Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is a non-profit organisation, based in Florida, that seeks to improve literacy in the United States through programs directed towards preschool children and parental literacy.
During Barbara Bush's time as Second Lady, while her husband was Vice President of the United States, she took an interest in literacy issues, prompted by her son Neil's diagnosis with dyslexia. She subsequently began working with several different literacy organizations and spent much time researching and learning about the factors that contributed to illiteracy—she believed homelessness was also connected to illiteracy. In 1984 she wrote a children's book about her family told from the point of view of her dog C. Fred entitled C. Fred's Story, and donated all proceeds to literacy charities. When her husband became President her most public cause was family literacy. She called it "the most important issue we have". Barbara Bush stated her dedication to eliminating the generational cycle of illiteracy in America by supporting programs where parents and their young children are able to learn together. During the early 1980s, statistics showed that 35 million adults in the United States could not read above the eighth-grade level and that 23 million were not able to read beyond a fourth-grade level. She appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the situation and spoke regularly on Mrs. Bush's Story Time, a national radio program that stressed the importance of reading aloud to children.
Barbara Bush became involved with literacy organizations, served on literacy committees and chaired reading organizations. Eventually, she helped develop the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. The foundation formed in 1989 with a stated aim of getting low-income parents reading, creating positive examples for their children. The foundation aimed to help young parents pass their high school general educational development tests via literacy programs. It was first announced at a luncheon in March 1989. Barbara Bush was to be the foundation's honorary chairman, and Joan Abrahamson the chairman.
Some funding came from a book, credited to the Bushes' dog Millie but ghostwritten by Barbara Bush, Millie's Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush. The book reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller nonfiction list. The book earned $1.1 Million of royalties to July 1991. All of the after-tax royalties were donated to the foundation.
Management and Activities
Barbara Bush chaired the foundation until 2012. From then her children Jeb Bush and Doro Bush Koch served as co-chairs. Jeb Bush resigned in 2015, leaving Doro Bush Koch as the honorary chairman, though Barbara Bush remains active in the foundation.
As of 2014 the foundation ran 1500 literacy programs spread across in all US states. The foundation's stated mission is "to make literacy a core value in every home in America". It is registered as a public charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
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