Q: What happens to the charitable initiatives of first ladies after they leave office? Michelle Obama’s focus is military families and Let’s Move!, which is tackling childhood obesity. What were the initiatives of Hillary Clinton, and Barbara and Laura Bush? What is the status of their projects?
—Beryle I. Baker, Decatur
A: Barbara Bush is still involved with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which she founded while she was first lady from 1989-93. “The Barbara Bush Foundation is a public charity which supports families and local communities nationwide, each year awarding millions of dollars to successful family literacy programs,” according to the foundation’s website. Several schools and at least one library have been named for her. Clinton (1993-2001) was more politically active than most first ladies and was a key figure in the passage of the Foster Care Independence Act in 1999. She also headed the task force on national healthcare reform and was the founding chair of the Save America’s Treasures committee, which “invests in the preservation of America’s threatened cultural and historic treasures.” Laura Bush (2001-09) championed education and women’s health through organizations like the National Book Festival in Washington, the National Anthem Project, The Heart Truth and the Women’s Health and Wellness Initiative, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Laura Bush was ambassador for The Heart Truth, which helps raise awareness of the risks of heart disease in women, for six years. The National Anthem Project was a short-term effort to teach Americans the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and stress music education. It lasted from 2005-07.
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