Human Services

Books for Africa, Inc.

  • St. Paul, MN
  • http://www.booksforafrica.org

Mission Statement

Books For Africa's vision is to end the book famine in Africa.  To accomplish that, the organization collects, sorts and ships donated textbooks, reference and general reading books to countries throughout Africa. BFA has delivered books to 49 different African countries in the past 27 years.

Main Programs

  1. Books For Africa
  2. Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative
  3. Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Vocational Skills Initiative
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Books For Africa serves the countries of Africa.

ruling year

1993

Principal Officer since 2003

Self-reported

Mr. Patrick Plonski Ph.D.

Keywords

Self-reported

africa, book, read, learn, school, library, literacy, children

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Also Known As

BFA

EIN

41-1627391

 Number

7717688899

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

International, Foreign Affairs, and National Security N.E.C. (Q99)

Education N.E.C. (B99)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Books for Africa has sent over 33 million books to 49 African countries.  These books have served to establish libraries in schools, universities, community centers and orphanages in those countries.   

Qualitative and quantitative research has shown books to be an excellent tool in improving educational outcomes. A 2015 World Bank report states that "No other input is likely to be more cost effective than making high-quality learning materials available to all students…" Other studies have reached similar conclusions to the 2015 World Bank report: https://www.booksforafrica.org/why-books/2015-world-bank-report.html

The impact of Books For Africa's work was perhaps stated best by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

 "Books For Africa is a simple idea, but its impact is transformative. For us, as I have said before, literacy is quite simply the bridge from misery to hope. Literacy provides the keys to learning and empowers the individuals to expand their choices and opportunities for the future."

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Books For Africa

Books For Africa is a simple name for a simple organization. We collect, sort, ship and distribute books to the children of Africa.

Category

International, Foreign Affairs & National Security

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

Program 2

Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative

Books For Africa's Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative provides law and human rights books to new democracies looking for support in solidifying the rule of law.  Books for this intiative are provided by Thomson Reuters/ Westlaw, the lawbook publishing arm of Thomson Reuters.

Category

International, Foreign Affairs & National Security

Population(s) Served

Adults

Blacks

Budget

Program 3

Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Vocational Skills Initiative

The Books For Africa Agriculture, Natural Resource, and Vocational Skills Initiative provides libraries of new textbooks focused on improving African agricultural systems. The books offer training for secondary and post-secondary students in the best practices for food production and farming. The libraries focuses on four areas of agricultural development including: crops, animals, the environment and farming practices. The knowledge in these books will help African communities tailor solutions to the unique challenges they face to develop efficient food and agricultural systems for generations to come.

Category

Population(s) Served

Budget

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The mission of Books For Africa is to end the book famine in Africa. We aim to help create a culture of literacy and provide the tools of empowerment to the next generation of parents, teachers, and leaders in Africa.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Books donated by publishers, schools, libraries, individuals, and organizations are sorted and packed by volunteers who carefully choose books that are age and subject appropriate.

    They are shipped in sea containers paid for by contributions from people like you. It costs about 50 cents to send a book from the United States to Africa. Books For Africa has shipped more than 33 million books to 49 different countries since 1988.

    Over the past 12 months we have shipped 2.4 million books, 665 computers and 200 e-readers containing 1.6 million digital books, as well as 5 new law and human rights libraries to 21 African countries. More than $2.3 million was raised last year to ship the books to the students of Africa.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Over 27 years of operations Books For Africa has built a strong distribution network across the African continent, allowing us to reach a great diversity of communities: urban & rural, large & small, encompassing a wide variety of religions and cultures.

    Domestically, BFA has received numerous accolades for accountability and transparency, while building a base of donors and volunteers that are passionate about our mission.

    We are confident that these networks will only continue to grow, allowing us to increase the breadth and scope of our projects and continue providing high-quality materials to children and students who need them.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Books For Africa conducts pre- and post-delivery surveys and discussions with recipient organizations to assess efficacy and develop program improvements.

    In October 2014 Project Manager Rachel Brady visited recipient institutions in Rwanda, collecting data and speaking with library administrators and users. The information collected on this trip has provided the framework for significant improvements to BFA’s feedback and evaluation systems, and delivered valuable insight into economic and social factors that contribute (or are barriers) to a successful library project.

    Internal and external academic studies provide additional insight into the efficacy of programs, allowing us to measure the impact of services provided and change course where necessary.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    BFA has made great strides in the fight to end the African book famine. The 33 million books delivered over the past 27 years have made a real and enduring impact in African communities.

    However, there is much to be done. With half a billion children on the African continent, the need is greater than ever for quality educational materials. UNICEF reports that by the end of the 21st century, half the world population under 18 will be in Africa. In an increasingly global world, it is essential that the current generation of African children receive a world-class education. We have a lot yet to accomplish, but providing high-quality books is a tried and true method of positively impacting educational outcomes, and we are dedicated to our mission of ending the book famine in Africa.
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Books For Africa serves the countries of Africa.

Funding Needs

Books For Africa solicits funding to defray the costs of shipping books to Africa.  These costs include transportation costs as well as general expenses related to the costs of operating the warehouses and overhead.  Working with donated books, a contribution of only $.50 can send a book to Africa.

Accreditations

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External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

BOOKS FOR AFRICA INC
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Books for Africa, Inc.

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

Principal Officer

Mr. Patrick Plonski Ph.D.

BIO

Patrick Plonski started as executive director on January 1, 2003. He comes from the U of MN where he served as executive director of MAELC (Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council.)

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"At Books For Africa, we believe that education is the great equalizer in the world, and that books are at the foundation of a strong educational system.  In the words of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:  "Literacy is quite simply the bridge from misery to hope."  We appreciate your help in building the bridge that will expand opportunities for so many Africans."

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Rosemond Sarpong Owens

Centracare Health Systems

Term: July 2014 - June 2016

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?