Former first lady Barbara Bush is bringing her foundation, and its nearly 25-year mission to end illiteracy, to Michigan.
The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has plans for Michigan, including a publication aimed at new moms that will be given out at hospitals called Love, Read, Learn. It also will partner with a charter school in Detroit to provide family literary services this fall.
“Individuals, communities and states must step up if we are to succeed in creating a nation where everyone has a chance to learn the skills they need to succeed as parents, workers, and citizens,” Bush said.
No doubt she’ll mention her foundation during an appearance in Grand Rapids on Monday along with daughter-in-law and fellow former first lady Laura Bush at the Gerald R. Ford Foundation luncheon celebrating first ladies.
Barbara Bush is the matriarch of the political dynasty.
It was very different decades earlier when, as a young mom, she had to figure out how to help her son, Neil Bush, who was having trouble reading. He was diagnosed with dyslexia.
“Mom spent hours reading with him,” daughter Doro Bush Koch said. Her brother overcame his learning disability.
Koch is now co-chairwoman of her mom’s foundation along with her brother former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Barbara Bush will remain an adviser.
That experience of seeing her son suffer with a learning disability left an imprint. She wondered about children who didn’t have parents willing or able to help because they were illiterate, too.
Once in the White House, she launched her foundation.
“The stark reality of illiteracy can burden families and futures for generations. Today, there are 30 million Americans who are illiterate, unable to help their own children succeed in school and life,” she said.
Her foundation started with a mission of creating and expanding classrooms where families and children could learn to read together.
Since then, the nonprofit has invested more than $50 million in grants to 1,200 literacy programs.
Michigan is one of the largest states that the foundation — based in Tallahassee, Fla. — is focusing on. Its focus had been in Texas, Maine, Florida, Maryland — home states of the Bush family.
Liza McFadden, director of the foundation, said it decided to expand into Michigan because “Michigan is important, as it is a leader in charter schools. The uniqueness of Michigan’s education reform makes it something we are taking a look at.”
Rob Tiede, an auto executive in metro Detroit, is leading the foundation’s efforts in Michigan.
“For almost 25 years, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has been making an amazing impact on the landscape of our society, one mother and one child at a a time,” said Tiede. “Mrs. Bush should be applauded, celebrated, respected and admired. ”
The foundation has been raising money though Celebration of Reading events with authors. Like most nonprofits, it is looking for donors.
Koch has been to the state many times campaigning for her family.
The Bush clan is also gearing up for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas on April 25.
With so much going on in the Bush household, the mission of what Barbara Bush intended when she started her foundation is never lost or far removed from the family’s conversations.
“One-hundred percent literacy is our motto,” said Koch of her mother’s foundation.
Contact Carol Cain: 313-222-6732 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She is senior producer and host of \”Michigan Matters,\” which airs 11:30 a.m. Sundays on CBS 62.
More Details: If you want to go
Barbara and Laura Bush are to appear noon-1:30 p.m. Monday at the Gerald R. Ford Foundation luncheon “America’s First Ladies: An Enduring Legacy” at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.
• For more information: www.geraldrfordfoundation.org /events-schedule or 616-254-0396
• For information on Barbara Bush’s literacy foundation: www.barbarabushfoundation.com