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Books For Africa, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Education, International, International Development, International, Foreign Affairs & National Security

Mission: Books For Africa was founded in 1988 by Tom Warth, a Minnesota publisher whose dream was to ship donated books to the children of Africa. Warth's visit to a Ugandan library, where books were almost non-existent, inspired him to create a system for collecting discarded books from American schools, libraries and publishers to send to Africa. Books For Africa remains the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent, shipping over 28 million books to 49 different countries since 1988. Over the past 12 months BFA has shipped 2.2 million books valued at $28.3 million to 22 African countries, with an additional 616 computers and 15 brand new law libraries.

Results: 2013 marks BFA's 25 Anniversary! We are celebrating the 28 million books shipped to 49 African countries thus far, and re-committing our efforts to send even more quality books in the years to come.

Target demographics: African schools and libraries that do not have sufficient books to support learning and recreational reading.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Each container shipped supplies enough books for ten school libraries. BFA ships about 2 containers every week!

Geographic areas served: all of Africa

Programs: Books for africa sent 208 shipments of approximately 2,400,000 books with an estimated value of $33,100,000 to 20 african countires. Books for africa receives funds for the shipment of books to africa, and this is the organization's only program. Additionally, books for africa allows donors to target donations to specific countries and provides feedback to donor when books have been shipped to their countries. 99% of total expenses are spent on program related expenses.

Community Stories

22 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Thomas58

Board Member

Rating: 5

As the Founder I am extremely proud of the work accomplished

Donor

Rating: 5

Books for Africa is an amazing non-profit all the way around. They have a great team, they do great work, they are committed to real and sustainable change, and they are absolutely dedicated to making this world a better place. In addition to their tremendous mission, values, and results, they are also incredibly effective from a financial standpoint, as they make sure the most of every dollar donated actually makes it to the people and projects they are working to help. Great jobs BFA! Please keep up the amazing work!

Review from Guidestar

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was introduced to Books For Africa by Anne Hussian who was working with Books For Africa on a project. She had listened to my speech about my work rehabilitating victims of human trafficking at the University of Minnesota during my Hubert Humphrey Fellowship. She generously reached out to support my cause and introduced me to the amazingly friendly staff of Books for Africa. What struck me most was the Passion and dedicated efforts of the staff and Board members towards their work-Ending the Book Famine in Africa! There is no bureaucracy in making requests for books and when I expressed the need for books for the education/rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking in Uganda, they supported my cause including helping me with organizing a fundraiser for their shipment. For instance, Carole Patrikakos the manager of corporate relations and grants provided a lot of support in coordination and preparation of the fundraiser and Board member Henry Bromelkamp generously offered and matched any donations of $100 and over towards the shipment of a container of 22,000 books until it is fully fundraised! Am equally appreciative that Books For Africa gives me the freedom to choose the books relevant to the needs and educational environment of the recipients. They also facilitate/ help with networking the people they serve to collaborate in various ways towards common goals. Books For Africa is a true friend of Africa!

1 Madeline J.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

BFA is an organization that is proud of it's Minnesota roots, but maintains a global outlook. BFA has not only done incredible work in the countries it delivers books to in Africa, but it also brings more cultural awareness to the greater Twin Cities area.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Donor

Rating: 4

While an undergraduate student I would often donate books that I no longer needed to Books for Africa. I believe strongly that the charity does a fantastic job of taking unused resources here in the US and making them go the extra mile for those who will undoubtedly benefit from it abroad. What an amazing and creative use of an available resource. I highly suggest others to involve themselves in this project!

Review from CharityNavigator

Jill35

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Books For Africa is a brilliantly run organization. They have a clear mission: build literacy in Africa by shipping books to them. A solvable problem, a simple solution, and they do it well. Because they have been perfecting their practice, they now ship huge numbers of books amid the corruption and other obstacles similar organizations face. They are experts in their field, and because of that they are constantly increasing the number of books they are shipping while also expanding into new areas such as sending computers, working here within the local community, or gaining important feedback about how the books are being used. All of this growth while maintaining a miniscule staff of passionate, dedicated humans. My personal opinion is that this is just the start for BFA, and that they will continue to grow and expand their benefits for many years to come. The staff is incredibly uplifting and passionate, I absolutely adore being a part of the work they are doing.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am an Ethiopian immigrant who live and work in minneapolis, Minnesota. I always have a dream to help the people of Ethiopia whom I left behind. Now, with the help of Book Africa that dream is close to become a reality. Book for Africa accepted my project for Ethiopia which is opening a family library and parente ducation program and is helping in fund raising. They also promised a container of books, which is around twenty two thousend books. I am always greatful for their work and help. And I am confident that with the help of their supporter my project will be come a reality very soon.

Review from CharityNavigator

Brianne R.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Books for Africa is an attempt to provide access to tools necessary to spread and achieve literacy. This organization takes books in full crates across seas to create a full, complete library available to the community. Its efforts are widespread and non-discriminatory. Not only are Books for Africa's efforts noteworthy, but the means of achieving them are distinctive; groups nation-wide-- from private individuals to college campuses-- donate books which are then used to create the library. This approach allows a wide variety of people to be involved. Books for Africa create a sense of community, a positive green effect (Less books in landfills--what a waste that would be!) and a positive effect on the world as a whole.

