Showing posts from December, 2013

From all of us at Benetech...

Dear Friends of Benetech, As we wrap up another busy year, full of milestones and exciting accomplishments , we’d like to take a moment to simply say thank you. Whether you've volunteered your time, made a financial contribution, attended one of our events, or helped to spread the word about the work we’re doing – thank you! We couldn’t do it without your support. We hope you’ll join us as we continue to explore the next big ideas and make 2014 an even more successful year! Wishing you a happy holiday season, Jim Fruchterman Founder and CEO

UC Santa Cruz Students Volunteering for Impact with Bookshare

I’m delighted to share with you today a wonderful success story from our Volunteer Program . UC Santa Cruz students who participated in our volunteer pilot project— proofreading textbooks for our Bookshare collection—have done a fantastic job proofreading over a short period of time three entire textbooks! This means more than 2,300 pages of text and an amazing gift for the 250,000+ Bookshare student members we serve. Our Volunteer Program Manager Brenda Hendricksen and Volunteer Program Coordinator Madeleine Linares have been working on this pilot project with UC Santa Cruz Professor of Computer Engineering Roberto Manduchi . Professor Manduchi, whose research focuses on assistive technology for persons with visual impairments, is an old friend of mine. Several months ago, he approached me and offered to involve his entire class in proofreading Bookshare textbooks. I’m delighted this idea has turned into a successful project with such a splendid outcome! A group of over 40 of R

Nonprofit Advocacy Can Be a Force Multiplier for Social Change

This post originally appeared on Arabella Advisors' Greater Good blog as part of the series Impact 2014 . For many years, people frequently suggested that Benetech , the nonprofit tech company I founded and lead, get more involved in Washington, DC policy and legislative action. “Isn’t that where good ideas go to die?” I’d say, dodging the recommendations. Our longest-term donor, the Skoll Foundation , went so far as to introduce me to a DC-based advocacy firm. My reaction was that this kind of advocacy work was a luxury we couldn’t afford. I was wrong. You see, several months later, the federal Department of Education challenged us to compete against a well-respected national nonprofit 60 times our size in a bid to provide accessible educational materials for US students who are blind, dyslexic, or otherwise print disabled. Against all odds, we—a novice bidder with a less than $1 million-a-year program—won a five-year, $32.5 million contract to do just that. We were elate