While in college learning to make smart bombs, Jim Fruchterman thought of using technology for a positive social purpose: applying character recognition to reading. This simple idea became a reality when he founded Arkenstone, a leading nonprofit organization providing adaptive technology for people with disabilities. It became the largest maker of reading machines for people with disabilities. The concept of technology to address social problems is the basis of Benetech’s work today. In 2000, with proceeds from the sale of Arkenstone, Jim founded Benetech to create a platform for launching new enterprises.
IMPACT AS OF JUNE 2013:
- Programs that Benetech operates include the Bookshare library, DIAGRAM, Route 66 Literacy, the Martus software project, and SocialCoding4Good.
- Benetech’s Bookshare program delivered over 704,000 book downloads to more than 250,000 members with print disabilities from its library of 197,000 titles. Bookshare helps them to succeed in school, employment, civic engagement and beyond.
- They partner with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to support their efforts documenting human rights abuses, including in Colombia, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Burma and India. The Martus database software was downloaded in over 120 countries, and over 150,000 Martus bulletins documenting human rights violations have been backed up by users to Martus servers. This contributes to new policy debates and helps bring perpetrators to justice.
- Miradi, a project management software tool, helps conservationists design, develop, monitor and learn from their projects to more effectively meet their goals. Miradi is used by over 3,000 people in more than 100 countries to improve conservation projects.
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