’s Organization teamed up with Reliant and the Ladies for Literacy Guild of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation to host a community book drive at a home game during the NBA Playoffs. Not only did the Houston Rockets win the game on April 19, but also many local literacy organizations across the community won big. Thanks to the generosity of fans and Reliant employees, nearly 7,000 books were collected. Our partner literacy organizations, including Amaanah Refugee Services, Books Between Kids, Children’s Museum of Houston, Community Family Centers, Houston Area Urban League, Houston Center for Literacy, Houston Public Library Foundation, House of Charity, HYPE Freedom School, Kids’ Reading Room, Literacy Advance of Houston, Making It Better, Memorial Hermann, and Small Steps Learning Center, all received the books to support their programs and place them in the hands of children and adults across Houston.
Led by Co-Chairs Deborah Stavis and Anne Taylor, the Ladies for Literacy Guild's inaugural book drive quickly grew into an amazing grass roots affair that engaged many Guild members, their families, friends, co-workers, and the community at large. The book drive kicked off on February 15th at the Guild's annual meeting and ended on March 4th. During this time, members collected donated books from family and friends, their children's schools, retail outlets, and other creative ways. With the unparalleled help of Boy Scout Troups 55, 836 and 837, over 10,000 books were picked up from 5 Houston Public Library branches and delivered for storage and sorting to the Harris County Public Library. These books are earmarked for the Curiosity Cruiser and for future distribution to our literacy partners. Many thanks to the Guild members who participated in the book drive and the many donors across the city who contributed new and gently used books.
The Young Professionals Group of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation joined ConocoPhillips' New Hire Network on March 8th to hear from ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance and Foundation Chairman Neil Bush. The networking event took place at the ConocoPhillips headquarters in Houston and was attended by nearly 70 young professionals who interacted with the two leaders on a range of topics from career advice to the importance of literacy in the future of Houston. The attendees were exposed to new ways in which they could serve in their communities and play an active role in improving the lives and children and their families. The YPG event was yet another showcase of the many social and professional opportunities and benefits available to its members.
Stay tuned for more information on our next networking event that will be held in partnership with Love Advertising Founder and CEO Brenda Love at the company's new 16,000 square foot office space in the Heights. Love Advertising has generously partnered with the Foundation's Ladies for Literacy Guild on designing a one-of-a-kind 30-foot mobile library, called Curiosity Cruiser, that will be donated to the Harris County Public Library and hit the streets this summer to serve children in high need communities. YPG members will network with their peers and the team at Love Advertising and gain insights into some of the creative aspects of advertising.
Last September the Ladies for Literacy Guild unveiled a signature initiative called the Curiosity Cruiser, a one-of-a-kind mobile library that will hit the streets of Houston next summer in partnership with the Harris County Public Library. This 34’, custom library on wheels got a boost last month thanks to the generosity of CITGO and Marathon Oil Corporation. CITGO made a $25,000 commitment and will serve as the official fuel sponsor for the Curiosity Cruiser, and Marathon Oil Corporation donated 20 laptops to enable children to have access to technology in the Curiosity Cruiser’s education programs. We are grateful to receive these generous gifts in support of the Curiosity Cruiser.
For the second year in a row, Scholastic Book Fairs® has generously donated more than 14,000 books to the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation to place in the homes and hands of economically disadvantaged children across our city. The donation was made through the Scholastic’s All for Books program and the Scholastic Possible Fund, which was established as part of the company's Open a World of Possible reading initiative to provide donations of quality books to children in underserved communities. Through partnerships with local organizations, including Higher Impact Ministries, Houston Area Urban League, Kids Meals, Inc. and Making It Better, several thousand of the books donated by Scholastic Book Fairs® have already been distributed during events hosted for children in celebration of the holidays. We are deeply grateful to Scholastic Book Fairs® and our local literacy partners for helping to spread the joy of reading to so many children this holiday season.
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.
The laughter of second graders filled the school’s library as Iris Griffiths, wife of Bill Griffiths, Chairman and CEO of Quanex, animatedly read aloud The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. Children were able to take home a backpack filled with school supplies and books donated by EWI and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. The backpacks were distributed by Louie the Lightning Bug from CenterPoint Energy and Houston Texans cheerleaders.
Events like this are an ideal way to get students excited about reading and to provide them with foundational tools for reading success. To discover other ways to contribute to building a culture of literacy in Houston, please see our opportunities at https://www.connect4literacy.org/Volunteer_Now.
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.
The Houston Community ToolBank stewards an inventory of tools for lending to charitable organizations such as nonprofits, faith-based groups, schools, civic organizations, and neighborhood associations to increase the impact of their mission-related efforts in the community. VISTA members assisted other community volunteers at the ToolBank as they prepared multiple tool orders for various 9/11 service projects. “The Toolbank is an awesome resource for the Houston non-profit community,” said Foundation VISTA Maggie Spear. “I loved helping out in the warehouse with my VISTA colleague Ke Wallace, getting tools ready to be sent out to do good in the community.”
On Saturday, September 10, The Mission Continues facilitated service projects at Kashmere High School and Key Middle School. More than 200 volunteers cleaned and painted classrooms and began building school gardens and success centers. The success centers feature a counseling room with trained counselors, a food pantry, a clothing drop, health services, and a workforce and college-readiness development center. The renovations will attract more students and members of the community to these vital resources.
We recently teamed up with Wade Smith to help inspire a love of reading among children attending summer reading programs. Wade, a Texas native, is an NFL veteran, a former Pro-Bowler for the Houston Texans, and the founder of the Wade Smith Foundation.
Wade feels strongly about giving back to the communities that helped him succeed. He believes that the best way to do this is by encouraging school-aged children to become avid readers and inspiring them to earn a college degree. In keeping with his passion, Wade shared his personal story with children by reading his newly-released children’s book, Smitty Hits the Play Books, about his life as a child and juggling the priorities of school and football. Wade instilled in children that reading is cool and that no matter what they dream of becoming in life – even an NFL football player—reading is fundamental to their success.
Our appreciation goes out to Wade Smith for serving as a point of light and for making literacy a key priority through his Reading with the Pros program.
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.
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.