22 September 2006

Room to Read, NaNoWriMo, and After Hours

Where to begin... I just got back from a presentation by John Wood titled after his book, "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World." A few years ago, John left Microsoft to establish Room To Read, a not-for-profit organization that builds schools, libraries, and provides scholarships in developing countries. Not surprisingly, an organization that encourages people to write also encourages them to give with a portion of the proceeds going to endow libraries in those countries through Room to Read. Here is a great statistic to chew on. Room to Read has built 3,000 libraries so far. For reference, Carnegie totaled 2,900 in his great library building phase in this country. Add to that the fact that all Carnegie's libraries were empty. Room to Read's libraries are fully stocked with bi-lingual books!

...and we helped.

After NaNoWriMo.org (now a not-for-profit called the Office of Letters and Light) meets its expenses through the generous donations of those who donate to the organization, half of the remaining funds are put aside to fund the costs of the next event, and half is donated to Room to Read to build libraries. Yay! for all of you who donate to Office of Letters and Light!

Three of us at Microsoft completed NaNoWriMo in 2005 and decided to try to do something good with our efforts. We've published them together as After Hours, an anthology of NaNoWriMo winners. Through our own checkbooks and a generous donation from our group VP, we have purchased 100 copies of the anthology. During the annual Giving Campaign that starts October 1, we will send a copy of the book to any Microsoft employee (up to 100) who donates at least $25 toward the library fund at Nano. The donations will be matched by Microsoft now that Office of Letters and Light is officially a 503c corporation. If we get enough donations to give away the whole run of 100 books, it will mean that we can donate a total of $5,000 to the Nano campaign. That's endowment for two libraries in Viet Nam.

The book is also for sale at www.lulu.com and we have committed to donating al the proceeds that we receive to the fund. Our cut on individual orders is about $9.40, so if you buy a copy of After Hours at Lulu, you can know that is how much will be added to our campaign and matched when we give it through Microsoft.

We are excited and psyched. And the stories aren't half bad! Chris Baty is coming to Microsoft on October 17 to talk about Nano and autograph copies of No Plot No Problem, and help us promote the anthology to our colleagues. Keep your fingers crossed that we'll be able to get the 100 $25 donations that will enable us to endow two libraries!

After Hours is also available at After Hours on Lulu.