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PRESS RELEASE

January 28, 2002

CONTACT: Elizabeth Hirst
(850) 488-5394

Application Process to Begin for Governor Bush's Family Literacy Grants
Program provides opportunities for parents and children to enhance reading skills

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush today announced the opening of the application process for public and private non-profit education and community organizations seeking the Governor's Family Literacy Grants. The initiative will award over $1 million in family literacy grants of up to $50,000 each, to public and private non-profit education and community organizations.

"We must encourage reading as a value in every home in Florida. We cannot begin too young, nor grow too old to appreciate the benefits reading brings to our lives," Governor Bush said. "When moms and dads decide to continue their own education by improving their reading skills, these efforts will leave a lasting and positive impression upon their children that education is of the highest value."

The Governor's Family Literacy Initiative is committed to creating a statewide understanding that every Floridian can assist in the family literacy movement. Efforts are made to encourage parents to read to their children and improve their own literacy skills, and to encourage all Floridians to serve as literacy volunteers. To spur this effort, the Governor's Family Literacy Initiative is proud of its leadership over the past two years in having awarded $2.25 million to start or expand 45 family literacy programs throughout the state.

On November 30, 1999, former First Lady Barbara Bush joined Governor Bush in the launching of the Governor's Family Literacy Initiative for Florida. Begun as a pilot program in southeast Florida, the program is now statewide in nature and served over 1,100 family members last year. Programs must provide literacy training to both parents and their children - including time when the parents and children read together. Survey results indicate that 90 percent of these parents are reading more to their children.

The Governor's Family Literacy Initiative is a unique effort between the Governor's Office and the Florida Literacy Coalition, the statewide umbrella organization serving over 300 literacy providers in the state. This effort is further enhanced by the involvement of the Barbara Bush Foundation and key state partners including Verizon Communications, Comcast Cable, Cooper and Hayes, GE, International Council of Cruiselines, Publix, the Orlando Magic and a variety of other educational and business partners who bring both supportive funding and excellent promotional opportunities to family literacy.

The Florida Literacy Coalition, Inc., a non-profit literacy resource center, is a statewide literacy support center that serves all literacy providers in our state. The coalition serves as the administrative and fiscal agent for the statewide initiative.

The Florida Literacy Coalition will be accepting applications beginning Monday, January 28. The application deadline is Friday, March 29. Applications received after 5:00 pm EST will not be considered for designation. Copies of the application may be obtained by logging on to www.myflorida.com, www.floridaliteracy.org, www.barbarabushfoundation.com, by calling (407) 246-7104, or by writing to:

Jill Dotts
The Florida Literacy Coalition
934 North Magnolia Avenue, Suite 104
Orlando, FL 32803-3854

Applications may be mailed or hand delivered to the address listed above. The Governor will announce the grant recipients in June. For more information on the Governor's Family Literacy Initiative for Florida, visit the state of Florida's website at www.flamentoring.org or the Florida Literacy Coalition's web site at www.floridaliteracy.org.

Governor Bush is also pushing to improve reading proficiency among Florida's students via state and federal resources. During his State of the State last week, he asked legislators to commit to long-term fundamental reading initiatives that will achieve the goal of helping all children read at grade level by fourth grade. The Department of Education is currently evaluating the effectiveness of reading programs to identify the programs that are most effective at improving reading. Combined with federal funds made available through the Reading First initiative, the Governor is recommending that next year we spend more than $50 million in state and federal funds to enhance reading in kindergarten through 8th grade. This money will go toward professional development for teachers and innovative programs for students that are aimed at meeting our reading goals.