Mrs. Barbara Bush announced earlier this summer that the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s Maine Family Literacy Initiative had awarded a $25,000 Lighthouse Model Program Grant to the SPICE Family Literacy Program.

Pat Hughes proudly accepted the award from Bush at a ceremony, held at the J. Richard Martin Community Center in Biddeford, on June 15. The grant will be used in the RSU 3 Students and Parents in Cooperative Education (SPICE) Family Literacy Program to continue offering education services to a large rural region.

The program has always been a home-based program serving most in need families in a 440-square-mile, 11-town district in western Waldo County. The program sends adult education and early childhood instructors into the homes using laptops, computer-assisted curricula and Internet to alleviate the barriers of child care and transportation.

In 2005, the SPICE Program was recognized as an Effective Program and listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Lifelong Learning database.

In 2010, the SPICE program created a virtual school with assistance from a NASA engineer and with help from England and Mexico. Today that virtual school is helping families reach their educational goals and overcoming the issues of rural isolation.

“The abilities to read, write and comprehend enable people to create brighter and more prosperous futures for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Bush, in a press release. “The staff and volunteers with the MEFLI programs are making a wonderful difference in many lives, and I am proud of their work to make Maine a more literate state.”

A total of 10 grants of $25,000 were awarded this year from applications submitted by libraries, adult education and public schools across the state. Programs receiving support provide family literacy services including adult and early childhood instruction, and time for parents and children to read together. An additional two planning grants of $5,000 each will help communities develop the partnerships and resources needed to implement a family literacy program in 2011.

Five “Lighthouse Model Programs” grants of $25,000 have also been awarded to well-established, model family literacy programs that have proposed outreach activities to support the promotion and expansion of family literacy services in Maine.

Applicants were selected based on their ability to demonstrate experience and success in providing family literacy programming, the creativity of their outreach activities, and the diversity of their partnerships and target audiences.

Since 1996, the Maine Family Literacy Initiative has awarded 243 grants totaling $4,341,991. To learn more, visit mainefamilyliteracy.com.

Founded by Barbara Bush in 1989, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy supports the development and expansion of family literacy programs — in settings where parents and children read and learn together — across the United States. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to nonprofit organizations, correctional institutions, homeless shelters, schools and school districts, libraries and community- and faith-based agencies.

As of June 2011, the Foundation has awarded more than $40 million to 902 family literacy programs in 50 states, including the nation’s capital. In addition to its national program, the Foundation supports the work of 4 statewide initiatives in Maine, Texas, Maryland and Florida.

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is a fund of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region in Washington, D.C. To learn more, visit barbarabushfoundation.com.