Posted by admin on 11.29.2007 at 8:29 pm
Our student book drive leaders are a great bunch. In between classes, jobs, activities (and probably a few parties) they find the time to organize and promote book drives to benefit literacy groups all over the world. Without the devotion of this esteemed group, we’d be lost. In addition to the great work they do with Better World Books, many of our student leaders are changing the world. A few months ago I learned of a student at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia who was working on opening a library in Kigali, Rwanda. I soon contacted Logan Gibson and we’ve been working together on a book drive at W & L. Through the Better World Books model Logan is able to raise funds for her library while collecting books for Books For Africa. I have been inspired by her hard work and tenacity. Here’s Logan’s story…in her own words:
A summer teaching English in South Africa my sophomore year ignited my love for the continent. The following year, 2007, I took on the effort to set up a library for the secondary school my cousin is building in Rwanda, and received a $10,000 Projects for Peace Grant to get it started. With the guidance of Washington and Lee University professors and librarians, I spent three months soliciting donations, purchasing books and software, making shipments, and devising a unique library cataloging system.
When I stepped of the plane in Kigali, Rwanda, I found that the books I had shipped three months earlier had not yet arrived. Though temporarily projectless, I was thrilled to immerse myself in Rwandan culture, get to know my Rwandan family, and take over teaching my cousin’s class of forty students, ages 9-46, while she traveled to America. The class was composed of pastors, electricians, mothers, farmers, and children, and though I stood at the front of the room, ours was a symbiotic relationship of learning and understanding. At night, I poured over the journals of the students—thankful for such an intimate window into their lives and inspired by each of their stories of devastating loss, forgiveness, and hope. I spent my free time devouring books on Rwanda’s peace and reconciliation process and found to my surprise that Rwandans were willing to speak about the genocide.
I traveled to Arusha, Tanzania to observe the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda where the masterminds of the genocide are put to trial. When I returned to Rwanda, I attended the traditional Gacaca courts where more grassroots reconciliation takes place. Sitting cross-legged in a field, I watched murderers confess to the families of their victims and walk free—an indispensable human experiment in restorative, not retributive justice.
The 2,500 pounds of books began to arrive shortly before I returned to America, and I spent sleepless nights cataloging them with the added inspiration that the students who had inspired me daily in the classroom would soon have the chance to experience the creative power of these stories. Through the library project, my hope is to cultivate peace in a small way by creating a safe and stimulating environment where both Hutu and Tutsi children can come together and use literary access as a healing resource.
Back on campus at Washington and Lee University, I step with purposeful energy. As chairwoman of W&L’s speakers committee, I am organizing a “Re-imagining Rwanda” forum this spring, and as campus President for Books for Africa, I am leading the effort to recycle and reuse books for use in Africa. The library project challenged me to be innovative, entrepreneurial, and flexible, but it was the personal relationships I formed with my students and my own observations of Rwanda’s growth and reconciliation that have truly inspired me to study and share the intimate lessons of Rwanda’s healing example.
Check out Logan’s amazing blog for more stories and information.
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, africa, book drive, campus, Impact, washington and lee
Posted by King on 11.29.2007 at 10:55 am
You may also have heard the fancy business jargon: “With the certification, Better World Books joins a growing international network of purpose-driven businesses dedicated to setting a new standard for social and environmental performance, creating benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.”
How ironic, a statement that explains how B corporations are different from a standard “C Corporation”, but uses the same confusing business-speak to do so.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have a business degree, and I respect and understand the need for very specific language and multi syllabic nomenclature in order to be effective within the business world; however, I also understand how corporate vernacular can sound ridiculous to the average human being.
So lets break it down for a second. Capitalism itself has a bad reputation to many people. You hear “Capitalism”, you think “big evil corporation exploiting people”. And then you hear things like “the best way to make your operation more robust is by improving your economies of scale“, and you think “who actually talks like that?”. ( I will admit, I occasionally speak like that) But let’s face it, Capitalism itself is powerful. What if we could harness this power, and use it for good?
