At a time when many organizations are facing financial challenges, Benetech® is growing thanks to the commitment of our supporters and the success of our enterprises. We'll be expanding by 25% in 2009, with a planned budget of over $10 million. The pressing needs of the communities we serve make it more important than ever for us to fill the gaps where business and government can't or won't go with new technology solutions. Benetech's projects are all about making the greatest impact with the resources available. Our technology supports efficient management of conservation projects by environmental groups, transforms data into powerful knowledge for human rights organizations, and delivers far more quality accessible books, far more cheaply, to far more people with disabilities worldwide.
We look forward to developing our Raising the Floor initiative in the coming year with our supporters and partners. Together we can create a world where everyone has access to the technology and information they need to succeed. 2009 promises to be another great year for the Benetech community!
Miradi - Expanding Throughout the World
We are pleased to report that after three years of development, Miradi, our conservation project management software tool, is now used by more than 600 field conservation professionals in over 50 countries worldwide. I've also learned that Miradi is being used by foundations to help plan giving programs in conservation: an exciting new application!
I recently attended an exciting conference in Vancouver, Canada, ConEx, the Conservation Learning Exchange. The event was organized by one of our partners, The Nature Conservancy, and included staffers from many other leading environmental groups. I met a number of enthusiastic Miradi users who told me that the application helped them better manage their projects. These conservation professionals also expressed a strong desire to not "go it alone" but to instead learn from one another's successes and avoid duplicating past mistakes. Collaboration is a key principle in Miradi's design - allowing practitioners to share information and efficiently leverage knowledge in their communities. Collaborative conservation practices are needed if we are to find timely solutions to our global environmental challenges. In the search for solutions, we expect Miradi to become a standard component of the IT toolkit for conservationists worldwide.
The next phase of Miradi's development and deployment to conservationists around the world is being funded by a $1 million challenge grant from the Moore Foundation. Over the next two and a half years, Benetech will be raising an additional $1 million each from Miradi users and philanthropic donations to support further outreach to field practitioners. We are excited about the challenge and what we can accomplish through this additional support!
Human Rights Program - Changing the Field of Human Rights
Our Human Rights Program (HRP) has received renewed core funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Oak Foundation. In the coming year, we are renewing our focus in Burma, Colombia and Guatemala and reaching out to deepen relationships with new partners in Lebanon, India and Sri Lanka, among others.
Our project with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in Liberia has made tremendous progress over the past year. Led by HRP program manager Kristen Cibelli (pictured here in Monrovia), we are working with TRC analysts to integrate our analysis of thousands of statements taken from victims of human rights abuses into the commission's final report, due in 2009.
The Liberia project is a great example of the type of partnerships and projects that the HRP team undertakes. The Liberia TRC brings deep local knowledge to the project, access to data sources and policy-relevant hypotheses. Benetech's HRP provides experience generated by our work with eight previous truth commissions, continually evolving technology, scientific expertise, and a process for transforming information into knowledge. The resulting scientifically defensible knowledge can be used to establish a clear historical record for Liberians and help end impunity for the perpetrators.
Bookshare Completely Rebuilt and Continuing to Grow!
This has been a transformative year for the Bookshare community. We have had an overwhelming response to our Bookshare for Education program that got underway in October 2007 through the generous support of the U.S. Department of Education. More than 33,000 students with print disabilities are registered to use the Bookshare library that now hosts over 42,000 titles. We recently launched our fresh new look and streamlined interface at www.bookshare.org. The Bookshare team is well on our way to its goal of serving over 100,000 students with more than 100,000 new educational titles by 2012.
In addition to growing Bookshare in the U.S., we have expanded our services worldwide thanks to the generous support of the Bernard A. Newcomb Fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. We have three new partnerships in India to help us serve the ten million blind people there, three million of whom are children. Thanks to the support of the Lavelle Fund for the Blind, we are working with the Tamil Nadu, India-based Worth Trust to employ people with physical disabilities who scan and proofread books. So far, this team has added more than 1000 books to the Bookshare collection. I look forward to reporting on many more partnerships in other countries as we continue to build the Bookshare library to serve everybody in the world who needs accessible books.
2008 has been a year of significant expansion for Benetech - we grew our programs and our staff and made an even greater impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people. As we head into our 20th year, we're setting our sights even higher with the Raising the Floor initiative. As always, our success is made possible through the commitment of our supporters. If you'd like to get more involved - through a brainstorming session, partnership or donation - please get in touch with me. Our team is eager to realize our ambitious plans and I look forward to sharing our accomplishments with you in the coming months.