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Access to opportunity for all

Our calling is to improve lives through literacy. We are dedicated to expanding access to literacy services for adults nationwide because we believe in the uniquely transformative power of literacy. The ability to read, write, and comprehend brings dignity to daily life and equal opportunity to fulfill one’s greatest potential.

Improved literacy rates have the power to strengthen our economy by boosting labor productivity, cutting billions of dollars in healthcare costs, and breaking the cycle of poverty for families in need. And we need involvement from businesses, educators, philanthropists, influencers, technology experts, advocates, and policymakers to join our efforts to make literacy a reality for every American.

Our values are reflected in our mission statement: The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is committed to building a stronger, more equitable America through literacy.

We envision an America in which all adults have the opportunity to read, write, and comprehend in order to navigate the world with dignity. Together, we can give people access to opportunities that will create change today and for generations to come.

Our 30-year commitment continues

Our founder, Barbara Bush, knew instinctively that literacy is critical to the success of not just individuals, but our nation as a whole.

For over three decades, we have worked so that adults and families have the opportunity to learn how to read, write, and better comprehend the world around them. Our work has provided more than $110 million in support to literacy programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and impacted millions of lives.

Now headquartered in Washington, D.C., we work to fulfill Mrs. Bush’s legacy through our continued focus on improving lives academically, financially, and socially. We are dedicated to expanding access to literacy services for adults nationwide because improving adult literacy is the key to improving family literacy and our nation as a whole.

We believe in the transformative power of literacy

Our team represents decades of experience in programming, advocacy, and strategic development. We’re fighting for the opportunity for everyone to have a better future.

A passion for improving the lives of others through literacy

Barbara Bush believed in family, her country, and the importance of literacy and education as foundational to living life with possibility and opportunity. Her legacy endures in the millions of people in the United States who have taken the opportunity to improve their literacy skills—and their lives—as a result of her work and advocacy.

Reading inspired her life’s work

Barbara Pierce was born in New York City on June 8, 1925, and raised in Rye, New York as one of four children. A clever child, she loved to read—a passion that would inspire her life’s work. At 16, she met George H.W. Bush, then a 17-year-old high school senior who would become a Navy combat pilot, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and the Director of the CIA before becoming the 41st President of the United States. The two married on January 6, 1945, had six children (George W., Pauline “Robin,” John “Jeb,” Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy “Doro”) and dedicated the rest of their lives to public service.

My brothers and I learned at a very young age that reading is a gift that brings lifelong joy and learning. And, it is a gift easily passed from generation to generation – my own four kids are also book lovers. So it came naturally to me to become an advocate for family literacy – like my mom.

Changing lives for generations to come

Mrs. Bush’s commitment to the cause of literacy crystallized in 1978, when she realized that everything she worried about in life—from poverty to addiction to crime—could improve if more people could read, write, and comprehend. When her husband became Vice President, Mrs. Bush took the opportunity to explore her passion and began the groundwork for what would become the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy on a national scale.

As First Lady, Mrs. Bush brought literacy to the attention of our country, calling it “the most important issue we have.” Mrs. Bush launched the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy on March 6, 1989, to support parents with unmet literacy needs so they could learn alongside their young children. The National Literacy Act was signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 25, 1991, offering millions of adults in the United States the opportunity and resources necessary to return to education and earn their high school diplomas.

Mrs. Bush’s daughter, Doro Bush Koch, has been Honorary Chair of the Foundation since 2012, and shares her mother’s passion for literacy as the key to solving our country’s most pressing issues. Mrs. Bush’s legacy continues in the lives of millions of people who have been impacted by her work, and the generations of those who follow.


It’s everybody’s business. Period.

Improving literacy unlocks the potential of individuals, families, and businesses across the United States. Join our mission to change our country, one learner at a time.

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