Well, that’s what it means to be B Corporation. The power of Business, the intention of goodness. It’s like using a Hybrid cars made out of recycled parts to deliver meals on wheels to hungry people.
Or in our case, it is selling books to promote literacy.
You may have noticed that I used the word “ironic” a couple paragraphs up here. Being that we are all about literacy, I feel compelled to clear up how this word is often misused. Many people have said “that is ironic”, when they actually meant to say “that is humorous”, or “that is unfortunate”. Irony means achieving a result that is the opposite of your intentions. The best example is Oedipus, from Greece. He was given a prophecy that he would someday kill his father and marry is mother. Clearly, that is not something he would want to happen… so he moved far away. As a result of his departure, he ended up not even recognizing his parents later in life, and (SPOILER ALERT!! Stop reading if you do not want to know the fate of Oedipus) he ended up in fact killing his father and marrying his mother. Poor Oedipus.
Now, I could say “how ironic that I warned you of ‘spoiling’” the Oedipus story. But that would be wrong. It is not ironic at all, just humorous that I would use a spoiler alert to protect you from learning the end of a story that has been around for millions of years*, when typically spoiler alerts are only used for new stories.
1. Better World Books is proud to be a B Corporation.
2. B Corportions are awesome.
3. Irony is a powerful literay device if used properly, but with great power comes great responsibility.
4. Times were tough in Ancient Greece
*Hyperbole used for effect.
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, b corporation, hilarious posts
Posted by admin on 11.28.2007 at 3:00 pm
The National Center for Family Literacy and McDonald’s restaurants in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties in California partnered to distribute more than 12,000 age-appropriate books in honor of National Family Literacy Day. Yay, literacy (with fries on the side)! (Original Story)
Have your say » | Tagged Impact, Our Partners, Impact, McDonald's, NCFL, Our Partners
Posted by King on 11.28.2007 at 7:39 am
From Left to right pictured are Rod Risley (Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa), Xavier Helgesen (one of the co-founders of Better World Books), Al Gore (former Vice President of the United States), Aaron King (Director of the Campus Division for Better World Books, and the guy writing this post), and David Murphy (CEO of Better World Books).
Now I know because I am standing behind Mr. Gore, I look like I was photoshopped into this photo.. but trust me, I was there, it is just a trick of the light. If this were a court of law, I would say “look, you can see the shadow from his shoulder on my suit jacket, I really was there!”
So, I would love to say that Al Gore, while contemplating his next initiative to help the environment, heard the news that Better World Books and Phi Theta Kappa were teaming up to run book drives on college campuses around the country, keeping books out of landfills, providing funding for Phi Theta Kappa chapters, and most importantly, raising money for literacy programs.
When Al Gore heard of this wonderful partnership, he immediately arranged a meeting with us to encourage us in our good work, and then took a photo with us.
Unfortunately, the above tale would be a fabrication; yes, we do have a great partnership with Phi Theta Kappa, and yes we have saved millions of books from landfills, and raised a lot of money for Phi Theta Kappa and literacy too.. but Al Gore did not set up any meeting with us.
Mr. Gore was gracious enough to be one of the speakers at the Phi Theta Kappa conference in Nashville in April 2007, and there was a Photo Session Scheduled where a select group of conference attendees got to stand in line and cycle through for a Photo Op with Mr. Gore. We had about 15 seconds to say hi and tell him about our program, but lets be honest, Mr. Gore met thousands of people that day… so lets just say I am not expecting any invites to his house for coffee anytime soon.
While we were waiting for our 15 seconds with Mr. Gore, we a got a chance to meet Kevin Sharp, country music star, cancer survivor, and inspirational speaker, another one of the presenters at the conference. He had hosted his own photo op the previous day, and now got to experience the other side, waiting in line just behind us for the chance to meet Al Gore.
So let me close by saying: Mr. Gore, it was very nice to meet you, I won’t be offended if you don’t remember me, and thanks again for inventing the internet, allowing me to post articles like this.
I hope that Better World Books can continue to work with Phi Theta Kappa and all of our amazing partners to someday save enough books from landfills and raise enough money for literacy that Mr. Gore features us as a great way to help improve the world in whatever his next project is.
