Earlier this week Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner held a press conference to announce Houston City Council’s recent unanimous decision to rename the Central Houston Public Library Plaza to “Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza” to pay tribute to the legacy of First Lady Barbara Bush and her lifelong pursuit to break the intergenerational cycle of low literacy among families and help more people realize their fullest potential in life through the power of literacy. Mayor Turner remarked, “Literacy is essential. Period. Our elevated priority for literacy begins today…The Barbara Bush Plaza will be a focal point for literacy in Houston. It will also be a reminder of what one person can do through a lifetime of support for a cause.”
Mayor Turner also unveiled architectural renderings for major renovations for the plaza and kicked of the capital campaign to raise $5.5M through the Houston Public Library Foundation to pay for the effort. A focal point connecting Houston’s Main Library and the historic Julia Ideson building, the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza will include a performance stage, an Internet café, an adult reading garden, an outdoor children’s reading room, and more.
In addition, three significant and generous financial gifts of $500,000 totaling $1.5M were announced to kick off the capital campaign. President and First Lady Barbara Bush, the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, and Phillips 66 each committed $500,000 to support the plaza renovation. “Speaking for my 14,000 colleagues, we at Phillips 66 are proud to contribute $500,000 to the Houston Public Library Foundation to support the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza,” said Claudia Kriesle, Director of Philanthropy for Phillips 66. “We applaud the great work that Mrs. Bush does to advance literacy, and we share her belief that reading is the skill that makes all other learning possible.”
“My mother has championed the cause of literacy for much of her philanthropic life” said Neil Bush, co-chairman of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. “The entire Bush family is deeply grateful to the leaders of Houston for honoring and preserving her legacy in such a special way through the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza. We hope that others in our community will be inspired to make literacy their legacy, too.”