Friday, April 13, 2007

Route 66 Meeting

We recently had a meeting in Silicon Valley to celebrate the progress we're making with the Route 66 Literacy program. Gerry Davis, who is one of our board members was there and took some pictures, and I thought I'd blog them and share the moments.
Karen Erickson and another woman looking at a computer screen
The main reason for the meeting was that Professor Karen Erickson was in town. Karen is the innovator behind Route 66, and it was a chance to have Karen speak to us and some of the key donors who made Route 66 possible. She heads the Center of Literacy and Disability Studies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dave and Sharon Severns in front of a PC
Two local Silicon Valley foundations were especially noteworthy for supporting Route 66 at its earliest stages. The Severns Family Foundation and Special Hope Foundation both were enthusiastic about Route 66 and willing to take the risk that this effort would lead to a real effort to advance reading for people with developmental disabilities. Dave and Sharon Severns attended: the Severns family helped take Route 66 (before it even had a name) and encouraged us to take it forward.

And of course, we have some major funders who support Benetech and provide us with risk capital that we can use to advance projects, such as Skoll and Omidyar. Johnny Falla and Ruth Norris of Skoll joined us at the event.

We were able to show the latest version of the Route 66 demonstration site, which is now fully functional for trial use. Over the next few months, we'll be adding user sign-up functions, getting ready for the day when we start collecting revenue from users.

Lynne and John O'Hara seated at a PC, Jim Fruchterman standing behind

We were hosted by Gay Krause who heads the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College, where we were able to take advantage of a great facility with plenty of computers for the people who wanted to try out Route 66 and ask questions of the woman behind the technology and content. Here I am looking over the shoulder of Lynne and John O'Hara of the Special Hope Foundation.

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