Donor

Rating: 5

Hello! Books for Africa is an incredibly impressive organization! The concept is simple--send books to poeple who do not have any. My background is in teaching and this thrills my heart. The low-overhead, small no. of paid employees, and wise use of resources all allow the hard work put forth by BFA to achieve its goals. This speaks to ethics in my view. BFA is organized and genuine in its values of serving the underserved. Education is the base for moving forward in life, and this begins with literacy. The faces of children receiving their BFA books, in photographs, says it all. I have begun giving donation-gifts to BFA to friends and families; this has become a favorite gift form. KUDOS and GRATITUDE to BFA!-----Sincerely, Paula Zenker (St. Paul, MN)

Donor

Rating: 4

I am a teacher who taught two years in a seminary, Peramiho, Tanzania. When I would visit one of the primary schools in the neighborhood, I was always sadened to see a library of perhaps fifteen or twenty books and the one hundred or so students so eager to read. I am happy to have found BFA so that I could reach out to some of those children.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Books for Africa has allowed very scattered individuals and groups in the U.S. to send back more than 80,000 books to rebuild destroyed libraries in Sierra Leone. We are scheduled to send more than 100,000 books back in 2013 as well. This has helped to create literacy and scholarship in a country ravaged by civil war. It is a truly outstanding organization making a real difference in the world.

Review from CharityNavigator

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am Director of Development and International Partnerships for Fair Children Youth Foundation in Rwanda. We now have three schools and more than 1,000 pupils in FCYF: Wisdom Nursery and Primary Schools and a Deaf Children's School serve our beloved children in Musanze District. Our region was devastated for over a decade by civil war and genocide, and one of our early tasks when peace was restored was to build and open schools for some of the thousands of children who had been unable to receive ta basic education. We were so excited when a former international volunteer at our foundation who now works for Books for Africa asked if we would be interested to receive books and create a library for our schools. BFA allowed us to select what type and level of books our children needed. They kept us informed at every step of the delivery process, and even arranged for us to welcome in Musanze the wonderful person who sponsored the shipment to us. The books have now arrived and are all in very good condition. We will take care to ensure that they are kept carefully and will serve our children for many years to come. Our pupils are so eager to learn and this wonderful donation is surely a life changer for the children of Musanze. We now hear that more books will be coming our way next year. BFA is an amazing organization and we are grateful to them and all who come together through their excellent coordination and make it possible for our children to receive the learning they need and deserve. We hope in time to come to set up reading classes and make our library more widely available to the many youth and young adults who have missed out on primary education and yet are eager to become literate. Thank you BFA!

kelseyg

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer coordinating several library projects in rural communities throughout South Africa - when looking for sources of donated books, word of mouth among other volunteers recommended BFA. Working with Books for Africa to distribute a shipment of 22,000 books to rural communities has been wonderful. I have been impressed by their professionalism and helpfulness throughout the process. They make the often-complex process of receiving books very clear for communities and folks in the field. The books donated to BFA are stocking libraries in impoverished areas where kids are really thirsty for reading materials - they're making an incredible difference.

Review from CharityNavigator

Client Served

Rating: 5

I received books from Books for Africa while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa. The BFA staff was really great and helped us to organize the shipment of the books. We were then able to open thirty libraries throughout South Africa in schools that were invested in the project. BFA books are now read by 30,000 students in our schools each year. Without BFA, this project would not have been possible. Thank you for all of your great work!

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 5

After my son died, I never thought that I would experience joy again. A former board member of Books for Africa, my friend Pam, told me stories of the amazing resilience and joy of the Rwandan people. I started reading books written by Rwandan genocide survivors and through their written stories, began to understand in a deeper way the human ability to survive, thrive and find joy again. I decided to work with Pam to send books to Rwanda. The country had just changed its official language from French to English, so the timing was perfect. I visited the library sites and fell in love with the people and the country, so we are using my son's college fund to send more books! I was particularly impressed with the way Books for Africa works with other groups to make a difference. Two of the libraries we sent were Law libraries. Only 49 lawyers were left alive in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide and there were few books. The Law and Democracy Initiative through BFA and Thompson Reuters provided complete, new, specifically designed law libraries to Rwanda Law Schools.

Review from CharityNavigator

Jane Ferguson

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was introduced to Books For Africa through my daughter and a friend who also mentioned her volunteer experience. When I arrived, the staff members gave a thorough orientation to us volunteers, and proceeded to be most helpful and engaging throughout my time there. Since all the materials are donated, they explained, there are certain types of books that need to be recycled into boxes. Not everything will be appropriate or relevant to send to Africa. Imagine rural African schoolchildren reading about The Civil War or The South Beach Diet; not helpful at all in their quest for education! It is the volunteers' and staff members' job to process through an enormous amount of books and recycle materials that don't translate well to African culture. Then the books are meticulously sorted into subjects so that they can be efficiently packed when an order comes on. As an educator, I found working at this charity to be enormously satisfying, spreading literacy as a bridge out of poverty. Most people in America have access to books, either through free public libraries, or through public schools. In Africa, as BFA's website demonstrates, these privileges are basically nonexistent. Spreading literacy is Books For Africa's mission and they perform their tasks with efficiency, cheerfulness, and optimism. I'm definitely going back to help out!

