Posted by Jack on 10.21.2008 at 10:12 am
ATLANTA, GA – This fall, media-based non-profit Invisible Children will connect students to the overwhelming crisis in Africa in a totally new way – with a documentary told from the perspective of high school students. GO, the first of its kind, is the story of a group of students that traveled into the heart of Africa’s longest-running war. At the end of the 35-minute film, which is being screened in over 1,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada, viewers will be compelled to become a part of the story’s end by getting involved with Invisible Children’s Schools for Schools program.
The international organization created the revolutionary fundraising program in 2006 in response to the need for quality schools in northern Uganda – schools that have been destroyed by displacement, rebel occupation and lack of funding due to the 22-year war. Schools for Schools uses an innovative online social community to help students see where their money is going and connect to different projects, fundraising ideas, and supporters. Within its first year, students rallied together and raised over $3 million.
Posted by Jack on 10.15.2008 at 2:55 pm
Today is Blog Action Day! The goal, as their website states is:
“Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.”
So here’s my post:
Here at Better World Books, we see everything through a certain lens, and that lens is dead focused on literacy. If a woman in Africa is literate, she is 50% less likely to contract HIV. 1 in 7 people in the world are illiterate and the majority of these people are women. Over half of the eligible population in Detroit, Michigan doesn’t graduate from high school. The fact is, if you can’t read, you can’t succeed. Literacy is the first step towards sustainability and stepping out of the tangled web of poverty.
Posted by Xavier on 09.30.2008 at 11:33 am
What a night it was! David, Niko and I were privileged to attend Books For Africa’s 20th anniversary gala. We all had especially big smiles on our faces when we saw a chart with the number of books shipped to Africa start skyrocketing in 2003 after being almost flat for 10 years. I wonder what happened in 2003? Well, they hired a dynamic director (Pat Plonski) and partnered with a certain online bookseller. Now they ship 75,000 books PER WEEK.
The momentum was unbelievable – there were two congresspeople in attendance, and an address to the audience recorded by none other than Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the UN.
Better World Books is still easily Books For Africa’s largest source of funding, and we presented them with a $95,000 check just to remind everyone. BWB delivers more funding (and a lot of books!) than they receive from OPEC, USAID, or the Minnesota Vikings, all supporters as well.
So Better World Books, be proud of every day you spend working. As Tom Warth, BFA’s founder says, “the children of Africa thank you”.
Posted by admin on 09.17.2008 at 10:25 am
[Guest post by Maggie Webster, a Phi Theta Kappa Member who just visited our office in Atlanta!]
Hello Phi Theta Kappa!
I just wanted to share a little of a fabulous day I had on Monday, September 15. I was invited to the Better World Books Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. I was able to talk to the staff about what we do at Phi Theta Kappa and they were able to tell me about the process of what they do. They were so excited and asked so many great questions about Phi Theta Kappa. They were really impressed with the levels of leadership throughout the Society as well as the level of involvement.
They also taught me a bit about Better World Books. Did you know that you can research the literacy programs they work with and designate where you’d like your chapter’s donations to go? I didn’t! I also didn’t know that if you reach the goal of 1000 accepted books, you can earn an additional $0.25 on your book for a total of up to $1.25 per book? I didn’t know that Better World Books never throws a book away. The books you collect will never end up in a landfill. In fact, to date 6500 tons have been diverted from landfills! Better World Books is having an Operation Green impact as well!
I hope you’ll keep this great organization in mind for projects this year. After all, Better World Books can help you create a great Honors in Action project — if you relate your book collection to The Paradox of Affluence to help potential donors understand the importance of promoting literacy around the world and also do the research about where you would like your books to go (Scholarship Hallmark), then take the lead to organize the book drive (Leadership Hallmark), and serve the community giving the books and the communities receiving the books and help minimize landfill space needed (Service Hallmark). One Better World Books employee suggested having a “Packing Party” to pack up all the books collected, enhancing the Fellowship Hallmark!
How lucky are we to be able to partner with such amazing groups? They even gave me a t-shirt to wear!
Posted by admin on 09.09.2008 at 4:19 pm
Busy busy today, working on a partnership with Invisible Children that is launching and the Great American Book Drive. [Your] powers combined (said in Captain Planet voice) and you have the world’s biggest book drive! Seriously. More news to come after it’s made.
Posted by admin on 08.29.2008 at 9:59 am
Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a person going back and forth between the surf’s edge and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.
The man was struck by the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached, the person continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.
He came up to the person and said, “You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The person looked at the man. He then stooped down and picked up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said, “It sure made a difference to that one!”
This is the story that inspired the name for David Leiners’ Starfish School (Escola Estrela do Mar for our Portuguese speaking friends) outside of Maceio Brazil. It also serves as the perfect metaphor for what is happening at this remarkable place. While it would be impossible to help every child in this area, the Starfish School sure is making a difference for every child that walks through the door.
Driving through the slums outside of Maceio you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the sheer poverty surrounding you–shacks stacked on top of one another like Legos on the hillside, grown men sitting on the railroad tracks and drinking beer at 1:00 on a Friday afternoon. We stop at what at first glance appears to be a beautiful and majestic bay, but upon further inspection we see that the water is so polluted that you wouldn’t dare dip a toe into the sewage infested water. As we drive back towards the school you wonder how anyone ever makes it out of such a sad place.
