Dear Houston Community

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.

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.

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 Connect4Literacy.org;

(2) spread the word about the importance of reading aloud 15 minutes each day by sharing this article 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.
President

Ginger Blanton to Serve as 2017 Power of Literacy Chair

Betty Hrncir and Ginger Blanton. 

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.”

“I am honored to serve as this year’s Power of Literacy Luncheon Chair,” remarked Ginger Blanton. “The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is doing incredibly important work in the community, and the Ladies for Literacy Guild is playing a key role in advancing the Foundation’s mission and carrying forth the legacy of Mrs. Bush, with whom I have the utmost respect and admiration. Last year’s inaugural event was a huge success, and I have no doubt that the Guild members and community will come together in an even bigger way to support the literacy cause in our community.”

The inaugural Power of Literacy Luncheon in 2016, chaired by Guild member Alice Mosing, raised more than $265,000. Proceeds support the Ladies for Literacy Guild activities in the community, including the Curiosity Cruiser, a one-of-a-kind mobile library that will hit the streets this summer in partnership with the Harris County Public Library and provide much-needed educational programming and books to economically disadvantaged children across Houston. 

Athletes and Celebrities Gather for Bulls and Blackjack Charity Event

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.

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 FoundationWithMerci Foundation and The Wade Smith Foundation.

Along with Vegas-style entertainment and cocktails by Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, Peska Seafood Culture Chef Omar Pereney and Grazia Italian Kitchen Chef Steve Haug brought the best of both land and sea with heavily passed hor d'oeuvres. The tournament was produced by Houston’s premium poker and casino vender, iHostPoker. 

Guests included Neil and Maria Bush, Ray Lewis, Adrian Peterson, Whitney Mercilus, Stephanie Henderson and Dr. Quang, Adrian Grenier, Wade Smith, Maria Ho, Owen Daniels, Arian Foster, Quentin Demps, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, Kevin Walter, Travis Johnson, Roger Clemens, Jacoby Jones, Vonta Leach, Jonathan Vilma, Duane Brown, David Diehl, and Chester Pitts.

Check out event photos on our Facebook page.

DEAR HOUSTON COMMUNITY

Dr. Finck and Emily give a big smile and thumbs up after creating her My Home Library wish list. 

Dr. Finck and Emily give a big smile and thumbs up after creating her My Home Library wish list. 

Meet Emily, a second-grade student at Browning Elementary School. Emily loves to read, particularly biographies about prominent historical figures and adventure and fantasy books. She is one of more than 550 children in the school who have created wish lists as part of the My Home Library pilot initiative we launched in January. Like all wish lists that have been created online through the custom-designed website, Emily's wish list contains six books she wants to read at home and keep for her very own home library. Her list includes books such as I am Abraham Lincoln written by Brad Meltzer and Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach.

Ninety percent of the children in Emily's school are considered economically disadvantaged based on their family's level of income. In fact, more than 84 percent of children in the Houston Independent School District-the largest district in Texas and the 7th largest in America-are economically disadvantaged. Simply put, for many children right here in Houston, books are a luxury their families simply can't afford. Yet, research shows that when children have access to books in their homes, they read more often and have higher reading achievement levels. Moreover, books in the home are a key factor in determining future success and mitigating setbacks in reading achievement evidenced during summer months. Summertime book access in the home is particularly imperative because children without books in the home lose two to three months of reading proficiency, while children who have access to books in the home actually gain reading proficiency.

I believe that everyone has the right to learn how to read. To ensure equity of opportunity for reading success, the book gap in our city must be closed. Visit MyHomeLibraryHouston.org today to sponsor a child's home library of six books with your $30 tax-deductible donation. Help make children like Emily's wish to have their very own home library come true. Your support is deeply appreciated. I look forward to sharing photos of the home library give-away in our March newsletter.

Sincerely, 

 

Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.
President

SCOTT MCCLELLAND TO SHARE INSIGHTS WITH YOUNG PROFESSIONALS GROUP

Scott McClelland stands with H-E-Buddy. 

Scott McClelland stands with H-E-Buddy. 

