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The Challenge


The odds are stacked against precious children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are raised in homes where parents lack the fundamental reading and writing skills necessary to achieve the American Dream. For children who are raised in homes with low-literate parents, their environments are less stimulating, creating an achievement gap that is evident as early as nine months of age.

Research tells us:

  • Children can be 18 months behind by the start of kindergarten.
  • If a child is not reading proficiently by 3rd grade, they are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

Unbelievably, 36 million adults in America cannot read or write at the most basic level. A recent study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development concluded that the United States was “very weak in literacy.” The group surveyed 24 countries and compared levels of adults’ literacy. The results were alarming, revealing this challenge – a larger proportion of American adults have poor literacy skills when compared to other countries.

Illiteracy is America’s Biggest Challenge. Low literacy skills are directly linked to greater inequality, higher unemployment, less earned income and poor health. Sadly, the education and social mobility gap in America continues to grow. This growing education inequality creates less financial opportunity and social mobility for low-income families, resulting in a stagnant U.S. economy. Investing in family literacy is critical to the success of our families and nation.

Learn more about how we are tackling America’s Biggest Challenge with innovative solutions, including Barbara Bush Scholarships and family literacy programs.

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