Sign up for updates

Jump to page:

Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy Presents “Champion for Literacy” Award to Carol Jenkins Barnett

Share this:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

~ Award presented by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at Florida Celebration of Reading event ~

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. – Carol Jenkins Barnett, philanthropist, education supporter, and president and chairman of Publix Super Markets Charities, was honored with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s “Champion for Literacy” award. This award recognizes individuals for a lifetime of service supporting literacy for all. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush presented the award to Barnett during the Foundation’s 17th annual Florida Celebration of Reading in recognition of her longstanding dedication to expanding educational opportunities in her home state of Florida and throughout the nation.

Barnett has been a recognized leader in literacy and education initiatives for more than 20 years. The daughter of George W. Jenkins, the late founder of Publix Super Markets, Barnett uses her tenure as president of the corporation’s philanthropic arm to support education programs that have made an enormous impact on the lives of Florida residents. Perhaps most notably, Barnett played an instrumental role in the development of the state’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program, which remains a nationally replicated model. In 1999, Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed Barnett as vice-chair of the Florida Partnership for School Readiness Board, which he tasked with oversight of the state’s efforts to implement the voluntary pre-kindergarten program.

Governor Bush shared: “As I surveyed the landscape of Florida in search of leaders who were truly committed to the vision of early literacy, I immediately thought of Carol and knew that her insight would be invaluable. Her leadership and dedication helped shape the program that has helped nearly two million Florida children start school equipped with the literacy skills they need to succeed.”

When the Barbara Bush Foundation began planning for the initial Florida Celebration of Reading in 2001, Carol Barnett and Publix Super Markets Charities were among the first supporters of the program. Since that time, with continued support from Publix Super Markets Charities, the Celebration of Reading has raised more than $26 million in support of family literacy programs that help children and their parents improve their literacy skills.

“It’s been amazing to witness the exponential effect of Carol’s trailblazing work over these last two decades,” said Liza McFadden, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation. “The first time we met, she had just visited an elementary school in her local community, and was alarmed by the literacy skill levels among the children she met there. She left that visit with an immediate drive and commitment to move the needle for literacy, first in Polk County, then throughout the state, and in partnership with the Foundation, her touch is now felt nationally.”

Barnett’s other recent honors include induction into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame and receipt of the Women in Philanthropy award, a national honor bestowed by the United Way Women’s Leadership Council in recognition of Barnett’s leadership in the development of early childhood literacy initiatives.

“Carol has proven herself to be a leader and philanthropist who cares deeply about the cause of early literacy,” said Brian Gallagher, United Way Worldwide president and CEO. “Thanks to her generous spirit and dedication to improving lives through education, children and families throughout Florida—and the nation—have brighter futures.”

This marks only the second “Champion for Literacy” award presented by the Barbara Bush Foundation.

About the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is the nation’s leading advocate for family literacy. The Foundation was established by Mrs. Barbara Bush in 1989, inspired by her vision of fostering the opportunity for every man, woman and child to secure a better life through literacy. Today, the Foundation is a public charity that remains committed to Mrs. Bush’s vision, working to expand literacy access for the bookends of our education system: early literacy for young children and opportunities for low-literate parents to improve their skills. To learn more, visit or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter (@BarbaraBushFdn).

For more information: Contact Lauren Sproull at or (850) 562-5300.

Get in Touch

You may also contact us by phone at 850.562.5300 or by mail at:
Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
516 North Adams Street • Tallahassee, Florida 32301