We are calling on all young professionals to join us Wednesday, February 8, from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM at H-E-B's Table 57 for a special networking event with special guest, Scott McClelland. Scott is most commonly known as "The H-E-B Guy" and is recognized widely for featuring Houston Texans' player JJ Watt in the grocery chain's brand commercials. Although it's exciting and fun that this corporate executive spends time hanging out with JJ and other prominent sports figures to push produce and prime meats through creative and comical advertisements, products are not the only thing Scott's been pushing these days.  While a focus on the bottom line is critical in his role as president of H-E-B's Houston division, Scott also devotes significant time and political capital pushing for reforms to increase the quality and accessibility of early childhood education for all little Texans, regardless of their zip code. As a family man with a beautiful wife, two children, and four grandchildren under the age of four, Scott recognizes that education is the great equalizer and the means through which individuals, families and communities can thrive and prosper. Education, he knows, starts from the time a child is born, not when children enter the hallowed walls of a school.

Meet Scott in person and hear what he has to say on February 8. There is no fee to attend this event, and refreshments will be provided. YPG members and guests are encouraged to donate school supplies to be distributed to children at Treasure Forest Elementary School in Spring Branch ISD. For more information about this event and to RSVP (required), please contact Amanda Tenzer, Events and Special Projects Manager, at Amanda@BushHoustonLiteracy.org or 346-212-2310.
 

Ladies for Literacy Guild to Host Inaugural Book Drive


The Ladies for Literacy Guild of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is hosting an inaugural Book Drive to collect new and gently used children's books to help close the book gap for economically disadvantaged children across Houston. The Ladies for Literacy Guild Book Drive is led by Deborah Stavis, CEO of Stavis and Cohen, LLP, and Anne Taylor, Managing Partner at Deloitte. More than 240 members strong, this dynamic group of women has set a goal to collect 10,000 children's books during the Book Drive which will take place through March 2, 2017. Books collected through the Book Drive will stock the Curiosity Cruiser, a one-of-a-kind mobile library, which will hit the streets this summer, serving children pre-kindergarten through grade 8.

The Curiosity Cruiser is a signature initiative of the Ladies for Literacy Guild in partnership with the Harris County Public Library and is sponsored by Phillips 66 and CITGOLove Advertising and Credera are both contributing pro-bono services in the design and branding of the mobile library.

If you have new or gently used children's books to donate, please contact us at 346-212-2310 or info@bushhoustonliteracy.org to obtain information on drop off locations for your donated books.
 

Dear Houston Community

First Lady Barbara Bush with Foundation President Dr. Julie Baker Finck

First Lady Barbara Bush with Foundation President Dr. Julie Baker Finck

Happy New Year! The ringing in of a new year provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to an even a brighter and more prosperous year ahead. During this annual milestone, many of us make resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle, save more money, advance in our education or career, start a new hobby, or spend more time with family and friends. As you finalize the commitments you will make for yourself, I encourage you to set a goal to give more in ways that will enrich the lives of others. You will be guaranteed to enrich your own life in the process.

First Lady Mrs. Barbara Bush says, "Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others." I think this statement is something that we should all take to heart at any time of year, but particularly as we set our goals for 2017. There is tremendous power that comes with the act of giving. Not power as in status; rather, power as in the magnitude of impact and meaning that your selfless actions and gifts can have on yourself and those with whom you serve.

I invite you to get more involved with the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and our literacy partners in 2017. Whether you join one of our auxiliary groups - Ladies for Literacy or Young Professionals, volunteer your time serving as a reading mentor to an adult or child, increase your financial commitment, or form a partnership with us through your company, church or civic group, you can make a difference.

Will you help us change lives this year?

Sincerely,

 


Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.

President

Innovative Tool to Address the Book Gap to be Launched

Research has evidenced time and time again that if children have access to books in their home and choice in the books they read, then they will read more often and achieve at higher academic levels. Unfortunately, children living in middle- to upper-income families have an average of 12 age-appropriate books in their home as compared to only 1 book for every 300 low-income households. More than 80 percent of Houston-area public school children are considered "economically disadvantaged." Put simply, while books are essential tools for children to reach success, many parents in our city cannot afford to purchase them for their children.

