With generous support from the Foundation’s Ladies for Literacy Guild and Phillips 66, the Foundation purchased the books to help bridge the learning gap while schools and libraries are closed across the city due to the coronavirus. Once received, the books will be distributed to families of children in pre-K through eighth grades as they pick up food at HISD food distribution sites set up across the city in partnership with the Houston Food Bank.
“The enormity and complexity of the challenges facing families right now are substantial and overwhelming to grasp,” said Dr. Julie Baker Finck, Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation President. “Providing books is a small, yet vital aspect of helping parents find meaningful ways to engage and support their child’s continued learning at home during widespread closures. We are grateful to our loyal and generous donors and partners, without whom this donation of 100,000 books and all of the work we do every day would not be made possible.”
Roughly 75 percent of the 210,000 students in HISD are ‘economically disadvantaged’ and qualify for the National School Lunch Program, a strong indicator that books are a luxury that many of the families in our community cannot afford. Since the family of the late First Lady Barbara Bush formed the Foundation in 2013, a key strategy to help increase literacy rates has been to provide home libraries to our city’s youngest and most vulnerable children and their families.
“We are grateful to the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, the Ladies for Literacy Guild, Phillips 66, and Scholastic for their incredible support to help us meet the needs of our children and families during these unprecedented, impactful times,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “It is important that our community unites to not only meet the basic health and wellness needs of our children, such as food insecurity but also the academic and socio-emotional challenges our families are facing due to school, library and enrichment program closures across our city.”
Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, has also partnered with the Foundation on this effort by extending best-in-class pricing on books, waiving expedited shipping fees, and providing hundreds of additional free books to further the goal of empowering families and children to read and learn at home.
The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is a charitable organization formed by Neil and Maria Bush to carry forth First Lady Barbara Bush’s legacy in the literacy cause and to focus deeply on breaking the intergenerational cycle of low literacy in the Bush family’s hometown. Founded on Mrs. Bush’s belief, “If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless,” the Barbara Bush Foundation’s mission is to improve lives through the power of literacy – the ability to read, write, speak clearly, and think critically.
The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States, with 280 schools and more than 209,772 students. The 333-square-mile district is one of the largest employers in the Houston metropolitan area, with more than 27,000 employees.