Barbara Bush's literacy legacy lives on through Houston nonprofit

WASHINGTON - MARCH 24: Former first lady and mother of President George W. Bush, Barbara Bush (R) reads "Arthur's New Puppy" during the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House March 24, 2008 in Washington, DC. The annual event was started by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

HOUSTON – At KPRC 2, we're proud to showcase those making a difference in the area we serve. Each week, we will feature a local charity group, nonprofit or organization shaping our community. 

This week, we take a look at an organization dedicated to empowering kids and families in the greater Houston area through the power of literacy: the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.

Mother knows best: Neil Bush founds nonprofit in Barbara Bush's honor 

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation honors one of Barbara Bush's enduring legacies: her passion for reading. Motivated by her son Neil's struggle with dyslexia, Bush championed family literacy throughout her life. 

"The American dream is about equal opportunity for everyone who works hard," Barbara Bush famously said. "If we don't give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren't giving everyone an equal chance to succeed."

In 2013, Neil Bush and his wife, Maria, established the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation in honor of Neil's mother. The foundation's mission is rooted in her vision — "If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless."

Late Barbara Bush's literacy legacy lives on in Houston

Neil Bush and Maria Bush created the foundation to help break the cycle of low literacy and poverty among families in Houston. The foundation's goal stems from Barbara Bush's belief that the path to achieving the American dream begins with learning to read. 

The foundation envisions a future — by 2030, to be exact — when every child in Houston will read at or above grade level by third grade.

Here a book, there a book, everywhere a book

In 2018, the foundation raised $5.07 million overall and distributed 150,666 books to children through its initiative My Home Library, which invites children to select six books to get for free. Since its launch in 2017, 51,461 Houston received free books through the program.

The foundation also partners with local efforts, including the Harris County Public Library's mobile library, Curiosity Cruiser; the Children's Museum of Houston's Camp Adventure!; and the Houston Independent School District's literacy program, Read Houston Read.

Donate your money, your time, or both

Purchase a book for a Houston child through the foundation's My Home Library program or donate new and gently used books through one of 22 book collection programs.

Learn how to donate directly to the foundation here. For volunteer opportunities, head here.

Do you have a spirit of service? Join these groups.

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation also works closely with two auxiliary groups; the Ladies for Literacy Guild and the Young Professionals Group.

The service-oriented Ladies for Literacy Guild champions Barbara Bush's vision of literacy for all and hosts several annual events and initiatives to support the foundation.

The Young Professionals group organizes a reading mentorship program at Jefferson Elementary School in HISD and hosts several annual events promoting literacy.

Grub out and give back at these annual events

The Ladies for Literacy Guild hosts the Power of Literacy Luncheon each year. Since its inception, the Ladies for Literacy Guild has raised nearly $1 million through the Power of Literacy Luncheons to fund local literacy initiatives. In 2018, the event raised over $363,000.

This year, the luncheon will take place Friday, Oct. 25, at The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown.

Each year, the Young Professionals Group hosts the Jungle Book Gala. In 2018, the event raised nearly $300,000. Proceeds benefit the Foundation's My Home Library and Camp Adventure! initiatives. 

This year, the event will take place on Nov. 8, at 8 p.m. at The Revaire.

Do you know a nonprofit, charity group or organization making a positive change in our community? Give them a shout out at We're always searching for new Houston do-gooders to feature.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.