My Home Library provides a solution to the book gap found in homes of economically disadvantaged children across Houston. Specifically, through the My Home Library website, children will be able to create a wish list of books for their very own home library, and members of the community will be able to sponsor a specific child's home library by making a tax-deductible donation. On January 17, in partnership with Marathon Oil Corporation, the Wade Smith Foundation and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee, we will kick off the pilot of My Home Library at Browning Elementary School, a school in which more than 90 percent of the 600 children are eligible for the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program. Our goal is to provide a home library for every single child at the school.

My Home Library was developed last fall in partnership with Credera and a team of volunteer technologists from across the Houston community. We are very grateful to Phillips 66 for sponsoring the My Home Library application and to Marathon Oil Corporation employees for supporting the pilot of My Home Library at Browning Elementary School. If you would like to help kick-start our My Home Library project by making a tax-deductible donation, please click here.
 

Holiday Volunteering: A Big Success


This holiday season, we joined members of our Connect4Literacy.org Literacy Partners Network, including iWriteMaking It BetterBooks Between KidsKids' Meals, Inc., the Children's Museum of HoustonFriends of the Houston Public Library and the Houston Public Library to co-host special volunteer opportunities. These events provided opportunities for members of the community to volunteer with their family and friends in order to give back this holiday season. More than 140 adults and children volunteered at these events aimed at boosting capacity for literacy programs.
During the first two weeks of December, iWrite and Texas Tamale Company hosted its 2nd annual book drive, called Literacy in the Bag, in the Montrose and Heights neighborhoods. Volunteers dropped off and picked up bags at residences in both neighborhoods. All books collected were given to low income children in Houston and the Friends of the Houston Public Library. On December 15, members of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation worked with Making It Better to host a celebration for students at Ross Elementary participating in Making It Better's Reading Intervention program. The staff read aloud to the students, decorated cookies and distributed books donated by the Foundation to start or add to their home libraries. Other events included sorting donated books to be redistributed by Books Between Kids and Friends of the Houston Public Library, stuffing FLIP Kits for the Children's Museum of Houston and packing lunches with Kids' Meals. Thank you to our partners and volunteers who worked so hard to make these holiday events a success!


During the first two weeks of December, iWrite and Texas Tamale Company hosted its 2nd annual book drive, called Literacy in the Bag, in the Montrose and Heights neighborhoods. Volunteers dropped off and picked up bags at residences in both neighborhoods. All books collected were given to low income children in Houston and the Friends of the Houston Public Library. On December 15th, members of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation worked with Making It Better to host a celebration for students at Ross Elementary participating in Making It Better's Reading Intervention program. The staff read aloud to the students, decorated cookies and distributed books donated by the Foundation to start or add to their home libraries. Other events included sorting donated books to be redistributed by Books Between Kids and Friends of the Houston Public Library, stuffing FLIP Kits for the Children's Museum of Houston and packing lunches with Kids' Meals. Thank you to our partners and volunteers who worked so hard to make these holiday events a success!
 

Dear Houston Community

First Lady Barbara Bush with Foundation President Dr. Julie Baker Finck.

First Lady Barbara Bush with Foundation President Dr. Julie Baker Finck.

On behalf of First Lady Barbara Bush, Neil and Maria Bush, and the staff of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, please accept our sincere gratitude and appreciation for your support in advancing our important cause - literacy. We are incredibly grateful for your help in making 2016 an incredible year. Because of your generosity in giving of your time and financial resources, more children, adults, and families in Houston are gaining access to much-needed literacy services and resources. We look forward to sharing results of our efforts and the return on your investments in our upcoming annual report.

Although momentum is gaining across our city, more work must be done if we are going to break the intergenerational cycle of low-literacy and help more people realize their fullest potential in life through the power of literacy. We need your help. During this season of giving back, consider increasing your level of engagement with and support for the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. Give timegive moneygive books, or give your voice to the literacy cause. 

In the words of Mrs. Barbara Bush, "Believe in something larger than yourself...get involved in the big ideas of your time." Our vision is that Houston will be a city in which everyone has the requisite literacy skills needed for success in school, work and life. Everyone must be granted the right to learn how to read. Together, we can make this not only an idea or vision, but also a reality.

