Dear Houston Community

Dr. Julie Finck with husband Ron at the Bud Light Gives to Houston event.

Dr. Julie Finck with husband Ron at the Bud Light Gives to Houston event.

Dear Houston Community,

Another school year has ended for children across our city. Not only is summer a time for children to have fun, but it is also an important time for them to continue to read and learn. So, let’s make summer count. Why? Because all children tend to lose ground in math and low-income students fall further behind in reading than their more affluent peers during the summer months. This summer learning loss cumulates year after year and can result in children losing significant ground academically.

Much like any skill, to be great at reading, practice is required. I recall Malcom Gladwell’s statement in his bestselling book, Outliers: The Story of Success: “Practice isn’t the thing that you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” It’s important for families to support and encourage their child’s learning and to provide them with meaningful opportunities to become good readers.

We are working hard again to make summer count by ensuring that more children have access to high-quality summer learning programs and access to books in their home. For example, we have teamed up with the Houston Area Urban League, the Houston Symphony and the Children’s Museum of Houston to offer Camp Adventure! More than 800 children will participate in the free, two-week program underwritten by Phillips 66 and Target. Corporate partners Bank of Texas, Cheniere Energy, JP Morgan, KPMG, Marathon Oil, Phillips 66, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Schlumberger, and Target have all committed teams of volunteers to facilitate the activities that integrate science, technology, engineering, math, reading and the arts. Thanks to Marathon Oil, every child will also receive a home library during the camp. I encourage you and your organization to be a part of this exciting program as volunteers and make summer count for hundreds of children. 

There are several other free programs in our city and online that engage and encourage children to read and learn. Check out our website to learn more about why you need to make summer count and to view the list of available free programs for the children in your life. 
Thank you for joining us to make summer count!

Sincerely,

 

Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.
President

Dear Houston Community

Ron and Julie Finck with Maria and Neil Bush. Photo Credit: Michelle Watson, CatchLight Group

Ron and Julie Finck with Maria and Neil Bush.
Photo Credit: Michelle Watson, CatchLight Group

Dear Houston Community,

Every year in April we hold a signature event, called A Celebration of Reading, to raise funds to carry forth Mrs. Barbara Bush’s legacy and advance our mission to improve lives through the power of literacy. The event also provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness about the important work we are doing in the Houston community and invite the 1,800 guests to join our important cause. 

Bestselling authors David Brooks, Bill Browder, Sue Grafton, and our surprise guest, President George W. Bush, gave freely of their time to share personal stories, and students from Spring ISD’s Westfield High School gave an incredible performance of Brand New Day from the musical, The Wiz, during the program. We are deeply grateful for their generosity of time and talent. We also appreciate Title Sponsor Phillips 66, Presenting Sponsor Quanex Foundation, and the many other corporate, family and individual donors, whose contributions helped us garner nearly $2.3 million. We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support. 

An event of this magnitude does not happen without the dedication and expertise of a team of people. Our partners at Dancie Perugini Ware Public Relations, Empower Events, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Jackson & Company, Rees Media, and Ward and Ames Special Events, as well as the volunteers and Foundation staff, all made this year’s A Celebration of Reading one of the best yet. Thank you all!

Last, but certainly not least, we wish to extend our sincere appreciation to members of the Bush family –First Lady Mrs. Barbara Bush and Foundation Co-Founders Neil and Maria Bush for hosting the event, and grandchildren Lauren Bush Lauren, Pierce Bush, Lizzie Andrews, Alexander Andrews, Clemmie Pierce, and Marshall Bush Rossi for participating in and attending the program.

Information on how to access photos and videos from the event can be found in this edition of our newsletter, so be sure to read further and check them out. Also, please mark your calendars for Thursday, April 19, 2018 and plan to attend the 24th Annual A Celebration of Reading

Sincerely,

 

Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.,
President

 

 

23rd Annual A Celebration of Reading Event a Big Success

From Left: Bill Browder, Barbara Bush, President George W. Bush,  Sue Grafton, David Brooks, Maria and Neil Bush. Photo: David Shutts

From Left: Bill Browder, Barbara Bush, President George W. Bush, 
Sue Grafton, David Brooks, Maria and Neil Bush.
Photo: David Shutts

On April 20 nearly 1,800 donors, guests, family and friends attended the 23rd annual A Celebration of Reading hosted by Barbara, Neil and Maria Bush at The Hobby Center for Performing Arts. This year’s outstanding lineup of New York Times Bestselling authors included David Brooks, Sue Grafton, Bill Browder, and special surprise guest President George W. Bush. Thanks to the generosity of Title Sponsor Phillips 66, Presenting Sponsor Quanex Foundation and many other generous donors, the event garnered more than $2.2 million in support of the literacy cause through the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. We are deeply grateful for everyone’s support and encourage you to check out photos from the event.

The event opened with a video welcome from Mrs. Bush in which she thanked donors for their support. The video also included a humorous skit entailing President Bush flipping a coin to decide whether Neil or Maria, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation Chairs, would speak first in the program. Following the video, Maria introduced Mrs. Bush who gracefully entered the theater to a standing ovation from the crowd. 

Guests also watched uplifting video that described Mrs. Bush’s legacy impact and the butterfly effect that has taken hold in the Houston community around the literacy cause. The video highlighted the work of the Foundation’s Young Professionals Group and Ladies for Literacy Guild, as well as other organizations and individuals who have embraced literacy to create their own legacy. 

