(Left to right) Neil Bush, Founder & Co-Chair of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, Cat Tramuto, Manager of Deloitte, Federico Salas-Isnardi, Director of the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Director of Houston Public Library and Dr. Julie Baker Finck, Director of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.
Today, the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy (MOAL) and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation announced a joint initiative to increase adult literacy rates and ensure more Houstonians have an equal opportunity to participate fully in our society and the workforce.
Underwritten by the Foundation, with the engagement of Deloitte Consulting, LLP and support of EOG Resources, Greater Houston Community Foundation, and Phillips 66, the Houston Blueprint for Adult Literacy will delineate a first time strategic and coordinated city-wide plan to ensure that more adults in our community receive a second chance in life through the development of strong basic, language, and digital literacy skills, as well as essential workforce skills.
“With one in three Houstonians functionally illiterate, the combined efforts of the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation are essential to achieve transformational change in the lives of adults who cannot read,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This public-private partnership will strengthen the capacity of our adult literacy provider network and our engagement with our city’s functionally illiterate, empowering these citizens to contribute to their community, their families, and their livelihood.”
“More than 30 years ago my late mother, Barbara Bush, began championing adult literacy across our nation, because she firmly believed that every illiterate adult deserves and second chance to live the American Dream and reach their fullest potential in life,” said Neil Bush, Founder and Co-Chair of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. “Maria and I, along with the rest of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, are pleased make this important investment and work alongside Mayor Turner, the staff of the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy, the Houston Public Library, and the multitude of community-based literacy organizations in our city to forever change the lives of so many adults who are currently living in the shadows and unable to fully participate in our society and global economy.”
“This is the time for the public and private sectors to come together to reimagine our efforts to address the literacy challenges of the 21st century,” said Federico Salas-Isnardi, Director of MOAL. “The pandemic has forced us to rethink the way we do business but we are strong. Houston is the only major city in the country where the Mayor’s Office includes an Office for Adult Literacy; with that level of support, coupled with the Houston Adult Literacy Blueprint, literacy providers will be better positioned to implement creative solutions using digital technology to prepare adults for a better future.”
Literacy affects nearly every aspect of life. Yet, one in three adults in Harris County are functionally illiterate and more than 130 million adults in the United States read below a commensurate fourth grade level, according to the most recent results from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) administered by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development.
The development of Houston’s Blueprint for Adult Literacy will take place over a three-month period and will involve data and research analysis and a series of focus groups and interviews with cross-sector leaders – business, nonprofit, government, philanthropic and education. It will also build upon the special report, called Houston’s Literacy Crisis: A Blueprint for Community Action, released by the Foundation in 2014 and expand focus to include digital literacy and integrated workforce skills.
About the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy (MOAL)
On September 17, 2019, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner officially launched the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy (MOAL.) The MOAL will focus on enhancing adult literacy advocacy and awareness and its impact on our economy, communities, families and individuals. The MOAL will also promote awareness of, and advocate and build capacity for, Adult Literacy and Adult Education causes and providers in the City of Houston. The launch of the office was made possible by a generous grant from the CITGO Petroleum Corporation. For more information about the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy, visit www.houstontx.gov/adultliteracy. You can also connect with the MOAL team emailing at AdultLiteracy@Houstontx.gov, or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/HoustonAdultLiteracy, Twitter: @adultliteracyh1, and Instagram: @HouAdultLiteracy.
About the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation
The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is a charitable organization formed by Neil and Maria Bush to carry forth First Lady Barbara Bush’s legacy in the literacy cause and to focus deeply on breaking the intergenerational cycle of low literacy in the Bush family’s hometown. Founded on Mrs. Bush’s belief, “If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless,” the Barbara Bush Foundation’s mission is to improve lives through the power of literacy – the ability to read, write, speak clearly and think critically. The Foundation serves as the champion across the Greater Houston area for the literacy cause, raising awareness for the value and importance of literacy, mobilizing volunteers and resources to build critical capacity of community-based literacy providers, and investing in local literacy programs and services that support children and families to develop strong literacy skills for success. For more information, visit www.bushhoustonliteracy.org or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bushhoustonliteracy on Twitter @bushhoustonlit and on Instagram @bushhoustonlit.
About the Houston Public Library
The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 37 neighborhood libraries, three HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. With more than eight million visits per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.
For more information, visit the Houston Public Library at www.houstonlibrary.org or call 832-393-1313.