May God bless you and your family.

With warmest regards,

Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.
President
 

 

2017 A Celebration of Reading Author Reveal and Holiday Soirée

First Lady Barbara Bush looks on as Neil and Maria Bush reveal author line-up.

First Lady Barbara Bush looks on as Neil and Maria Bush reveal author line-up.

President George H.W. and Barbara Bush, and Neil and Maria Bush hosted a special holiday reception and author reveal for the 2017 A Celebration of Reading event on Tuesday, December 6th. The event was held at the beautiful home of Rhonda and Michael Graff, where 150 guests dressed in their holiday best, enjoyed cocktails, beer and wine, as well as hors d’oeuvres served by Jackson and Company.

Neil Bush, co-chairman of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, opened the evening by expressing his gratitude to attendees for their continuous support of the Foundation and its mission to improve lives through the power of literacy. Then, Foundation president, Dr. Julie Finck, extended gratitude to Greg and Gail Garland of Phillips 66 for serving as the title sponsor for A Celebration of Reading for the 3rd year in a row, as well as Bill and Iris Griffiths of Quanex Foundation, for serving as the events first-ever presenting sponsor.

Thereafter, Neil and Maria unveiled the highly-anticipated authors for the 2017 A Celebration of Reading. The author line-up includes New York Times bestselling authors Sue Grafton, author of X, Bill Browder, author of Red Notice and Jim Gaffigan, author of Food: A Love Story. The remainder of the evening was spent with guests celebrating the upcoming event and spreading holiday cheer!

Join us for the 23rd annual A Celebration of Reading event to be held on April 20, 2016 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets, tables and sponsorships are available now.

LADIES FOR LITERACY GUILD HOSTS TEA WITH MRS. BARBARA BUSH

Donatella Benckenstein and Mehrnaz Gill, Ladies for Literacy Co-Vice Presidents of Membership

Donatella Benckenstein and Mehrnaz Gill, Ladies for Literacy Co-Vice Presidents of Membership

First Lady Barbara Bush with hostess Sue Smith.

First Lady Barbara Bush with hostess Sue Smith.

On Wednesday, November 2nd, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Ladies for Literacy guild held its first Membership Tea with First Lady Barbara Bush. Long-time supporters, Sue and Lester Smith, graciously hosted the event in their beautiful home. More than 175 Ladies for Literacy Guild members and invited guests gathered for a reception to enjoy light bites and beverages catered by Culinaire and music by Houston-based band, Moodafaruka.

Following the reception, members and guests convened in the Smith’s ballroom to learn more about the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation from Dr. Julie Finck and the Ladies for Literacy Guild from Betty Hrncir, Guild President, including the guild’s signature initiative, Curiosity Cruiser.

Mrs. Bush expressed her deep appreciation for the women involved in advancing the literacy effort, a cause that she has championed for more than 25 years. More than 50 women joined the Guild as a result of the Membership Tea, bringing total members to 240 since the auxiliary group was formed only one year ago.

Learn more about Ladies for Literacy at BushHoustonLiteracy.org/ladies-for-literacy and check out photos from the event at facebook.com/bushhoustonliteracy.

 

 

Tacky Sweater Event Benefits 1,000 Houston Children

More than 60 members and guests of our Young Professionals Group (YPG) donned their tackiest holiday sweaters and gathered for the organization's 3rd annual Tacky Sweater Holiday Book Drive. During the festive and fun event held at the event venue Station 3, more than 6,000 books donated by members and purchased through proceeds from the YPG's recent Jungle Book Gala were bundled in bags as attendees socialized, ate, drank, and got into the spirit of the season by giving back to our community. The next day, the book bags were distributed to hundreds of disadvantaged, pre-school aged children served by one of our partner nonprofits, Kids' Meals, Inc. Additional mini-libraries packaged by the YPG will be distributed to low-income children during the holidays, totaling 1,000. 

Our YPG's mission is to engage young professionals in Houston's ongoing literacy crisis by creating opportunities for members to read, lead, and serve our next generation. Visit our website to learn more about the YPG and become a member.  