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, Al Gore, conferences, literacy, Phi Theta Kappa
Posted by King on 11.26.2007 at 12:52 pm
I just read about this amazing concept: Getting laptops for everyone in the world! They designed a new robust amazing laptop, made it cheap, made it fun… and i wont try to do it justice here, check it out: http://www.laptopgiving.org/en/explore.php
For a limited time, you can “give one, get one”, buy one of these bad boys for yourself and send one to a child in need. and, it is tax deductible! Load it up!
I just did it, I feel great about it, and I can’t wait to get my new toy….
Also, you get a free T-mobile wi-fi access for a year… wow, this thing is practically free!
[Ed: check out the news about the recent spat with Intel and other things at One Laptop Per Child News]
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, computers, literacy, off-topic
Posted by admin on 11.26.2007 at 11:19 am
As many of you may know, December 1st is World AIDS Awareness Day. From the World AIDS Day site:
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2007 some 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.
Around 95% of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing nations. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.
Started on 1st December 1988, World AIDS Day is not just about raising money, but also about increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.
[...] The 2007 theme, “leadership”, highlights the need for innovation, vision and perseverance in the face of the AIDS challenge. The campaign calls on all sectors of society such as families, communities and civil society organizations – rather than just governments – to take the initiative and provide leadership on AIDS.
There you go, click the link and find out how to help.
You may be saying “I understand why you bring in environmental issues on the blog, Better World Books has a triple bottom line that emphasizes environmental impact, but why a focus on AIDS today?” (although you’re likely not using these exact words…)
Well, reader, note the following:
”Recognizing that poverty, underdevelopment and illiteracy are among the principal contributing reasons to the spread of HIV/AIDS…”
(Para 11, United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS)
Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS 2001)
Now you get it, right? Our work everyday with literacy partners Worldfund, Books for Africa, Room to Read and The National Center for Family Literacy is all about getting books and education to the people that most need them. In this way we make our effort to battle poverty, underdevelopment and illiteracy, the very things that the UN has identified as the “principal contributing reasons to the spread of HIV.”
We don’t just talk a big game folks, we walk it. So get out there, tell a friend, spread the word, start a book drive, or buy a book, but make sure to do something to live out the tenet that “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.” -Ghandi
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, AIDS, literacy, off-topic
Posted by admin on 11.23.2007 at 1:42 pm
The following blog post is from Tim Stewart working with the Belmont (University) Volunteers for Literacy to run a drive:
For the past 2 years, Belmont Volunteers for Literacy, a student run group dedicated to improving literacy among children and adults in the Nashville community through educating students about the problem of illiteracy and involving students in literacy tutoring, has participated in the Better World Books Book Drive in order to assist in funding their annual Family Literacy Day.
Belmont’s Annual Family Literacy Day, which was begun in the spring of 2000, is designed to celebrate the joys of reading with children and their parents in our community. Serving as a culmination of the various ongoing tutoring and service projects that students are engaged in throughout the school year, the event involves more than 150 student volunteers and engages 200 – 300 children annually. Student groups organize “Reading Circles” with different themes. One fraternity, for example, dresses up like pirates and reads pirate stories. Nursing students have done health themes and read fun children’s books about the importance of taking care of our bodies.
In addition to the Reading Circles, we have reading related games and crafts and the children can get their faces painted like their favorite character in a book. Refreshments and door prizes round out the festivities and each child has the opportunity to choose a book or two to take home from a large collection of books donated by a local literacy organization.
Though additional funding is necessary to put on the event, the portion we receive from our Fall and Spring Book Drives provides a significant contribution to our efforts. We are pleased to be able to support literacy initiatives both globally and locally through our partnership with Better World Books.
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, belmont university, book drive, campus
Posted by admin on 11.21.2007 at 11:07 am
World Change Starts
With Educated Children®
Our partners are always making big news. I can hardly post something on here before something new and exciting comes out about the same group. For example, before we showed you Room to Read at the Clinton Global Initiative, and you would think that would be enough excitement for a while, but alas reader, you would be mistaken. My inbox tells me today that Room to Read is up to more big things. Feel free to check out the full newsletter or my digest below for you busy types.
