Barbara Bush Foundation Celebrates State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant Benefiting Polk County Public Schools

Mulberry, Fla. – The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy gathered local educators and students at Kingsford Elementary School on Thursday, April 11, to celebrate the Teen Trendsetters™ program.

Teen Trendsetters is a reading mentoring program that pairs teen mentors with students in first, second, and third grades who are, on average, half a year behind in reading. Teens receive training as reading mentors, and meet regularly with their mentees for one-on-one mentoring sessions, using a curriculum specifically designed to improve children’s reading skills. Students from Mulberry High School volunteer their time to serve as mentors for children participating in the program at Kingsford Elementary.

The Kingsford Elementary program is one of more than 70 Teen Trendsetters programs in Florida, and one of the 22 programs in Polk and Miami-Dade counties funded by a Good Neighbor Citizenship grant from State Farm. Jose Soto, community public affairs specialist for State Farm, celebrated the grant award with a check presentation and a visit to a reading mentoring session at Kingsford Elementary.

“State Farm is proud to be a longtime champion of the Teen Trendsetters program, having provided nearly $950,000 in grant support since 2004,” said Soto. “It’s always a joy to visit the programs we support and help celebrate these students’ amazing achievements.”

Teen Trendsetters programs are regularly evaluated by third-party, independent researchers, and achieve impressive results. For the 2017-2018 school year, an evaluation revealed that reading skills increased 1.14 grade levels in seven months for participating students, demonstrating 39 percent more growth than expected for the average student. Teen mentors gained community service hours and reported improved leadership, communication, and teamwork skills; 44 percent also reported that the program helped them improve their own reading skills.

“We cannot overstate the importance of helping children become strong readers during their early elementary school years. In fact, reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success,” said British A. Robinson, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation. “We’re so grateful to State Farm for helping us make an impact that will position these students for success in school, and throughout their lives.”

An independent return on investment study conducted by Florida TaxWatch found that the total economic and fiscal benefits of one year of the Teen Trendsetters program is $90,572,948. For every $1 of total funding invested in Teen Trendsetters, tax payers see an ROI of $7.83 in avoided social program costs.

The program also helps the mentees build a home library, providing them with 18 books that they can take home and read with their parents. Parents of mentees sign a contract agreeing to reinforce learning by listening to their child read at home.

Since 2002, the Teen Trendsetters program has reached more than 48,000 students, resulting in more than 500,000 volunteer/contact hours and more than 365,000 books distributed to mentees to become part of their at-home libraries.

About the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has been the nation’s leading advocate for family literacy for three decades. The Foundation was established by former First Lady 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, providing innovative programs and services to ensure that every American has the opportunity to learn to read and write. To learn more, visit

About State Farm®: The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto and home insurance in the United States. Its nearly 19,000 agents and approximately 65,000 employees serve approximately 83 million policies and accounts – approximately 81 million auto, fire, life, health and commercial policies and approximately 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 36 on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit

Media Contact: Lauren Sproull, Director of Communications, at 850-562-5300 or

Press Inquiries

If you’re a member of the media or would like more information, you can reach Lauren Sproull, Vice President of Communications, at 850.562.5300 or