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Takeaways from the Laura Bush Foundation’s Austin Visit

May 20, 2015 by Tracy Young

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.


Author

Tracy Young
Tracy Young

Tracy Young serves as senior advisor for the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries, a restricted fund at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.  She first joined the George W. Bush Institute in November 2014 as the Director of Education Reform. Before joining the Bush Institute, she served as the Vice President of Public & Government Affairs at the Texas Charter Schools Association. Prior to her non-profit work, Tracy served as Director of Communications for Texas House Speaker Joe Straus from 2009 - 2012.

During the last year of the George W. Bush Administration, she was Deputy Regional Representative for Secretary Spellings, based in Texas. Tracy worked as Special Assistant for Education at the White House during the 2007 No Child Left Behind reauthorization efforts. In 2005, she was named Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education where she directed the Strategic Communications team and the press office. Prior to her work at the U.S. Department of Education, Tracy served as the Associate Director of Communications at the White House, focused on the Domestic Policy Council. At the start of the George W. Bush Administration, Tracy worked on Communications media events on the White House grounds, including her favorite events of the year – Tee Ball on the South Lawn. Before the start of her public service, Tracy worked with the N.R.C.C. on behalf of congressional candidates across the country. She also worked in the non-profit sector with college students, university and community leaders to increase awareness and participation in volunteer service. Tracy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and minor in psychology from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, and is a native of Euless, Texas.

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