You wonder until you set foot inside the Starfish School. It’s a completely different world inside of these walls. There are children laughing and playing and an overwhelming sense of hope and joy fills the air, something totally absent from the world outside.
David tells us stories of the children’s lives outside of school. One child’s father had sold every possession in their home to raise money for drugs, another child had recently come to school without a uniform because that was sold as well. After hearing these stories you truly develop an appreciation for what is taking place at this school. Not only is it a place of learning, but it serves as a sanctuary from the harsh realities of the day to day struggles of just living in a community like this one.
Students must meet several criteria to gain acceptance into the school. They must reside in the area and be from a low income family and home visits are made to confirm these factors. For children to gain admittance to the elementary levels an emphasis is placed on adaptability. This means they must be able to join the program without being a distraction or without slowing the progress of the existing students. There is no tuition to attend the school, however they do ask several things of the parents. They must show up at the school every few months and clean for several hours. They also require the parents to sign a contract, stating that they will be strong supporters of their child’s education. Education cannot be a part time commitment.
Sure, the school is amazing, but why did we visit? Well, it has been with the aid of our friends at Worldfund that this school has been able to thrive. The school was started in a small shack in 2005 and now resides in a beautiful building, walled in and protected from the crime outside. Starting with 27 students the school now has an enrollment of 90. The curriculum at the Starfish Schools aims to provide a complete education, with an emphasis on health and personal development. They also serve nothing but nutritious meals at the school. During our visit I enjoyed what was far and away the tastiest and healthiest school lunch I’ve ever had.
In an area where 11,000 school-age children don’t have access to education, it’s inspiring to visit a place like Escola Estrela do Mar. These children are gaining invaluable tools that will hopefully help them break free from the poverty in which they currently reside. In the years to come, with the continued support of Worldfund, the Starfish School will be able to reach out to even more children, and make a difference in even more lives.
Posted by Yanna on 08.28.2008 at 12:17 pm
In the past few weeks there have been some new developments with the Walk Sudan initiative to send a sea container to Southern Sudan using the Better World Books Fund.
We had two major pickups in late July yielding over 15,000 books! Since that time and due to the positive media coverage Walk Sudan has been able to collect another 2000 books!
Pick up at Newberry Library, Chicago, with Better World Books and Endless Eye
In other news an official letter was sent out to Pacodes (Walk Sudan’s partner) with details of Better World Books participation in the project. The highlights include that Better World Books has committed to front the money for the shipment of all the books to Southern Sudan. This will allow us to begin coordinating the spring shipment with Books for Africa. We look forward to working with Walk Sudan, Endless Eye and PACODES to fill the library in Panyijiar, Southern Sudan.
Have your say » | Tagged Book Reviews, Impact, Impact, Our Partners, walk sudan
Posted by Yanna on 08.22.2008 at 10:26 am
[The following is one of the accounts from Better World Books' trip to Brazil to tour schools with our Latin American literacy partner: Worldfund. Stay tuned for more!]
Women are the teachers, women are the mothers, women share what they know and lead by example. Unfortunately many women in Brazil don’t have the education or skills to support themselves. They turn to prostitution or low paying, obtuse work to support themselves and their families. While Brazil’s economy is booming, the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. As I traveled Brazil visiting schools and community programs with our partner organization Worldfund, I noticed many injustices. What struck me most was the role of women in society.
Bebedour is a community outside the beach town of Maceio. Bebedour is like many Brazilian communities. Homes are run down, unemployment is high, waterways are polluted, streets are littered, and the public education system is deplorable. This particular town has an estimated 115,000 human beings living in it and of those 11,000 are school age children NOT attending school. Bebedour may be a typical Brazilian city, but it has one school that is not typical, it is a progressive school that nourishes not only the student’s minds and bodies, but their hearts.
Bebedour, Brazil – Greater Maceio Area
One of the volunteers at the starfish school said something that really impacted me; he said, “For many of the girls in this neighborhood their dream job is to become a maid in a hotel.” These girls have had few positive female role models in their lives to show them that there is more out there than marriage and bearing children. The starfish school is trying to change this by bringing in female professionals monthly. This is an important program because now these girls have dreams of being educators, doctors, and business professionals. Even at the ripe age of nine, these young girls are seeing a bright future and one of independence.
Starfish School – Greater Maceio Area
Entirely too many of the woman of Brazil depend on men to support them. Too often women are left alone because her husband abandons her or he dies. These women are often unprepared to feed their children and care for their home. Thankfully initiatives like the Mao Amiga Women’s Center are available. On the outskirts of the sprawling city of Sao Paulo, this particular program teaches women skills that can provide income for themselves and their family. Classes include computer skills, baking, cooking, hair styling, and many more. These classes last for one year and the women that complete the program leave with more than knowledge; they leave with a self confidence they didn’t have a year before. They can now go out into their communities and earn a living wage.
Mao Amiga Women’s Center – Greater Sao Paulo Area
Thankfully, educational initiatives are changing in Brazil. The government recently made some changes that will help the failing public school system. Within the last year they have increased teacher’s salaries, and standardized the public school curriculum. The change may be slow coming, but thanks to organizations like Worldfund, there are already exceptional programs in place like the Starfish School and the Mao Amiga Women’s Center. These programs not only educate people’s minds, but provide them with a respect for their bodies and self. Self respect and confidence are the fundamental tools to success. Success breeds success and with more positive women role models, the future of Brazilian women and education is hopeful.
Mao Amiga School – Greater Sao Paulo Area
Posted by admin on 07.29.2008 at 9:51 am
Taken from PJStar.com, apparently we’re doing something good again. You know that we’re really doing the right thing when the so-called evangelist can’t even keep up with all of them!
From PJStar.com -
Many college students have a hard time committing to weekend plans, let alone a pledge to rebuild a community in Sudan.
But recent Illinois Central College graduate Matt Hoffman vowed to make a difference – one book at a time – in the lives of the “Lost Boys.”
Over the past two decades, more than 27,000 boys have escaped villages in southern Sudan during a civil war that has claimed millions of lives. While their parents and sisters were being slaughtered, the young boys banded together for the 1,000-mile walk to refuge.
Though the violence mostly has subsided, the survivors have had little incentive to return to their war-torn villages. But Hoffman and other members of ICC’s honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, want to give the Lost Boys a reason to go home.
The fraternity recently partnered with Chicago media company Endless Eye Productions and national bookseller Better World Books to conceive a plan to build and stock a library in Sudan’s Punyijiar County. Over the past few months, the effort, called “Walk Sudan,” has collected more than 8,000 books, which volunteers loaded onto a truck Thursday to be shipped to Africa.
“We wanted to start with a library because education is a way to empower them,” said Hoffman, adding that most of the Lost Boys have seen no more than three books in their lives. “We want to give them something to come back to.”
Hoffman, who graduated from ICC in May, sat down with friend Sean Fahey from Endless Eye earlier this year to devise a plan about how to help Fahey’s friend, Justin Machien Luoi, a Lost Boy who was educated in the United States as a refugee.
After just an evening of brainstorming, the two set out to raise awareness and money to rebuild part of Luoi’s country. Nearly 50 members of Phi Theta Kappa began speaking at area schools and churches during the spring semester, asking for monetary donations as well as books. They also sponsored a 3-mile walk from Bradley University to the Peoria riverfront in May to raise awareness about their campaign and to simulate the trek the Lost Boys made to refuge.
While Hoffman has remained involved in the effort, his graduation from ICC and move to Loyola University in Chicago required him to pass on the reins to new Phi Theta Kappa president Thomas Aguilar, who is just as devoted to the cause.
Aguilar was covered in sweat Thursday, as he and other volunteers loaded the hundreds of boxes of books onto a truck. Better World Books also is donating texts and shipping the first batch to Sudan shortly, as construction of the library is scheduled to begin within the next few months. Endless Eye will follow along to capture the effort in a documentary called “A Library for Panyijiar.”
Walk Sudan has promised the library is just the beginning of the effort to rebuild the African community over the next 20 years. A school will follow, Aguilar said, then a water treatment plant. The project has no limit.
“This is our way of showing that Peoria can make a difference for people on the other side of the world,” he said.
2 Comments » | Tagged Impact, Our Partners, africa, better world books, Illinois, Impact, Our Partners, peoria, pjstar, press, walk sudan
Posted by admin on 06.13.2008 at 12:09 pm
In honor of the coming Father’s Day, we asked our newest dad, CTO Andy Warzon how he was preparing to involve books in the raising of the newest member of the Warzon clan.
Our baby room, weeks before my wife is due, is full of books already… old ones, new ones, little infant books, grade-school level educational books… we’ll never be short of reading material. I can’t wait to show our baby all the great books I read as kid, the ones that informed and excited me about the world, and the ones that stretched my imagination. [ed. note: Andy's wife just had the baby! Congrats!]
The dad with the most experience (having raised his own children as well as Kreece, Xavier and Jeff when the company started), CEO David Murphy weighed in at the NCFL blog with the following:
Father’s Day is Sunday, and each year around this time I tend to look back to when my children were young. As the father of three fantastic children, I so clearly and vividly recall many moments curled up with my children reading to them, at all times of day and night…on the kitchen floor, in their forts, on old sofas and beat up bean bags, in bed and in the car.
Few moments in life can compare to the wonders of opening up the new world of language and communication and wonder and awe to your child. From those first moments of seeing and understanding new words, to now their collective love for ‘devouring a book’ — they possess the tools they need to be independent and to help them discover who they are and what they are destined to become in this world.
So, Happy Father’s Day all. I took the time to send my own father “The Economics of Happiness” and “Go Green, Live Rich” to help his quest (to change his own life from NYC finance type to NYC finance type with a smaller carbon footprint). One of the most important things he taught me was to educate myself to do the things I wanted to do, so I’m hoping I can help him do the same or at least convey that his message to me stuck.
Have your say » | Tagged Our Partners, andy warzon, david murphy, father's day, NCFL, Our Partners
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