Review from CharityNavigator

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Books for Africa's mission is so simple--end the book famine in Africa. What the organization does is so straightforward--gather up gently used books, sort them by subject and grade level and ship them by container load to waiting hands in African countries. As a donor, I'm pleased that BFA has consistently high ratings for using funds very efficiently and keeps staff and overhead minimal. I've been to Tanzania with Books for Africa and seen the village schools with no electricity, no running water and one book shared by ten students. The children have so much less than even our poorest schools here, yet they seem hungry to learn. It's not so difficult to get books into their hands. Since the books are donated and volunteers sort and pack them, the main cost is shipping the container to an African port. It costs about $10,000 to send a container holding about 30,000. I like knowing that my monthly donations help make that possible. Imagine the impact of just one container on the life of a community and the future of those children!

Review from CharityNavigator

Asratie T.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am writing this letter in support of Books for Africa, a MN Based Charitable Education
organization, that I have come to know and support since 1999.
I have been and still is a strong supporter of Books for Africa because I relate to the circumstances
of the millions of children that Books for Africa is reaching out in Africa.
The day I discovered the existence of Books for Africa was one of my dreams come true. It is
not an exaggeration and here is why?
I was born in a rural village in a one room grass covered hut that we shared with the farm and
domestic animals at one corner, and an open fire place at the center of the room. A raised bunker
bed made of local materials is hanging little over the shoulders of the farm animals, and a
flickering lamp fueled by of animal fat or wax at one corner. That was the setting of the rural
house hold in Ethiopia in the village I was born. That setting is still true to over 50% Sub-
Saharan Africa and the continent in general in those countries lacking economic development.
I will be turning 50 years next week, and to date there is no electricity and running water
in the village I was born. It is very remote that modern amenities are years away. So how did
I get here from that environment against all odds?
The story is long but briefly…When I was two years old my maternal grandmother decided it
was time for her daughter to be in the city and without much publicity she scooped me and my
mom, and I ended up leaving in a larger town where schooling was available, and I went to a
Catholic pre-school followed by elementary and secondary public school education. From there
I maximized the opportunity to further my education and have had a successful career in Ethiopia.
I have a successful career here in the US as well, and currently I am pursuing a PhD on
Leadership and Organizational Change. All this has become possible because I was given an
opportunity to read and write. That is what Books for Africa is doing for millions of African
Children.
Over the years, I was part of Books for Africa witnessing its growth. For instance Ethiopia had
received only 12 containers of books in 1999. As of budget year 2011, Ethiopia received 175
sea containers of books and a total of 3.85 million books to date. Can you imagine how many
Asratie’ are born out of the opportunity to read and write that these books provided?
I am convinced that no international organization has done to educate the African children that
can compete with Books for Africa, and that is why I remain its permanent volunteer and supporter,
and gives it the highest praise and recognition. I hope you do too.
Sincerely,
Asratie Teferra
Chair, Ethiopian African 2000 Millennium Group
3924 Oliver St, Hyattsville, MD 20782
P.301-277-3950 C.630-802-5901
Www.ethiopiannewyear.com

1

Volunteer

Rating: 1

The absolute worse volunteer experience I have ever had. How about books for Atlanta? How about gay and lesbian exploration is OK but anything American related is sent to the recycle bin as Americans volunteer that time to support this non profit. Never again.

Comments ( 1 )

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carole7 11/07/2012

It is unfortunate that Mr. Thomas felt bitter after his experience sorting donated books for use in Africa. BFA requests books that fit into an African school curriculum, such as core subject areas and current reference books, as well as reading books that a person can choose to read in a school or community library. BFA volunteers sort the books for condition and culturally appropriate content before boxing for shipment. A book about American government, Thanksgiving, or North American geography is neither useful in an African classroomn nor culturally appropriate to an African student. Books not boxed for shipment are recycled. There are certainly avenues for donating books that will be useful in the United States. I recommend the ALA reference: http://www.ala.org/tools/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet12. Please refer to the BFA website if you would like more information about the types of books collected and shipped to Africa. Sincerely, Carole Patrikakos, Manager of Corporate Relations & Grants, Books For Africa

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Kekeli Christianson and I have been interning with Books For Africa. I love working with the staff members and being a part of this organization that provides books for children in Africa, is really inspiring and I am very grateful to have participated in such endeavor. Coming from Togo(West Africa) Myself I understand how hard it is for students to aquire texbooks. I remember I used to get copies of entire books from previous students and many times books are passed down from siblings. Having such an organization like Books For Africa providing the essential tools for education to african children is surely extraordinary. There are many ways to help Books For Africa in their endeavors. I myself have conducted a book drive and collected texbooks from college students and also volunteered at the Books For Africa warehouse sorting and packaging books for the next shipping. So ask yourself what can I do to help?