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Takeaways from the Laura Bush Foundation’s Austin Visit

Article by Tracy Young May 20, 2015 //   4 minute read

This week, Mrs. Laura Bush visited Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy in Austin, Texas, to announce the 2015 library grants from the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries. Here are the highlights from the visit, which coincided with the launch of the foundation’s newly redesigned website: www.laurabushfoundation.org.

*Mrs. Bush announced more than $875,000 is being distributed to 131 school libraries across the country.  This includes the eight middle schools that each received a $7,000 library grant last October, as a part of the George W. Bush Institute’s Middle School Matters program.

*Six schools in Austin ISD received a 2015 library grant from the foundation. Principals, librarians, and students from each school were present for the announcement:  Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy, Anita Uphaus Early Childhood Center, J. Frank Dobie Pre-Kindergarten Center, Margaret T. Reilly Elementary School, Palm Elementary School, and William B. Travis High School.

* Last year, Blackshear became the first elementary school in Austin to offer expanded fine arts programming.  Robert Grape, the librarian, plans to use this grant to purchase books that focus on different authors, artists, and their work. He will add reading material that will accommodate the fine arts goals of the school, such as photography, music, and dance. As Mrs. Bush said, “Books purchased by grants from the Laura Bush Foundation will help students understand more of the world around them and its limitless possibilities.”

* Attendees also include Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz, several trustees from the Austin ISD school board (including Dr. Ted Gordon, who represents Blackshear Elementary), members of the Blackshear PTA, as well as the 3rd grade students from the school.

* Prior to the announcement, Mrs. Bush visited Ms. Jessica Bowden’s first grade class to watch them perform the book Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman.  The students have been learning reading comprehension by acting out stories.

*Mrs. Bush on why reading matters: “No matter what you want to be when you grow up – a doctor or a lawyer, a Senator, an artist, or a teacher, reading will help you reach your goal.“

More about the Laura Bush Foundation

The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries provides grants up to $7,000 to our nation’s neediest schools so that they can extend, update, and diversify the book and print collections in their libraries. The goal is to encourage students to develop a love of reading and learning.  As Mrs. Bush said in Austin, ““Reading is important to success in school.  If you can read, you can read every subject.”

Since its inception in 2002, the foundation has awarded over $12.5 million to almost 2,500 schools across the country.  In addition to the annual grants, the Gulf Coast School Library Recovery Initiative in 2006 provided more than $6.5 million to school libraries affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita so that they could rebuild book collections lost or destroyed in the storms.

Tracy Young is Director of the Education Reform initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.