The late Barbara Bush, wife of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, once said, “If we don’t give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren’t giving everyone an equal chance to succeed.

Seated woman with open book, reading to children gathered around her (© Charles Tasnadi/AP Images)
Barbara Bush reads to children in Washington in 1989. (© Charles Tasnadi/AP Images)

She founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy more than 25 years ago to empower American families through literacy.

The American people, U.S. businesses and organizations share Mrs. Bush’s sentiment and work in myriad ways to help the 750 million illiterate adults and 330 million school-age children around the world learn to read and break the cycle of poverty.

As the world marks International Literacy Day on September 8, learn more about five ways the U.S. supports literacy worldwide.

1. INNOVATORS COMPETE FOR AWARDS
All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development — A partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development, World Vision and the Australian government sponsors a global competition looking for new technologies and approaches for teaching children in developing countries. The program has helped more than 500,000, including children with disabilities.

2. U.S. FARMERS DELIVER TO CLASSROOMS
McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program — A U.S. Department of Agriculture program provides U.S. agricultural products, school meals, nutrition programs and teacher training to low-income countries.

3. TECHNOLOGY MAKES READING FUN
Mobiles for Education Alliance — The U.S. government, businesses and foundations are involved with this global effort to make free downloadable books, apps and other mobile material available in local languages for teachers and students in low-income countries.

4. PARTNERS TEAM UP TO BUILD CLASSROOMS
The Global Partnership for Education — Private and public organizations, including some from the U.S., contribute to this fund, which helps countries build classrooms, train teachers and provide textbooks and works to ensure equal education for girls.

5. EMPLOYERS GET INVOLVED
U.S. companies large and small support literacy efforts around the world. Eastman Kodak Company, for example, has placed more than 30,000 books and printed materials into the hands of thousands of children worldwide through its Print for Good program. Boeing Company, Microsoft Corporation and Townsend Press are among other U.S. companies active with global literacy.