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Founded1989, 2001 under Benetech name
FounderJim Fruchterman
Area served
ProductSoftware for social good
Key people
Formerly called
Arkenstone, Inc.

Benetech is a nonprofit social enterprise organization that empowers communities with software for social good. Previous projects include the Route 66 Literacy Project, the Miradi environmental project management software, Martus (human rights abuse reporting), and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group.[1] Current program areas include global education, human rights, and poverty alleviation.


One of Benetech's key education program initiatives is Bookshare, an e-book library for people with print disabilities such as dyslexia, blindness, low vision, and physical disabilities.[2]

Another project is Benetech Service Net, an open standards data exchange platform that makes it easier to share and maintain information on local social and human services. Organizations providing referrals or referral technology (such as 2-1-1s, Healthify, or Health Leads) and agencies providing information about their services (such as community-based shelters, food pantries, or government agencies) can work together to make better data available for everyone.


Benetech was founded by technology entrepreneur Jim Fruchterman in Palo Alto, California, under the name of Arkenstone in 1989.[3] It was initially created to provide reading machines for blind people. During the period 1989-2000, over 35,000 reading machines were sold in sixty countries, reading twelve different languages. In 2000, the Arkenstone reading machine product line was sold to Freedom Scientific, and the nonprofit's name was changed to Benetech. The funding from the asset sale was used to start the Bookshare initiative and Martus project in 2001.[4][5]

Benetech and its Martus software were featured on the PBS NewsHour.[6]

In 2019, Benetech announced the expansion of its inclusive education initiatives, creating new partnerships with organisations such as Vision Australia, the Royal National Institute of Blind People in the UK, National Council for the Blind of Ireland, Canada's Center for Equitable Library Access and the Dubai government.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Perrini, Francesco. (2006). The new social entrepreneurship : what awaits social entrepreneurial ventures?. Edward Elgar. ISBN 1-84542-781-5. OCLC 63472522.
  2. ^ Langhorne, Emily. "Bookshare: How One Nonprofit Is Improving The Lives Of Students With 'Reading Barriers'". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  3. ^ "Palo Alto nonprofit Benetech wins a $42.5M Dept. of Education grant, a nod to founder Jim Fruchterman's quest to help the blind". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  4. ^ Kendrick, D: Interview in AccessWorld magazine "Fruchterman's Fantasy Becomes Reality". American Foundation for the Blind Press, November 2001.
  5. ^ An original outside Martus funder was the Open Society Institute through Aspiration, a non-profit software technology assistance initiative created by then OSI Internet Program Director Jonathan Peizer. Martus was the first tool this initiative supported because of its unique focus on human rights tracking.
  6. ^ Michels, Spencer (2011-03-25). "To Combat Human Rights Abuses, California Company Looks to Computer Code". MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
  7. ^ Inc, Beneficent Technology (2019-05-16). "Benetech Announces Major International Expansion to Help End the Global Book Famine". GlobeNewswire News Room. Retrieved 2019-08-06. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)

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