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Our Solutions


Moved by the devastating effects of illiteracy and the turnaround possible through family literacy programs, we are compelled to speak up at every opportunity. The Barbara Bush Foundation is the leading advocate for family literacy in the country, and not just because we sponsor the most programs. In fact, we encourage others to establish robust family literacy programs like ours.


(1) Unmet need – waiting lists in all states for adult education programs in public schools and waiting lists for our family literacy programs

(2) Predictable school failure for children of illiterate parents – lacking age-expected communication skills, they start school behind, never catching up and graduating

(3) Negative impacts on us all – more than two-thirds of students who cannot read sufficiently in 4th grade end up in jail or on welfare, and a global position that is rapidly declining (even in rates of literacy and education) and

(4) Cost of illiteracy to taxpayers and businesses — more than $20 billion a year.

We are encouraged that the X Prize Foundation has explained addressing literacy as its newest challenge because “literacy is the key to eliminating poverty, creating world peace and saving the environment.” The Foundation’s general mission is holding prize competitions to solve “the World’s Grand Challenges.” Our policy council, led by Bill Simon and Denine Torr of the Dollar General Foundation – two of the country’s largest retailers and literacy advocates – are keeping us involved in supporting the X Prize competition.

This year our “Help Them Read” campaign, leveraged a 2,500-book donation by Scholastic.TM  In just two weeks’ time, readers’ favorite-book votes generated a book donation to Barbara Bush families for every vote cast.

If you read and take to heart the information on our website’s pages, we think you, like our Foundation, the X Prize Foundation, and ScholasticTM will become strong advocates of family literacy.


Over the past 25 years, the Barbara Bush Foundation has sponsored 1,500 family literacy programs in 50 states. Why family literacy? Because the child’s first school is home; the child’s first teacher is mother; and the child’s first subject is reading.Homepage Slide 1

Our programs concurrently teach adults to read and their pre-school children prepare to read. These classes are followed by a session with parents practicing reading to their children – and later, at home. Families receive books to start their personal libraries.

Through decades of research there is a common element among the researchers’ reports: family literacy is more effective than adults-only or children-only literacy/reading programs. It does little good to donate books to families when the books can’t be read.

We talk about lack of opportunities for adults to become literate and children to gain necessary skills in early childhood for academic success later. Of course, these deficits are caused by insufficient funds to provide solutions.

Yet, in our case, there is a small price considering the lasting results from this positive intervention. Adult participants in our family literacy programs not only gain personally from their reading achievement, but they become better parents – we have parenting sessions — and help their children start first grade on par with their peers. It is obvious that what young children learn from the adults who raise them lays the foundation for future social, emotional, language, and intellectual growth. Parents gain motivation to succeed from their children and vice versa, their class work further reinforced by practice at home. With dual-generational family literacy, the sum is greater than the parts.

To learn more about why and how the Barbara Bush family literacy programs are successful, see the “Solutions” menu. To meet some of our successful students, go to “Success Stories” in the “Solutions” menu.

In addition, a very valuable literacy initiative of the Barbara Bush Foundation is not provided through a personal presence, but by a guidebook. The Foundation distributes, free-of-charge, Love, Read, Learn!TM  baby journals in hospitals for new mothers. The engaging and educational scrapbook-style journal is filled with reading and learning tips, plus child wellness information. One of the greatest benefits of the journal is that mothers learn why and how to communicate (including, read) with their children from the very beginning.


When you read these pages and do the math, you realize there are millions of parents and children we can’t reach with our family literacy programs. We do try to catch children in their first three grades in school – before it’s too late – with our Teen TrendsettersTM program. This is another Barbara Bush Foundation program run on a shoestring so that we may reach more students.

Teen Trendsetters is a mentoring program that pairs high school mentors with 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade students who are six months or more behind in reading. Because of all the volunteer hours contributed, the program operates at a very low cost. Any funds donated to Teen Trendsetters helps to pay for a teacher-sponsor’s stipend for overseeing activity and inputting program data, a comprehensive  training program for mentors, curriculum and take-home books, the Foundation’s regional, school-liaison staff and, in some cases, extras, such as transporting mentors.

The elementary school children are at least six months behind grade level in reading. We know, if this is the child’s achievement by fourth grade, he or she is unlikely to graduate. Not only does the mentor help the mentee in their weekly meetings read with a Teen Trendsetters science-based curriculum, BrainstormTM, but also assists with reading problems the child brings to the mentor.

To learn about why and how the is program is successful, see “Teen Trendsetters” in the “Solutions” menu.







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