Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman Receives 2006 MacArthur Fellowship

By Benetech, posted on

Jim Fruchterman, CEO of The Benetech® Initiative, has been awarded a 2006 MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Each of this year’s 25 MacArthur Fellows learned this week that they will receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” funding over the next five years.

Jim Fruchterman, 47, is an electrical engineer turned social entrepreneur who adapts cutting-edge technology into affordable tools for the visually impaired and other underserved communities. In 1989, Fruchterman founded the nonprofit company Arkenstone to develop and manufacture a reading machine for the blind using optical character recognition technology. He delivered the reading tool in a dozen languages to 35,000 people in 60 countries.

In 2000, Fruchterman founded another nonprofit company, The Benetech Initiative, to create innovative technology solutions that address social needs. Benetech’s first project, Bookshare® created the world’s largest accessible library of scanned books and periodicals providing people with visual or print disabilities access to a dramatically increased volume of print materials.

Benetech’s Human Rights Program (HRP), provides information technology and scientific methods to human rights advocates. Benetech’s HRP developed Martus, a secure information management tool that allows human rights investigators to collect, safeguard and disseminate information about human rights violations.

Other Benetech programs include a landmine detection tool that seeks to safely rid the world of this deadly hazard and project management software for environmental groups. Benetech’s Route 66 Literacy is an Internet-based application serving adolescent and adult beginning readers with developmental disabilities.

According to Fruchterman, his MacArthur award allows him to further his work in technology applications and fulfill his dream of writing a book. “MacArthur’s award of the fellowship is a vote of confidence in the work that I’ve been doing at Benetech,” says Fruchterman. “This recognition will help us drive technology toward better serving humanity.”

Fruchterman is available to speak with the press this evening and throughout this week.

More information about Benetech and Fruchterman’s Beneblog can be found at A press release for professional journalists about the 2006 MacArthur Fellows with a full biography of Jim Fruchterman (“fruch” rhymes with book) is located at

Video B-Roll for Jim Fruchterman is also available.

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