The impressive line-up of featured authors took the stage to share entertaining and unique stories around their literacy work, personal experiences and their award-winning books. The program concluded with an entertaining performance of “Brand New Day” from “The Wiz”, a Westfield Senior High School, 2017 Theatre Under the Stars Tommy Tune Award Nominated High School.  
After the event, the guests who stayed for dinner enjoyed a delicious meal catered by Jackson & Company as they socialized and shared stories from the evening. Each guest left the A Celebration of Reading event, with a gift bag featuring Barbara Bush and a quote from her, “If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless.” The gift bags also included books from the featured authors. 

This year’s event truly touched the heart of each audience member. Through tales told from each author illustrating the importance of literacy down to the moving video that gave a small glimpse of what the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation does for the community. Each guest left the theater eagerly awaiting next years A Celebration of Reading.

 

Meet Michaela

   

 

 

Meet Michaela, an adorable third-grader attending Treasure Forest Elementary in the Spring Branch Independent School District. This is Michaela’s first year attending a public school.

Michaela has proudly exceeded the reading expectations of her father, mother and classroom teacher. You see, every child’s reading level is assessed on a scale from 1 to 30. Due to the support of her father and her teacher, Michaela has advanced her reading proficiency by 6 levels and continues to make academic progress. Soon, she will be reading on the same level as her classmates. 
 
Every night she reads for an hour before bed along with reading a book four times in a row until she begins to understand each word’s pronunciation and meaning. Her father said, “We spend a lot of time after school reading together. Her mother and I are so proud of how far she has improved.” 

More than 1,000 children, including Michaela, have created a wish lists of six books through our My Home Library initiative. Michaela included several books in the Bad Kitty series, along with the classic Corduroy. She is excited about receiving these books so that she will have them the read during the summer and can continue climbing that ladder to reading success.

Make a child’s wish come true today. With your tax-deductible gift of $30, you can help sponsor a home library for Michaela or other children attending Treasure Forest Elementary School or Blackshear Elementary School in Houston Independent School District. Simply visit MyHomeLibraryHouston.org and click on “Sponsor a Child.”

Your generosity is deeply appreciated.

Meet Lyan

Meet Lyan, a fourth grader at Treasure Forest Elementary in Spring Branch Independent School District. He recently celebrated his 10th birthday during which he played on trampolines and ate chocolate cake with his friends and family.

Lyan credits his kindergarten teacher for helping him learn how to read. He loves to read chapter books, especially fantasy and mystery genres. His favorite series is Notebook of Doom written by Troy Cummings in which children are given clues left by strange worms to find monsters. Lyan has read seven out of the twelve books in the humorous, action-packed series. He also enjoys reading about his favorite super hero, Iron Man.

Like many kids in Houston, Lyan is only able to get books through his elementary school library. He does not own any chapter books at home, only picture books which are well below his reading level. When school is out for the summer, Lyan will have very limited opportunity to read books at home without the support of a sponsor through our My Home Library initiative.

Lyan is one of nearly 600 children at Treasure Forest Elementary School who have created a wish list of books through our My Home Library initiative, which matches generous donors with a child in need. Nearly 98 percent of children at the school are economically disadvantaged, making books a luxury their families can’t afford. Lyan is hoping to have a chance to read LEGO Star Wars: Vader’s Secret Missions, Who Would Win: Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Velociraptor and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules, among other books in his wish list, during the summer. With your tax-deductible donation of $30, you can make Lyan or another child’s wish come true by underwriting their home library of 6 books.

Simply visit MyHomeLibrary.org and click on “Sponsor a Child.” Your gift will help give children like Lyan access to books that expand their vocabulary, improve their comprehension levels, strengthen their imagination, and inspire a love of reading that will last a lifetime.

Thank you for your generosity in helping to make a direct and meaningful impact on Lyan and his school-mates.

Dear Houston Community

Dr. Finck stands with a few of the 560 children sponsored through My Home Library in March.

Dr. Finck stands with a few of the 560 children sponsored through My Home Library in March.

You've likely heard the saying "April showers bring May flowers." Did you know that it's origination has been traced as far back as the 1300s in the work of Geoffrey Chaucer's famous Canterbury Tales? The most common meaning depicts the science of the spring cycle-when the rain of April causes plants to produce flowers that we enjoy in May. There is another interpretation of the proverb that speaks to the value of patience and optimism in our lives-that turbulent or difficult times can often bring to bear happiness and joyful times.

It's been incredible to witness how many generous people have stepped up to serve as volunteers and contribute in meaningful ways to bring happiness and joyful times to those who are experiencing hard times in their lives because they do not have the requisite literacy skills. In fact, 1 in 5 Houston adults are functionally illiterate and 1 in 4 area 3rd-graders fail to meet minimum reading proficiency levels year after year, putting them at great risk of becoming a drop out.

Small acts of kindness and generosity can go a very long way in the life of someone in need. I invite you to join us in April to ensure that more children and families can enjoy the flowers of May by doing one of or more of the following things: (1) become a member of our Ladies for Literacy Guild or Young Professionals Group; (2) sponsor a home library for a disadvantaged child through My Home Library; or (3) attend the 23rd annual A Celebration of Reading on April 20th at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

Thank you for your support and for recognizing that you can make a meaningful difference in someone's life.

Happy Spring!

With warm regards,

 

Julie Baker Finck, Ph. D.
President

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

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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!