Books & Beyond has grown and expanded rapidly each year, but never before as it did in year four. This academic year, the project welcomed a brand new leadership team with nine students, including five AmeriCorps Service-Engagement Corps members, dedicated to recruiting, training, and leading their peers in various project roles throughout the year. These leaders recruited the largest cohort of volunteers for the project, with 72 students committing to serve the project in various capacities.
Additionally, the project welcomed a new team to the table, Public Relations, and two additional leadership positions, Strategic Planner and Student Director. The Public Relations team, in turn, brought a number of new aspects to the project, including the biweekly publication Amakuru and a stronger social media presence.
Engaging supporters through social media and Amakuru helped the project to win the Citgo Fueling Good award, a $5,000 gas card prize for being one of the top five education-based non-profits in the nation and for getting the most votes in an online voting competition. The award was presented to Books & Beyond leaders and supporters in a ceremony at Indiana University on April 10, 2012.
In addition to winning the Fueling Good award, Books & Beyond also raised approximately $15,000 throughout the academic year, thanks to the efforts of the Fund Development Team who gave a number of presentations both on and off campus and applied for several grants to support the project. Fund Development Team members also developed a new online store for the project (http://booksnbeyondstore.org) where project participants and supporters may purchase items to support the project. Store inventory includes all three volumes of The World is Our Home, Rwandan handicrafts, and Books & Beyond T-shirts.
Year four was also a year of new partnerships for the project, including a collaboration with the Kelley School of Businessthat allowed four MBA students to serve as consultants for the project, resulting in the development of a strong fund development strategy for future years and the establishment of new community partners.
In working to expand upon these existing partnerships, Books & Beyond also held its first Advisory Board meeting in April 2012 including board members from Indiana University and the Bloomington community. Leadership Team members introduced the Advisory Board to the project and recent developments and Board members offered suggestions on how to improve Books & Beyond in the future. The Board is set to meet once per semester and will help to guide future leadership teams in their work on expanding the project.
Over the summer, the fourth volume of The World is Our Home will be published and delivered to the Kabwende Primary School, along with a delegation of Indiana University and TEAM Schools students that will run the inaugural Kabwende Holiday Camp, an opportunity for students and teachers at Kabwende to improve their English, reading, and writing skills. Shortly after returning from this trip, Indiana University Leadership Team members will launch Year Five of the Books & Beyond project, with more opportunities for students to read, learn, teach, and grow together.