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Showing posts from December, 2010

Bookshare Creates Opportunities For Gifted Students

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I talk a lot about how technology can help create tremendous educational opportunities for students with print disabilities. As part of my holiday greetings this year, I would like to introduce you to two young people who have used Benetech’s Bookshare library to reach academic excellence and find the books that keep them engaged in their off hours. Steffon Middleton and Jessica Pinto have both mastered the art of searching and downloading Bookshare’s accessible texts. Steffon, who attends Gadsden Community College in Gadsden, Alabama is a straight-A student who has made his college deans list each semester. He downloads Bookshare texts to a portable device called a BrailleNote that allows blind people like him to read digital Braille. Two years ago, Steffon worked with us to create a Bookshare how-to video and a video profile which also features his teacher Jill Dunaway who helped him become a Bookshare member.

Because the Bookshare collection is free to qualified U.S. students, Ste…

Happy Holidays from Bookshare!

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I liked what our Bookshare team did for their electronic holiday card!

Benetech Human Rights Data Analysts Uncover Critical Evidence

As the worldwide debate continues about the release of government information by Wikileaks, history has shown that the uncovering of government data can be an important factor in human rights investigations. In 2010, Benetech’s Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) examined once hidden government documents from Guatemala and Chad that provided key evidence needed to hold former national leaders and security forces accountable for human rights violations. HRDAG analysis of this information was carried out with the support of the current governments and NGO communities in both these countries.

Discovered by chance, these police and prison records told the stories of serious human rights violations from the perspective of the perpetrators. They revealed the culpability of powerful people who never expected that these records would ever be exposed to public scrutiny - let alone scientific analysis. The past year of research by HRDAG analysts has supported key criminal prosecutions and u…

Breakthrough Philanthropy - Thiel Foundation event

I've been asked by a lot of people both inside and outside Benetech lately to not only talk about the what we do, but the why we do it: the thinking behind it. I met with a very senior nonprofit leader last week in New York who explicitly asked us to talk more about what we're thinking. So, I hope to have more Beneblogs that give a window onto our thought processes (even when raw and not quite baked)! So, after I do my readout on what happened, I'll try to inject the way it got me thinking at the end of this post.

Last night I had the privilege of attending the Breakthough Philanthropy event put on by Peter Thiel's foundation, covered in the local press with articles like "Silicon Valley billionaire backs futuristic philanthropy" from the San Jose Mercury News.

The foundation spotlighted eight unusual nonprofit groups. I knew of a fair number of the groups already. The Santa Fe Institute is probably the best known: a research institute dedicated to study…