The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

Advocating for Literacy Access in the Fight for Equity and Justice

Finalist in Education

Entered in Online Community


Former First Lady Barbara Bush chose literacy as her life’s work based on a simple, but powerful belief: “If more people could read, write, and comprehend, we would be that much closer to solving so many of the problems plaguing our society.”

Low literacy is a silent and enduring crisis in our country. Roughly 54% of U.S. adults aged 16-74 lack proficiency in literacy, essentially reading below a sixth grade level. Over the past three decades, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy (BBF) has supported family literacy programs in all 50 states and D.C., changing the lives of countless parents and children.

In 2020, to continue its fight in addressing unmet adult literacy needs, BBF positioned itself as a modern leader in the literacy field through the strategic use of authentic success stories, helpful resources on adult literacy and programming, and compelling and easy-to-find data and research.

The foundation’s primary communications objectives were as follows:

Strategy and Execution

In a year when very little went to plan, the foundation enhanced its support of adult learners and educators through programs and resources, and continued to build its brand equity, developing engaging digital outreach and amplifying new partnerships and initiatives. BBF focused on the following approach:

Recognized by Forbes during the pandemic as a leader in a time of uncertainty, BBF showed up for learners in need in two big ways:

During this time, BBF also engaged existing and potential donors by:

All of these efforts to position BBF as a key player in solving the literacy crisis were supported by website content, email distribution, and social media across BBF and partner outlets. 

The success of this approach was also amplified by BBF’s strong and consistent brand to guide how, when, and where to reach out to digital audiences. Branding efforts included to:

To build an effective and long-lasting content strategy, BBF messaging centered around the key premise that literacy is the key to solving today's most pressing issues. Our audience-centric approach guided us to post approximately four times a week across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In tandem with our always-content content engine, BBF participated in relevant literacy and equity conversations discovered through social listening, monitoring opportunities to engage around milestones and awareness days like National Literacy Month and National Read a Book Day.

By producing a steady drumbeat of content, entering into relevant conferences, and launching successful new partnerships supported by digital outreach, BBF was able to grow its community, and emerge as a leading voice in 2020 advocating for the importance of literacy in the fight for equity and justice.


As a result of BBF's intentional strategic approach, the foundation's most important audiences— old and new — understand how the foundation helps Americans live with dignity, prosperity, and opportunity through the power of literacy. BBF delivered results across all its objectives this year as measured by the following KPIs:



Video for Advocating for Literacy Access in the Fight for Equity and Justice

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Artemis Ward, The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy