Literacy Bridge, a non-profit organization that provides children and adults with tools for knowledge sharing and literacy learning, today announced the receipt of its second $25,000 grant award from Amazon.com. The grant will be used to expand its successful Talking Book program in rural areas of Ghana and throughout other developing countries.
“Literacy Bridge is demonstrating how technology can make a substantial difference for rural people living in poverty,” said Jon Fine, director of Author & Publisher Relations for Amazon.com. “Talking Books are helping children and adults to improve their literacy skills, and enabling subsistence farmers to increase crop production. Amazon.com is pleased to help support such a dynamic project that has the potential to positively impact so many people.”
The Talking Book is an innovative audio computer designed to improve the health and income of people in rural areas who cannot read, or live without electricity. The low-cost audio computers enable rapid device-to-device content distribution within and between remote communities. They also help learners improve their reading skills through a variety of pronunciation, vocabulary-building and reading-comprehension activities.
Literacy Bridge has been field-testing its Talking Books since January 2009 with two primary groups of end-users: 1) subsistence farmers who lack information necessary to maximize crop production, and 2) children and illiterate adults who need help improving their reading skills. These two groups make up the majority of people living in rural communities across Ghana, and include well over 1 billion people globally.
Literacy Bridge’s Talking Book program has also garnered special recognition from the Microsoft Alumni Foundation. Cliff Schmidt, Literacy Bridge’s executive director, has been selected as one of five 2010 Integral Fellows Award finalists. The Integral Fellows Awards Program recognizes Microsoft alumni who have dedicated their lives to creating something extraordinary to help address challenges around the world, and Mr. Schmidt was selected from thousands of alumni doing philanthropic work globally.
Award winners will be recognized by Bill and Melinda Gates at the Microsoft Alumni Foundation Celebration on November 18, 2010, in Seattle, WA. Winners will each receive a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Evaluation of the finalists is based on several criteria, including: innovation, entrepreneurship, effectiveness, collaboration, integrity, the ability to create something extraordinary out of limited resources, scalability and several additional factors. Projects will be evaluated by a panel of judges, including:
• Tom Brokaw, journalist and author
• Bill Drayton, chair and CEO, Ashoka
• William H. Gates Sr., co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
• Pierre Omidyar, founding partner, Omidyar Network, and founder and chairman, eBay Inc.
• Judith Rodin, president, Rockefeller Foundation
• Thomas J. Tierney, chairman and co-founder, Bridgespan Group
“We are thrilled at the recognition Literacy Bridge has received from both Amazon.com and the Microsoft Alumni Foundation,” said Cliff Schmidt, executive director of Literacy Bridge. “The results we have seen from our Talking Book program are extremely encouraging. Amazon.com’s grant will help us expand our efforts into new communities, and I am deeply honored to be a finalist in Microsoft’s Integral Fellows Award program.”