Arts, Culture, and Humanities

BENEFICENT TECHNOLOGY INC

  • Palo Alto, CA
  • www.benetech.org

Mission Statement

Benetech develops innovative and effective technology applications for unmet social needs.

Main Programs

  1. Global Literacy
  2. Human Rights
  3. Environment
  4. Benetech Labs

service areas

International

Self-reported by organization

ruling year

2001

chief executive

Mr. James R. Fruchterman

Self-reported by organization

Keywords

social impact, blindness, print disabilities, global literacy, education, human rights, environment

Self-reported by organization

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EIN

77-0555413

Physical Address

480 S California Ave Ste 201

Palo Alto, CA 94360 1609

Also Known As

Benetech

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Management & Technical Assistance (A02)

International Human Rights (Q70)

Libraries, Library Science (B70)

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?

Impact statement

Over the years, Benetech’s work has dramatically influenced the social entrepreneurial movement and the fields in which we operate. As of December 2014:
- Our Bookshare library serves over 330,000 members with print disabilities in more than 50 countries, with a collection of over 315,000 accessible ebooks. Bookshare helps these individuals succeed in school, employment, civic engagement, and beyond.
- Martus, our free, open source, secure software tool for human rights defenders and members of civil society organizations has been downloaded in over 120 countries and used to secure over 150,000 records documenting human rights violations. Martus protects the identities of rights activists, witnesses, and victims, and empowers them to be stronger in their fight against injustice and abuse.
- Our SocialCoding4Good initiative has signed up over 1,000 software development professionals to volunteer their time and technical skills to nonprofit partners that develop and maintain free and open source software addressing critical social problems. SocialCoding4Good is a force multiplier: the nonprofit organizations we work with serve underprivileged communities around the world; SocialCoding4Good makes them stronger.

Programs

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

Self-reported by organization

Program 1

Global Literacy

Literacy and education are not a privilege, but a basic human right—fundamental to personal, economic, and social development. Yet, millions of people are denied this right because they face tremendous barriers of access to information:
• Many have learning differences, like dyslexia.
• Some have physical or visual disabilities, like blindness.
• Others have developmental disabilities and have not been taught to read into adulthood.
They remain locked out of living fully in our information-rich world.
The Benetech Global Literacy Program was founded to address the needs of this underserved population. We do this by working on two fronts:
1) Creating and delivering affordable tools and services that provide equal access to information and literacy. Our Bookshare initiative is the world’s largest online accessible library of copyrighted materials for people with print disabilities. See www.bookshare.org. Our Route 66 Literacy initiative is an online instructional literacy application that pairs adolescent and adult beginning readers with literate volunteer tutors. See www.route66literacy.org.
2) Catalyzing the systemic change required to permanently improve the educational landscape for people with limited accessibility to literacy. Our DIAGRAM Center initiative is a research and development center working to promote inclusive publishing and to make it easier, cheaper, and faster to create and use accessible digital images. See www.diagramcenter.org

Category

Education & Technology

Budget

Population Served

Blind and Vision Impaired

Disabled, General or Disability Unspecified

None

Program 2

Human Rights

Around the world, there are people whose fundamental human rights are violated on a daily basis. Victims, witnesses, as well as human rights advocates and fieldworkers put their lives at grave risk when they gather and store records of these abuses.

Benetech’s Human Rights Program was founded to empower human rights defenders, fieldworkers, journalists, and other actors to securely collect sensitive information about violations and to effectively utilize it to achieve their goals.

We do this by:
1) Providing free, open source, secure software tools for collecting and analyzing human rights information;
2) Extending capacity building and data security trainings to at-risk human rights groups in countries with state-sanctioned harassment;
3) Advancing the field of human rights by partnering with preeminent organizations, such as Amnesty International, The Guardian Project, Human Rights Watch, The Tor Project, and WITNESS.

With these combined efforts we advance the global community of rights defenders and social justice actors. See www.martus.org.

