Can one song change a life? Yes, it can! I have even seen a single song change a nation. Number one selling Indie rock band, Dispatch, galvanized hundreds of thousands of youth across the world to raise awareness about the injustices in Zimbabwe though their song “Elias.” (Performed below at their Dispatch:Zimbabwe benefit concert at Madison Square Garden in July 2007 with the African Children’s Choir).

“Elias” also personally changed my life. Thanks to the creative community work I led at the University of Virginia, Dispatch asked me to work with them that summer. The people I met around New England the summer after graduating have made a lasting positive impact on my life. Through Dispatch that summer, I met the African Children’s Choir and later produced a documentary on them for CNN, launching my career and achieving my dreams. I also befriended a filmmaker who I later collaborated with on “Rescued” after the devastating earth quake in Haiti.

Thanks to one band and one song, there are hundreds of thousands of young people out there just like me who have decided that we can make this world a better place. That vision is what brought me to Better World Books. Just like a song, I’ve learned, one book can make a world of difference in the life of a person, a country and our whole universe!

Dispatch is at it again! This time, raising awareness and funding for education in America. Their campaign “Amplifying Education” is a multi-platform program that will put new teachers in schools, improve school facilities, provide books and supplies to students and provoke discussion about education in the United States. Not only will a portion of every ticket sold on Dispatch’s Summer 2011 Tour will go to sponsor multiple Teach for America corps members in each market and a founding City Year Denver team during the 2011-2012 school year, we have also teamed up with the band to collect pre-loved books in a massive book drive at every show!

By selling the donated books online, we generate cash funds for important literacy projects. Dispatch fans are being encouraged to round up one or more gently used books (think books you would give to a friend) and bring them to the yellow school bus parked in front of the venue each night. Better World Books will sell the books online, contributing a portion of all revenue to support Amplifying Education’s end-of-tour donations to help restock the New Orleans Public Libraries.

“The Friends of the New Orleans Public Library would like to thank Dispatch and Better World Books for all they have done to raise literacy awareness and promote volunteerism throughout the world. This year New Orleans Public Library’s Summer Reading Program is expected to surpass pre-Katrina numbers. It is due largely in part to the generosity of these organizations that the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library are able to provide literacy services, books and programs to a community that continues to rebuild itself,” says Katelyn Ramsey Castleberry, Exectuve Director of The Friends of the New Orleans Public Library.

Check our our first shipment of empty book boxes for the band. This first weekend of shows, fans collected over 800 books in 19 full boxes!

An Education Village will be set up in each venue on every night of the Dispatch tour to highlight the work of leading organizations working in the field of education. By learning more about specific ways they can volunteer in their own community, Dispatch fans will be encouraged to stay involved long after the tour has moved on.

Throughout the Amplifying Education campaign, Dispatch will offer free music downloads from its 2009 Kennedy Center performance as a “thank you” for taking action. Fans will receive 5 songs for signing up at, 5 songs for taking an online action for education, and 5 songs for taking a local action for education on the Dispatch tour. Helping others has never sounded so good!

Check out these photos from Dispatch’s first shows at Red Rocks in Colorado this weekend.

Photo Credit: Steve J. Rosenfield

What song or book has changed you life? Tell us how below…


  1. Pingback: Dispatch Summer Tour 2011- Fundraising for Education

  2. Charlie Gardner says:

    “The BFG” by Roald Dahl. Before I read this book in the sixth grade, I absolutely hated reading. My fifth grade book reports were the worst things I ever had to do, and I used to take short cuts to get around doing them. But then my teacher instituted DEAR (drop everything and read) time in 6th grade, and she recommended “The BFG.” It was like watching a movie in my head while reading, and as soon as I finished it, I picked up another book by Dahl, then another. When I finished all of his, I picked up other books and was hooked on reading. In high school, my one honors class was English and had incredible teachers during my four years. When I went on to college, I majored in Great Books, and had my mind stretched and tested by reading the classics of the Western Tradition. I am now thinking about becoming and English and Religion teacher. I can trace it all back to reading “The BFG”, and I know if I did not read this book my life would have been quite different.

  3. Great article!

    The Life of Abraham Lincoln changed my life.

  4. Sarah Rae says:

    What a fabulous post about an amazing song and story! Great job Erin!

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