Room to Read has partnered with GOOD Magazine since 2006 to benefit children in the developing world through GOOD’s unique subscription/donor model. Founded by Ben Goldhirsch in 2004, the magazine seeks to “do good” in the world by contributing 100% of subscription revenue to twelve selected charities. Through this “Choose Good” campaign, subscribers select the charity they would like their donation to go to – this year they have contributed over $52,000 to Room to Read! [emphasis mine]
In addition to donating subscription fees to charities, GOOD hosts a number of events around the country to spread awareness about the Choose Good campaign and their charity partners. These events are always a lot of fun and offer a great opportunity to meet other individuals who are passionate about changing the world. For a list of upcoming GOOD events, please visit: www.goodmagazine.com.
The Literacy Site
Room to Read has been selected as a charity partner of the Literacy Site, which is dedicated to funding free books for children. With a simple daily click of the “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button at The Literacy Site, visitors help provide free books to children in need. Visitors pay nothing. The funding of these books is paid for by advertising site sponsors and accomplished through the site’s charitable partners, Room to Read and First Book.
On average, 70,000 individuals visit the site each day to click the “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button. To date, more than 55 million visitors have helped provide more than a million books to children who need them the most. We hope you will bookmark the site and visit everyday to click and help children in need get free books. Every click counts!
Little notes (still N.B.!):
- Room to Read and John Wood are featured on page 59-60 in Bill Clinton’s book Giving
- John Wood and Erin Ganju, Room to Read’s COO, were invited to a breakfast at the White House with the First Lady Laura Bush
- Room to Read is the featured charity in Neiman Marcus’ 100th Year Anniversary Christmas Book which debuted on October 2
- Literacy One (a product of Scholastic, Boeing and Cathway Pacific) takes flight, carrying 750,000 English language children’s books for libraries in over the next three years.
- Room to Read opens library in Nepal: their 5000th library!!!
Posted by admin on 11.20.2007 at 4:00 pm
Picture of Bruno, Student of the Month from Alagoas, Brazil
Hey all Worldfund supporters, this one goes out to you, a la Luanne Zurlo, Executive Director:
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for your generosity to Worldfund. Since our foundation five years ago, we have invested $3.2 million in the education of some 30,000 children in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.
Your contributions this past year enabled Worldfund to finance our partner schools, teacher training, and gifted youth programs throughout the region. Your donations have helped fund scholarships for over 440 children; repair school buildings in Peru that were damaged in last summer’s earthquake; and train 50 Mexican teachers in English language instruction through our partnership with Nextel, the Rassias Foundation at Dartmouth College, and Fundación Televisa. We have also increased our support to Brazil by adding three new programs: the Reading Circles Program in São Paulo, the Starfish School in Maceió, Alagoas, and the Steve Biko Cultural Institute in Salvador, Bahia.
We sincerely thank you for your support. You have truly made a difference in the lives of underprivileged children and their families in Latin America!
Students in Acapulco, Mexico, sending their thanks.
Have your say » | Tagged Impact, Our Partners, Impact, luanne zurlo, Our Partners, partner updates, worldfund
Posted by admin on 11.19.2007 at 12:09 pm
The National Endowment for the Arts released a study on American reading habits recently. The study draws on more than 40 sources, including federal agencies and universities, and examines the reading habits of American children, teens, and adults. The study found that nearly one-half of Americans aged 18-24 read no books for pleasure! It also found that 65% of American college freshman either do not read for pleasure, or read less than one hour each week. That trend improves slightly through college, with 1/3 of American college seniors reading nothing for pleasure during the week.
There is a lot of discussion on the study. Are we reading less or are we reading differently? Some argue that the decline is not actually a decline at all, but a transfer of attention. Rather than reading books and newspapers, teens and young adults are utilizing the internet for their news and entertainment. Hmmm…
Check out: The NEA site to learn more.
The attached picture is ME on Pearl Street in Boulder, CO while I was on my tour of conferences, campuses and bookstores in the Rockies.
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, literacy statistics
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