by David Sharp, The Associated Press
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) — Former first lady Barbara Bush celebrated her 90th birthday on Monday by spending time with her family and promoting literacy, a cause long dear to her.
Literacy foundations set up by Bush and by Dollar General have partnered with X Prize for a competition aimed at boosting adult literacy. The $7 million competition challenges people or teams to create a mobile app capable of giving the biggest boost to adult literacy skills within 12 months.
Bush said she hopes the competition will bring “a radical breakthrough” that will help an estimated 36 million U.S. adults who read at the third-grade level or lower.
“A parent’s literacy level is a significant predictor of their child’s future educational success, influencing generations to follow,” Bush said in a statement. She created the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy more than 25 years ago while first lady; the foundation has raised $42 million since it became a public charity in 2012.
The original X Prize was awarded 11 years ago for privately funded, suborbital flight. Since then, there have been other X Prize competitions aimed at spurring innovation.
For Bush’s birthday, family members including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former President George W. Bush and three other children were in Kennebunkport.
A gala was planned for Monday evening under a tent at St. Ann’s Church, down the street from her summer home, with special guests Amy Grant, Reba McEntire and Michael W. Smith.
Bush told her granddaughter, NBC correspondent Jenna Bush Hager, in a segment on the “Today” show that she’s had a great life with former President George H.W. Bush. “I’ve been the luckiest woman in the world, truthfully. And I know it,” she said.
She also said she’s vowed to keep quiet during the 2016 presidential race; Jeb Bush will announce his run for the Republican nomination on Monday in Miami. But she could resist adding: “I think he’s brilliant.”
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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 Lauren.Sproull@barbarabush.org.