As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to look back and celebrate key accomplishments as we look ahead to 2018 with anticipation and excitement. We are proud of our ability to tackle hard problems and deliver positive and lasting social good in the areas of poverty, education, and human rights. Here are some of our favorite highlights from 2017:
Benetech Secures Funding Led by Kaiser Permanente to Strengthen the Bay Area’s and Sacramento’s Social Safety Nets
Benetech recently announced funding led by Kaiser Permanente in addition to new data partnerships with the social enterprise Health Leads, Sacramento 2-1-1, San Mateo County, and Eden I&R/2-1-1 Alameda County. The funding and partnerships build on Benetech’s leading social services work with United Way Bay Area and the Open Referral Initiative to provide greater access to health resource data for Bay Area residents who rely on the social safety net.
Every day in every community, there are people who need help with basic necessities. A web of complex needs exists, but information about the various services that address those needs — services that form the social safety net — is difficult to find and invisible to the people who urgently need help. The Benetech Service Net data platform approaches this problem in a new way, by enabling many different systems to access the same data, and incentivizing the stakeholders to collaborate.
The social sector has not fully benefited from what Silicon Valley does best: software and data. That is the big unmet need, and the reality is that the social sector must learn from Silicon Valley’s software and data prowess if it ever wants to achieve the incredible lasting scale and penetration that the world’s most successful software companies have achieved. My prediction is that the majority of revolutionary nonprofits started in the next decade will have software and data at their core shaped by the voices of the people they serve.
Benetech recently received a five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, to expand and improve access to books for students who read differently due to blindness, low vision, a physical disability, or dyslexia. Bookshare, the largest online library of accessible books, will remain free for all U.S. school districts, schools, educators, and their qualified students.
Benetech Establishes Global Certified Accessible Program to Ensure Content Serves All Students Equally
Benetech, in conjunction with Dedicon, Royal National Institute of Blind People, and Vision Australia, announced Global Certified Accessible. The program is the first third-party ebook verification program for accessible content. Global Certified Accessible supports publisher efforts to meet or exceed accessibility requirements set by K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions.
Digital content is on the rise in classrooms, and much of this content comes in the form of ebooks. Unfortunately, not all ebooks are accessible to students unable to read standard print due to low vision, blindness, or dyslexia. Procurement staff must know what to look for in order to identify content that works for all students. These seven questions are a good place to start.
USAID and World Vision issued a challenge in 2014 to improve the reading scores of primary school children in the developing world using technology-based solutions. Benetech led a three-year project in India that exceeded all goals, delivered 1,295 accessible ebooks to 131 students with visual impairments, and improved reading skills.
Making software inclusive – that is, accessible to a global audience — is especially relevant for those creating tools for human rights defenders. Software developers sometimes overlook key challenges of the environments where many human rights defenders live and work. Tech developers often make several assumptions that limit the inclusivity and effectiveness of their software.
Join the Software for Social Good Revolution
We invite you to connect and engage with the Benetech community now and in 2018 by:
- Subscribing to the Benetech blog to get periodic updates
- Investing in innovation for social good
- Exploring volunteer opportunities
- Following Benetech on social media
To all of our funders, partners, users, supporters, and volunteers, we appreciate all you do to help us build software for social good that powers real, lasting change. We can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring!
Warmest wishes for a happy holiday season from all of us at Benetech.