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Collaborative Philanthropy: Deepen Your Commitment to Bring Social Change to Low-Income Urban Neighborhoods and Rural Communities

By Marcy Guttman, Summer Associate for Corporate Philanthropy

Wisdom can often come from unexpected places.  I remember a message that I read when traveling in the New York City subways: “kindness is contagious, and it begins with you.”  Huddled in the crowded masses of people, holding on to bars and handles touched by thousands of other travelers, I generally tried to avoid “catching” anything.  However, reading those seven words made me realize that kindness is something that I not only wanted to “catch” but also desired to pass on to others.

The gratification of doing something kind for another consistently feels good and inspires others to continue the momentum.  “Meeting” the Bookshare community has shown me the strength of this sentiment.  The warmth, dedication, and willingness to share of staff, volunteers, and members are palpable in all exchanges.  When I started to think about why this is the case, I realized the answer was very clear: Bookshare is a community that cares; Bookshare is a community that gives.

When a student in Los Angeles requests a Blood + book, Bookshare delivers the entire four-book series.  When law students at Georgetown need accessible textbooks, Bookshare becomes a partner in making the books available.  Bookshare volunteers contribute on a daily basis not only scanning books but also donating volunteer credits toward membership scholarships for non-students.  The impact is rewarding and sometimes even appears in the form of “complaints.” For example, a member recently wrote in an e-mail, “Bookshare is piling on books faster than I can read the titles.”  All of this is a testament to the value that Bookshare brings to people with print disabilities and is direct reflection of its gifts from supporters, including the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs, publishers, volunteers, members, and friends.

So, you may be wondering, what’s next?  How can we extend these acts of kindness?  Bookshare has ambitious goals to reach further and deeper.  Currently, we have 25,384 student members in rural and/or low income communities.  Most of these students do not have access to the Internet or computers at home that they need to read Bookshare books.   We know that donations of low cost technology, such as USB Flash Drives or MP3 players can easily remedy this lack.  However, we need your help!  Our needs are simple; 1GB flash drives and 2GB MP3 players would help students read and study when they are not online, or are not at a computer.

Bookshare is doing good with tech – actively working to improve literacy amongst students with low vision, blindness, physical disabilities and learning disabilities in low income and rural areas, as well as all other demographic regions. And Bookshare lives collaborative philanthropy.

If you know of a company that might be interested in donating, or your company has excess inventory or a program to donate product, we welcome your support.  We accept all quantities and types of USB Flash Drives, MP3 players, and computers.  Please contact Mario Oliveros at to make a donation.  The equipment will immediately be distributed to some of Bookshare’s neediest members.

If you cannot help with product donation, we also welcome other offers of kindness.  For example, we accept fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter, new memberships, and of course, volunteers for our cause and our work.  Do not wait to join our team!

Thank you for visiting our blog and for your acts of kindness past, present, and future.  We look forward to hearing from you and spreading the “bug” of kindness together!

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