Category

International Human Rights

Budget

Population Served

General Public/Unspecified

None

None

Program 3

Environment

In collaboration with environmental organizations, local communities, and industry partners, Benetech’s Environment Program is exploring open source technology solutions to help communities address sustainability challenges.

The most recent environment initiative Benetech has scaled is Miradi (www.miradi.org), an open source tool that helps environmentalists more effectively design, monitor, and evaluate their conservation efforts. By meeting their management and measurement needs, Miradi helps conservationists apply best practices to their work and achieve better conservation outcomes. In 2014, after growing Miradi to a position where it can be self-sufficient, Benetech spun off Miradi to be independently managed by the conservation community so that it better serves its users.

Benetech’s Environment Program continues with new sustainability-focused projects, which are currently developed as part of Benetech Labs. These include a clean water project, whose goal is to strengthen Latin American water organizations to more effectively deliver clean drinking water to communities in need.

Category

Environment, General/Other

Budget

Population Served

General Public/Unspecified

None

None

Program 4

Benetech Labs

At any given time, Benetech has dozens of new ideas in our pipeline, coming from staff, donors, users, volunteers, social entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We established Benetech Labs in order to determine the feasibility of these ideas, identify which of them could yield a successful project, and develop new technology applications so that, ultimately, we can launch successful new tools that address unmet needs of entire communities. See http://benetech.org/our-programs/benetech-labs/.

Category

Engineering & Technology

Budget

Population Served

Adults

None

None

service areas

International

Self-reported by organization

Blog

The organization's Blog

Social Media

@Benetech.Org

@Benetech

@benetech

@BenetechOrg

Videos

photos




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Financials

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

BENEFICENT TECHNOLOGY INC.
Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

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

BENEFICENT TECHNOLOGY INC

Leadership

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Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2013 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
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CHIEF EXECUTIVE FOR FISCAL YEAR

Mr. James R. Fruchterman

BIO

Jim Fruchterman is a leading social entrepreneur and founding CEO of Benetech. A technology entrepreneur and engineer, Fruchterman was a rocket scientist, founded two of the foremost optical character recognition companies and created numerous technology social enterprises. Fruchterman cofounded Calera Recognition Systems and RAF Technology, Inc., both of which were based on optical character recognition technology. In 1989, Fruchterman founded Benetech as a different kind of tech company – a nonprofit – with a pure focus on developing technology for the social good.
In recognition of his work as a pioneering social entrepreneur, Fruchterman received the MacArthur Fellowship and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and was named a Schwab Social Entrepreneur. He is also the recipient of many other awards. He believes that technology is the ultimate leveler, allowing disadvantaged people to overcome achievement gaps and improve their lives.
Fruchterman received a B.S. in engineering and an M.S. in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology.

STATEMENT FROM THE CEO

"Technology has redefined what’s possible for our society and each week brings news of organizations doing great things with it for the social good. In addition, now more than ever, those who have benefited greatly from technology are giving back. For example, the Giving Pledge campaign that began with efforts by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett is encouraging the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. It’s a powerful example of this “brave new world” we live in, where private resources are deployed to create and sustain public goods.
So, yes, I do feel optimistic. I believe there’s a growing recognition that the world has become a global village and it’s our responsibility to see to it that all “villagers” can improve their lives.
As social entrepreneurship moves from niche to mainstream, and the social enterprise economy grows, Benetech looks forward to growing our impact. There are many social needs that continue to go unmet and we have both a passion and a solid track record of successfully meeting those needs for the benefit of all of humanity. And, I hope more and more of the people behind our terrific technological advances join us in the effort to see to it that all of humanity benefits from our incredible technological innovations.

[Excerpted from Jim Fruchterman's blog post, "Technology for All: From Gandhi to TED - Part 2." The full text is available here: http://benetech.blogspot.com/2013/05/technology-for-all-from-gandhi-to-ted_14.html.]"

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Ms. Christy R Chin

Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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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?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

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


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ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

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


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BOARD COMPOSITION

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


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

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