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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
March 8, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks on the Gulf Coast School Library Recovery Initiative in Louisiana
Industrial Levee Canal
New Orleans, Louisiana

Thanks a lot. I want to talk about schools just briefly, and particularly about school libraries. In July 2001, I founded a foundation, the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries. The foundation is a private organization that provides grants to school libraries to expand their book collections. Over the last four years, the foundation has awarded 428 grants totaling more than $2 million in 49 states.

In September of last year, the leadership group -- the leadership council of the Laura Bush Foundation met for what was going to be our very last meeting. We had raised the money we wanted to raise for the foundation and we were going to disperse our leadership council. And instead, everyone unanimously wanted to continue to work to raise a specific amount of money for Gulf Coast libraries.

We've established a special fund to help the schools in the Gulf Coast region. The Gulf Coast School Library Recovery Initiative is the name of it. The initiative will help Gulf Coast schools that were damaged by the hurricanes rebuild their book and material collections. And the task is very large. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 1,121 public and private schools in the Gulf Coast region were damaged or destroyed.

The basic initial cost of building a book collection for an elementary school library is $50,000. And the cost for a secondary school library is at least $100,000. So the Laura Bush Foundation website, which everyone can go to -- -- has a simple application that schools can use to apply for funds. Again, the website is

The foundation already uses a competitive grant process to distribute annual grants, and will use the same process for the Gulf Coast funds. Some schools should receive awards by late April or early May. Additional grants will be distributed throughout the year as more schools are rebuilt and ready to stock their libraries.

The Laura Bush Foundation will continue to provide its annual grants to schools throughout the United States. And you can find the details about those grants on the website. But these special grants for the Gulf Coast rebuilding are for schools that were damaged or destroyed by the hurricanes and want to rebuild their library collections.

We all know that schools are at the center of every child's life, and the routine of going to school gives children a sense of comfort that's more important than ever for boys and girls who've endured trauma. The sooner children are back in their own school, the happier and healthier they'll be.

So I want to thank everyone who is working hard to help the Gulf Coast recover. I urge all the Gulf Coast schools that are rebuilding to go to the website and apply for a grant for your school library.

Thanks everybody. (Applause.)

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