Jim Fruchterman

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Jim Fruchterman
Jim Fruchterman Portrait.jpg
Born (1959-05-01) May 1, 1959 (age 55)
Residence USA
Alma mater B.S. Engineering, M.S. Applied Physics - California Institute of Technology
Known for pioneering social entrepreneur, President and CEO of Benetech

Jim Fruchterman is a social entrepreneur. He is a former technology entrepreneur who creates social technology enterprises that target underserved communities.

Fruchterman was a co-founder of Calera Recognition Systems in 1982. The company developed optical character recognition (OCR) technology that allows computers to read virtually all printed text. In 1989, he founded Arkenstone, a nonprofit social enterprise that produced reading machines for people with visual disabilities based on the Calera technology. The same year, he also cofounded RAF Technology, Inc., a postal OCR technology company.

Arkenstone’s business assets and name were sold to the for-profit firm Freedom Scientific in April 2000, and the nonprofit changed its name to Benetech, which is now based in Palo Alto, California. Fruchterman has been President and CEO of Benetech since its founding.

Fruchterman served on two U.S. federal government advisory committees for disability issues: the Section 255 Telecommunications Access Advisory Committee and the Section 508 Electronic Information and Technology Access Advisory Committee. He is a founding director and was the 2008–2010 board chair of the Social Enterprise Alliance, a member organization for organizations or ventures that achieves its primary social or environmental mission using business methods. Fruchterman also serves on the board of directors at ZeroDivide, a nonprofit venture philanthropy foundation.

Personal awards[edit]

Fruchterman received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006 and the Outstanding Social Entrepreneur award in 2003 from the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. He received the Robert F. Bray Award in 2003 from the American Council of the Blind in recognition of his efforts to make published works accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. In 2003, Fruchterman received the Francis Joseph Campbell award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to the advancement of library service for the blind and physically handicapped. He also received the Access Award from the American Foundation for the Blind.

Benetech awards under Fruchterman's leadership[edit]

In 2004 and 2006, Benetech received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation. The company also received the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award in 2008 from the National Federation of the Blind and the 2008 AT&T Technology Innovation Award which recognizes a technology company that has created a lasting impact through the development of assistive technologies.


  • Fruchterman, Jim, “Accessing Books and Documents,” in Assistive Technology for Vision-Impaired and Blind People, Springer Verlag. (pdf) (2008)
  • Fruchterman, Jim and Lisa Friendly, “Bookshare.org for Education (B4E) Presentation to OSEP,” (2007)
  • Fruchterman, Jim and Gregg Vanderheiden, “Everyone Deserves Access to Technology,” The Sacramento Bee, (2007)
  • Fruchterman, Jim, Jed Emerson and Tim Freundlich, “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Addressing the Critical Gaps in Risk-Taking Capital for Social Enterprise,” (2007) (pdf)
  • Fruchterman, Jim, “Build Great Companies, Then Help Build A Great World,” San Jose Mercury News (2006)
  • Fruchterman, Jim, “High Tech Approaches for Building Social Enterprise: Jim Fruchterman on Leveraging Intellectual Property-Based Social Ventures.” (2006) Social Enterprise Reporter
  • Fruchterman, Jim, “Comments on Accessibility of Google Print and Google's Library Project (2005) (pdf)
  • Fruchterman, Jim, “Technology Benefiting Humanity,” in Association for Computing Machines Ubiquity (2004)
  • Fruchterman, Jim, “The Power of Technology Social Enterprises,” N-TEN forecast series. (2004)
  • Fruchterman, Jim, “In the Palm of Your Hand: A Vision of the Future of Technology for People with Visual Impairments,” in American Foundation for the Blind’s Journal of Vision Impairment and Blindness. (2003)
  • Fruchterman, Jim and Alison Lingane, “The Chafee Amendment: Improving Access to Information,” in Information Technology and Disabilities. (2003)
  • Fruchterman, Jim, and George Kerscher, “The Soundproof Book: Exploration of Rights Conflict and Access to Commercial EBooks for People with Disabilities,” in First Monday. (2002)


External links[edit]