Washington, D.C. (November 12, 2019) — The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy honored literacy trailblazers at a special National Celebration of Reading event this evening at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
The Barbara Bush National Literacy Honors were presented to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and Jim Duffy, former president of ABC Television. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is a longtime partner of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and adult literacy programs across the nation. Duffy created Project Literacy U.S., a partnership between PBS and ABC to raise awareness about the silent crisis impacting millions of Americans.
“Thirty-six million adults in America still cannot read, write or comprehend,” said Doro Bush Koch, Honorary Chair of the Barbara Bush Foundation. “Leaders like Jim Duffy and the remarkable individuals at the Dollar General Literacy Foundation are so important to this work—pioneering the literacy movement and working tirelessly to create resources and programs that change the lives of so many Americans.”
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation was created in 1993 to support literacy and education initiatives. During the last 26 years, it has invested $172 million to help uplift more than 11 million people through literacy training, general education diplomas and English proficiency skills. In 2015, it became the presenting sponsor of the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, a global competition that challenged teams to develop mobile applications that increased literacy skills among adult learners.
During his tenure at ABC, Duffy was a champion for Americans struggling with low literacy. In addition to launching Project Literacy U.S., under Duffy’s leadership, ABC sponsored a monthly televised ceremony at the White House to celebrate adult learners. Duffy wanted people across the country, across communities and across circumstances to recognize that reading could set them free. They were the reason that, after 36 years in the broadcast business, Duffy said his literacy work landed him “on the doorstep of one of the most inspiring and rewarding adventures of my life.”
“Creating big bold solutions that advance adult literacy requires innovation, collaboration and perseverance,” said Denine Torr, Executive Director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. “The beauty of the literacy field is that as we work together to increase access to programming and enhance educational resources, we begin to level the playing fields of life and strengthen opportunities for families. We are honored by tonight’s recognition and look forward to continuing our work with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.”
The evening featured former First Lady Laura Bush and members of the Bush family. It also included appearances by best-selling and award-winning authors Jean Case, Jesse J. Holland, Eric Motley, Susan Orlean and Delia Owens, who offered insights into how literacy has shaped their lives. Pulitizer Prize winner Jon Meacham and Grammy Award winner Tim McGraw closed the evening with a conversation and performance from their book Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music that Made a Nation.
“We are honored to be a part of this extraordinary event celebrating reading, literacy and education,” said Wallis Annenberg, President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Annenberg Foundation and presenting underwriter for the National Celebration of Reading. “We are inspired by the Foundation’s work, vision and commitment to serving the millions of adults in America with unmet literacy needs.”
“It was a pleasure for us to be with so many family and friends of Mrs. Barbara Bush and the Barbara Bush Foundation as the organization celebrates its 30th anniversary and makes its return to Washington,” said Anita and Tim McBride, Co-Chairs of the National Celebration of Reading. “The evening energized all of us to continue Mrs. Bush’s critical work. We are deeply grateful for the outstanding support for the Foundation as it embarks on a new chapter in the literacy fight.”
Philanthropists, education leaders and business leaders attended the National Celebration of Reading to promote awareness of this country’s adult literacy crisis, raise funds in support of the Foundation’s work and celebrate the life-changing power of literacy. Funds raised from the event will help the Foundation continue to expand family literacy services to parents and children across the United States.