CITGO Supports Child Literacy With Bess the Book Bus Sponsorship

Funding will help program meet goal of donating 100,000 books in nationwide tour

Published in CSP Daily News

HOUSTON -- CITGO Petroleum Corp. said that it will continue its support of Tampa, Fla.-based mobile literacy outreach, and past Fueling Good winner, Bess the Book Bus with a sponsorship of its "2011 Success in Sight Tour." Bess the Book Bus will visit more than 44 states through the end of 2011 with a goal of reaching more than 20,000 underserved families and donating 100,000 new books to inspire young minds through the adventures that reading can bring.

"Everyone at CITGO is extremely excited to continue our sponsorship of Bess the Book Bus," said Gustavo Velasquez, vice [image-nocss] president of supply and marketing with CITGO. "We saw the great work that Bess did with a year's supply of CITGO fuel in our 2009 Fueling Good campaign. We are proud to have played a role in providing more than 60,000 books to needy children, reaching more than 10,000 families across the country. As we expand our support for this charity, we look forward to making a positive impact on nationwide literacy levels."

Bess the Book Bus was founded in 2002 by Jennifer E. Frances as a way to promote literacy and provide needy children with access to brand new books in and around Tampa, Fla. From its humble beginnings, Frances has grown the program into one of the nation's most innovative mobile literacy initiatives. Year round, Frances and volunteers take Bess the Book Bus directly to underserved communities to read to children and provide what for many youngsters is their first new book. Fueled by excited children, a desire to raise literacy levels, and high-quality CITGO fuel, Bess the Book Bus is ready to travel the United States, reaching out and inspiring children with books.

"I am thrilled about my partnership with CITGO and to keep on Fueling Good," said Frances. "We have an aggressive goal this year but with the backing of CITGO, the local Marketers and Retailers, refinery teams, and corporate employees, I am confident that 2011 will be our most successful year yet. The red trimark of a locally owned CITGO station is like a beacon for us as we rack up the miles. I know when I pull into a CITGO station, Bess will be filled with the quality fuel that the local CITGO marketers and retailers provide year-round to their communities."

Frances and two volunteers will began their 180-day nationwide tour April 28. They will travel through 44 states and read to thousands of children at schools, Head Start initiatives, afterschool programs, homeless shelters and a wide range of other programs, including unplanned stops along the way, whenever need is identified. After each read-aloud, Jennifer invites the children onto the bus and helps them choose a brand new book that matches their reading level and interests. Locally owned CITGO stations along the route will join with Jennifer to support children in their own communities and keep Bess the Book Bus filled for the tour.

Additional support for the tour is being provided by Transitions Optical and VSP Vision Care, Townsend Press, Capstone Publishers and Candlewick Press.

"CITGO will, once again, honor local heroes like Bess the Book Bus during its 2011 Fueling Good program," added Velasquez. "We look forward to rewarding more charities that work to make a difference in peoples' lives every day."

CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

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