The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia Launches “Technology Start-up Fund: Access for Asia”

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New “Kabul ER: The Power of a Book” documentary screened for publishers, donors, and government officials at New York reception.

Last night, The Asia Foundation and Books for Asia announced its brand-new “Technology Start-up Fund: Access for Asia” at The Power of a Book reception in New York. Attendees included publishers, donors, Asian government representatives, and executives from the philanthropy, education, and technology sectors gathered in The Greenhouse at Scholastic. The evening celebrated Books for Asia’s impact in today’s Asia with the first public screening of “Kabul ER: The Power of a Book,” a short Asia Foundation documentary highlighting the crisis in Kabul's public hospitals.

Books for Asia changes lives. Recognized by publishers as one of the world’s most effective book donation programs, The Asia Foundation’s longest-running program provides textbooks and educational materials to schools, universities, research institutes, and public libraries in 18 developing countries throughout Asia. The Asia Foundation is the premier international development organization serving the Asia-Pacific region.

With the generous support of publishers and donors, Books for Asia impacts 9 million people in Asia each year through donations of relevant, high-quality education material. Publishers, partners, and donors in attendance at the New York event include: Wiley, W. W. Norton, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, LexisNexis, Pearson Foundation, Association of American Publishers, and OOCL.

“To read is to be human,” said the evening’s special guest, Dr. Vartan Gregorian, former president of the New York Public Library, and current president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. “As a young boy in Iran, books provided me salvation and imagination. Without books and access to stories, I wouldn’t be here today. I am eternally grateful to The Asia Foundation for taking the power of books around Asia.”

“Through the generosity of our donors and partners, Books for Asia empowers future and current leaders with information in an increasingly connected and educated Asia,” said David D. Arnold, president of The Asia Foundation. “We know that an educated population is better equipped to combat poverty and disease, and to promote economic development and stability.”

Building on its vast network of Asian partners, Books for Asia’s “Technology Start-up Fund: Access for Asia” will support promising technology projects incubated by its in-country staff that further the program’s mission to improve access to information in developing Asia. “Books will continue to be a valued resource in developing Asia for a long time to come. But I am excited about the potential of technological innovations to create a more level playing field in education, training, and learning,” said Melody Zavala, director of Books for Asia. Read her related blog post.

The powerful film, “Kabul ER: The Power of a Book,” highlights the crisis in Kabul's public hospitals – frontlines of care for Afghans – and the near total lack of access to current medical textbooks. Learn more about Books for Asia’s donations of 4,000 medical textbooks and reference materials to Afghan health institutions here.

“There is an information crisis in all the countries we work in,” remarked Books for Asia's Naita Saechao. “Although the documentary focuses on doctors in Afghanistan, the lack of cutting-edge research and up-to-date information unfortunately does not just apply to the field of medicine and not only in Afghanistan.”

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization committed to the development of a peaceful, prosperous, just, and open Asia-Pacific region. The Foundation supports Asian initiatives to improve governance and law, economic development, women's empowerment, the environment, and regional cooperation. Drawing on nearly 60 years of experience in Asia, the Foundation collaborates with private and public partners to support leadership and institutional development, exchanges, and policy research.

With 17 offices throughout Asia, an office in Washington, DC, and its headquarters in San Francisco, the Foundation addresses these issues on both a country and regional level. In 2010, the Foundation provided more than $98 million in program support and distributed nearly one million books and journals valued at over $42 million.

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