Marking major milestone, Better World Books honors roots with $10,000 gift for Robinson Community Learning Center

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Teacher Meli Bandera from Ameri Corps plays with Ahmed Abdelaziz in the new preschool space at the Robinson Community Learning Center. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Teacher Meli Bandera from Ameri Corps plays with Ahmed Abdelaziz in the new preschool space at the Robinson Community Learning Center. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Better World Books, an online bookseller with ties to the University of Notre Dame that donates books and a share of its profits to literacy programs around the globe, recently sold its 100 millionth book.

To mark the occasion, the company — based in Mishawaka — awarded $10,000 to the Notre Dame Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC), where it originated as a campus book drive back in 2002.

The grant is for the purchase of new and used books for the RCLC, which offers educational programming, including language, literacy, tutoring and Shakespeare programs and a licensed preschool, to children and adults in the South Bend Community.

“The Robinson Community Learning Center is very grateful to have received a $10,000 grant in honor of this occasion that we can spend on books from Better World Books,” said Jennifer Knapp Beudert, manager of the RCLC. “These books will support our literacy tutoring programs, the Robinson Shakespeare Company, the Robinson Community Learning Center Preschool, the Talk With Your Baby program and book clubs for senior adults for years to come.”

In addition to the RCLC, the company is awarding $2,500 to the North Carolina library from which the 100 millionth book was acquired. It also plans to bring its bookmobile to the RCLC once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

“There is no doubt books change lives,” said Dustin Holland, president and CEO of Better World Books. “At 100 million books sold, Better World Books is in business to make a difference in the world, and we are thrilled to share this milestone and achievement with our customers, partners and team members.”

Better World Books is a certified B Corporation that collects and sells new and used books online as a way to support literacy programs and libraries in the U.S. and around the world.

It was founded by Notre Dame alumni Christopher Fuchs, Xavier Helgesen, Jeff Kurtzman and David Murphy, with support from the former Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship, now the IDEA Center, in the form of $7,500 in prize money from the center’s annual Social Venture Business Plan Competition, now the McCloskey New Venture Competition.

Murphy, assistant provost, Office of Innovation/IDEA Center, faculty member and executive director of both student entrepreneurship and the ESTEEM Graduate Program at Notre Dame, served as president and CEO of the company from its inception to 2011.

“What began as a dream here at Notre Dame has created and scaled an incredible level of impact that reflects Father Sorin’s mission for Our Lady’s University: to be a powerful force for good in this world,” said Murphy. “Many, many people came together to make this happen, and I want to thank our hundreds of employees, our millions of book donors/partners and customers, and so many others for embracing our vision to bring literacy and education to the world one book at a time.”

Better World Books’ used book inventory comes from regular book drives at colleges and universities, surplus books from more than 4,000 libraries and donation boxes on corners and college campuses. The company employs more than 350 people in Mishawaka; Reno, Nevada; and Dunfermline, Scotland.

From humble beginnings in a back room at the RCLC, the company has reused or recycled more than 373 million books, donated 29 million books and contributed $32 million to literacy programs and libraries over the past 19 years.

The company was featured in the “What Would You Fight For” campaign, a collaboration between Notre Dame and NBC Sports, in 2010. “Fighting to Bring Literacy to the World” highlighted the company’s origins and its mission to promote literacy and sustainability.

To date, the company has donated more than $250,000 to the RCLC from the annual sale of books collected at donation boxes in the South Bend area, primarily at Martin’s Super Market locations but also at the RCLC itself. It has also donated books to the RCLC in the past.

“We started from Notre Dame, we sold our 100 millionth book because of Notre Dame, and the story continues,” said Holland.

For more information about the RCLC, visit rclc.nd.edu.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu