What They Saw in Me

When I was 8 years old, my teacher told my parents that I was failing third grade, that I was mentally retarded (a label used frequently in those days) and that I was essentially unteachable. Thankfully, she didn’t have the last word. Three adults in my neighborhood – a barber, a Methodist minister and a friend’s mother – saw something in me that neither my teacher nor my parents could see. With their strong encouragement and even stronger discipline, I …

Books Program Exposes Kids to the Joy of Literacy

Some people take a fitness class before heading to work. Others jog a mile or two. Jennifer Kenealy, 45, gets her morning workout by hauling boxes of children’s books to schools, recreation centers, youth-focused nonprofit organizations and other sites. These are spots where children of low-income families congregate as part of Alexandria Book Shelf (ABS), a citywide literacy program run by the uber-creative DreamDog Foundation. It is 8 a.m. on a humid, 90-plus-degree morning as Kenealy and I meet in …

Calling All Book Lovers

In my 15 years working at the Library of Congress – my previous stop before AARP – one particular date stands out: Sept. 8, 2001. That was the day of the inaugural Library of Congress National Book Festival. First Lady Laura Bush, herself a former librarian, proposed that we at the Library of Congress organize a literary gathering in Washington, D.C., where authors and readers could connect. The first National Book Festival, similar to the Texas Book Festival that Mrs. …

Health Reform 2.0: Improving Health Literacy of Older Americans

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) increases access to health insurance coverage, establishes a minimum benefit package, makes coverage more affordable, and eliminates most cost sharing for recommended preventive services. Now it’s time to empower consumers to take advantage of these improvements. One way to achieve this goal is to increase basic health literacy. What is health literacy? Health literacy is the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services in order to make appropriate health decisions. Why …

Boomers: Save ‘Til It Hurts

Own Your Tomorrow. OK, so even though that’s the tagline for Charles Schwab’s new advertising campaign, the message also rings true for the millions of Americans age 50 and older who need to keep their saving for retirement on track and take their financial future into their own hands. As part of an Opinion Leader speaker series at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of AARP, incoming CEO Jo Ann Jenkins and Charles Schwab Foundation President Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz discussed the roles that employers, schools and …

What It Takes to Help Students Graduate

By Lester Strong We had good news this year in education. U.S. graduation rates are up by 6.5 percent since 2001. For those of us who work to improve children’s potential to graduate, it’s a validation that we’re making strides. Still, many problems remain that impact graduation rates in this country. One major challenge is that many children are still not reading proficiently by the end of third grade. In fact, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, students who …