Friday, February 26, 2010

Letter to Philanthropic Foundations

Free Schools World Literacy, Inc, is requesting a two-year grant from a variety of sources for production and distribution of a television documentary on the development of free schooling for children in rural villages in Bihar, India. Our goal is to raise public awareness of the problem and particularly on cost-effective solutions through the production of a documentary intended for airing on public television stations throughout the United States.

The documentary will assist FreeSchools World Literacy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, to address illiteracy among the world’s poorest children by raising awareness of the impact illiteracy has on millions of children, especially girls. FSWL is a proven organization that has started 80 Free Schools in the poorest areas of India.

Widespread illiteracy and extreme poverty greatly undermine our global interdependence and communications across diversity. Literacy elevates human dignity and is the hallmark of civilization. It develops personal expression, critical thinking and problem-solving skills and is a pre-requisite to civic participation and economic productivity.

But in today’s world, almost one billion adults are illiterate, and two-thirds are women. Asia is home to half the human race with illiteracy running four times that of Africa, Europe and South America combined. The worst illiteracy is in India, where 700 million live on less than $2/day and 200 million women cannot read or write. Studies show that illiteracy works its greatest hardship on women and children.

Thousands of poor illiterate village children are trafficked every year through networks around the world, becoming helpless victims of bonded labour, slavery, forced marriage and the sex trade. Human trafficking, on a global scale, is the third largest source of profit for organized crime after weapons and drugs. Billions of dollars are generated through the victimization of women and children.

Illiteracy is a solvable problem, but governments and international NGOs have not been entirely successful in accessing the rural poor in Asia. Top-down literacy programs can be expensive and corruption is difficult to control. In traditional villages that have been illiterate for generations, there is little or no appreciation for the value of education, especially for girls. Consequently, there is resistance and suspicion by village leaders and parents – even when education is free. It takes patient and respectful leadership at the grassroots to overcome these barriers. Once trust is won and villagers see how education benefits their children, they begin to value and support school culture.

Free Schools World Literacy has enlisted the services of Edgewood Pictures, Inc. of New York to develop the documentary. Edgewood Pictures' most recent film, Wings of Defeat, on surviving Kamikaze pilots, has received international acclaim and aired on PBS' Emmy Award-winning program, Independent Lens, on May 5, 2009. Wings of Defeat was awarded the 2009 Erik Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians and the 2008 Above and Beyond Award for Best Documentary from the Women’s Film Critics Circle.

The primary contact person for this proposal is:
Susan Cook, Producer/Project Manager
415 Shannon Avenue
Smithville, MO 64089
Phone: (816) 716-0330

All Enclosers will have:

Project Description
IRS determination letter
Project Budget

Thank you so much for considering us,

Susan C. Cook

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