Volunteer for Literacy this Holiday Season

0238_BBHLF-GroomingForLiteracy_092416_MCW.jpg

This holiday season add volunteering to your family traditions and pass on the value of service to your children. In this issue and at Connect4Literacy.org you will find special volunteer opportunities we are hosting along with our literacy partners in the month of December. Included are family friendly events that welcome children 5 and up. These opportunities benefit our literacy partners Friends of the Houston Public Library, Books Between Kids, Children’s Museum of Houston, iWRITE, Making it Better, and Kids’ Meals. All of these organizations are working hard to improve the lives of Houstonians through the power of literacy. Be a part of the change today!

NEW STUDY SPOTLIGHTS NEEDS

Children at Risk recently published a new study to educate parents, policymakers, and the public about the subsidized child care system in Texas which provides over $500 million per year for child care assistance to low-income working families. Texas is a state that fully supports early education by funding child care, parenting education and public Pre-K through 3rd grade, but not all eligible families are aware that a child care system is available. Quality early education has been proven to have positive benefits for children, especially those that come from low-income families, as it provides early education and eases a child’s transition into Pre-K programs.

In the study, Children at Risk found that there is a need for increased awareness and understanding of child care subsidy dollars as well as a lack of agency coordination on early education data and early education programs. 

To read the full executive summary, visit ChildrenAtRisk.org.

Dear Houston Community

Super Bowl Host Committee mascot "TD" with Foundation President Dr. Julie Baker Finck.

Super Bowl Host Committee mascot "TD" with Foundation President Dr. Julie Baker Finck.

Many of us will gather with family and friends later this month to celebrate Thanksgiving and the many blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of the “Season of Giving.” I urge you to take time as a family to discuss what the “Season of Giving” means to you and how you may create a family legacy of service to others by giving your time and resources.

One family tradition I encourage you to begin is participating in #GivingTuesday on November 29. #GivingTuesday is a global day of philanthropy across more than 70 countries and 30,000 organizations that is fueled by social media and collaboration. #GivingTuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and recognizes the power of service to others and the value of giving back. Whether you give $5 or $5,000 on #GivingTuesday to a charitable organization, feel confident that your generosity can bring about real change in our community.

A second tradition to adopt during the “Season of Giving” is to volunteer as a family. Volunteers can change lives. By engaging in acts of kindness and helping others in need, you will indeed lead by example and inspire your children to live a life of service. We are hosting family-friendly volunteer opportunities throughout the month of December. Go to Connect4Literacy.org to sign up and join us.

This Season of Giving, reach beyond yourself. Take action. Make a difference.

Yours in service,

 

Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.
President

A Legacy of Family Literacy - A Special Message From Neil Bush

My mom is known as the "First Lady of Literacy" and over the years has been a champion for many literacy-related causes across the country. The principal focus of her national foundation has been family literacy and, as such, this Family Literacy Month is a celebration of Barbara Bush and thousands of others nationwide dedicated to promoting family literacy. 

Barbara Bush has always understood that learning starts and is reinforced at home. We didn’t discuss literacy in our home, but mom used our home environment to practice great literacy development for her children. She frequently read to us, spoke to us using words that developed early vocabulary, and encouraged us to speak in clear sentences and to write thank-you notes. She has always understood that breaking the cycle of low literacy means families need to implement literacy practices at home. For that reason, her national foundation’s philanthropic work has focused on enhancing family learning programs in all fifty states.

Maria and I formed the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation three years ago. We were intent on leveraging Mom’s interest in literacy in her backyard by bringing the community together to solve our city’s literacy crisis and to raise awareness of the critical importance of developing age-appropriate literacy skills. 

Everyone can have a role in addressing the literacy crisis. For example, research shows that kids raised in poverty suffer from both a book gap and a word gap. Houstonians are pitching in to help organizations gather and distribute books so that low-income kids can build home libraries. Too many kids go through early childhood ill-prepared for learning in school. Many volunteers are helping new low-income moms understand the importance of early brain development and are supporting child care centers with volunteer time. Too many kids struggle to pass the third grade reading test, so volunteers are being invited into classrooms to intervene as reading mentors through HISD’s Read Houston Read program. I could go on and on. A plethora of organizations are serving all ages, from small children to adults. However, they are in need of volunteers and donations. The fact is that an individual volunteering time can make a big difference in helping people realize their full potential.

Houston is the perfect city to address the literacy crisis, and I am proud of the role the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is playing as a catalyst for change. The coalitions that are working area- wide and in specific neighborhoods are engaging thousands of change-makers in raising awareness and implementing strategies that will raise literacy rates across the board.

We will consider our work done when every mother of a newborn baby understands the importance of raising a brain-stimulated, literate child and has strategies to do so.  When every family embraces a culture of reading and communication and when every elementary school implements systems to establish a culture of early literacy success, our work will be done.  However, we need an army of volunteers to intervene to add capacity to vital services being provided by hundreds of organizations helping develop literacy skills for people across the entire age spectrum. I know this great community will rise to the challenge.

Will You Help me Learn how to Read?

Read Houston Read

By spending just 30 minutes a week, online or in person, you can help change a child’s life. For first-graders in the Houston Independent School District, learning to read is a top priority. But reading isn’t just a classroom activity. Thousands of these children have no one at home who can read to them or with them. And many do not have books in their homes.

Through the Read Houston Read program, volunteers share the magic of books by reading with a child, engaging in fun activities to build vocabulary and comprehension levels, and listening to a child read and share a book with his or her mentor. In addition, mentors and students build an important relationship that helps boost students' self-esteem and reading skills. By working with the same student(s) for an entire schoolyear, volunteers have the potential to change lives simply by sharing the gift of reading.

Sign up and serve as a Read Houston Read volunteer by logging on to Connect4Literacy.org, creating an account, and finding a school near your home or office. Have questions about how you or a group of colleagues or friends can become mentors? Contact Amber at Amber@BushHoustonLiteracy.org or by phone at 346-212-2310.

What do Lady Gaga and Barbara Bush Have in Common?

Super Bowl LI, of course. While Lady Gaga will take the stage at Super Bowl LI’s halftime show, Barbara Bush’s life-long cause of promoting literacy will be front and center thanks to the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee’s (HSBHC) charitable program Touchdown Houston. Literacy is one of three key investment areas and community engagement strategies selected by the HSBHC. The other two areas are health and community enhancement. In partnership with the NFL Foundation, HSBHC will invest more than four million dollars through Touchdown Houston in non-profit organizations advancing   these causes across Houston.

Friday, October 28, marked the 100-day countdown to Super Bowl LI.  We teamed up with the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee to celebrate the countdown and promote Read On, the early literacy program they are implementing as one of three Legacy Initiatives as part of their Charitable Giving program, Touchdown Houston. The 100-day kickoff took place at Foster Elementary School with a reading assembly for the entire school with mascot TD. In addition, more than 100 children selected a home library of books to take home, courtesy of our Foundation in partnership with First Book, Scholastic Book Fairs and donors Kathy and Martyn Goossen. We are honored to support the Read On initiative and look forward to the lasting impact the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee is undoubtedly making on our community.

We are proud to partner with HSBHC and the Early Matters coalition in the Touchdown Houston “Read On!” initiative to promote literacy volunteerism and to build home libraries for disadvantaged children in our community. Together, we can tackle low literacy in Houston.

Check out the "Wild" Photos From Our Jungle Book Gala

On October 21 our Young Professionals Group (YPG) hosted its second annual black-tie Jungle Book Gala at The Dunlavy. This sold-out event was chaired by Lizzie Andrews, the granddaughter of First Lady Barbara Bush. Guests enjoyed a fun, entertaining evening featuring delectable food and drinks, a silent auction, and dancing to live music by DJ JJ Essen. Honorary chairs included Dwight Howard, NBA All-Star and founder of the D12 Foundation, and Lucas Somoza, international stylist and event designer. More than $55,000 was raised to support the efforts of our YPG to build home libraries for low-income children across Houston. We are grateful to Central Houston Cadillac for their generous sponsorship. Check out our Jungle Book Gala photo album.

The mission of our YPG is to engage young professionals in Houston’s ongoing literacy crisis by creating opportunities for members to read, lead, and serve our next generation.

View Photos 

Learn more about YPG and become a member.