The Legacy of a Visionary Philanthropist

William (Bill) Burt
In honouring Bill Burt, CODE continues to accept donations that will contribute to his legacy.

Thanks to Bill, since 2008:

1,401 local writers and editors trained in 55 workshops in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and the Caribbean.

89 titles received the Burt Award, of which 13 are approved for use in national education curricula participating African countries.

227,176 copies of Burt Award books donated to schools, libraries, community centres, and other charitable organizations in Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and the Caribbean.

177,226 copies of Burt Award-winning titles reportedly sold independently by their publishers.

On October 16th, 2017 CODE lost a dear friend. William (Bill) Burt, the visionary behind the literary award, which bears his name, passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Upon learning about CODE and its work through a newspaper article, Bill began to support its programming of literacy and education in the developing world. Having been fortunate to benefit from Bill’s generosity for years since that time, it was during a CODE organized travel experience named Seeing is Believing to Ethiopia that truly ignited his desire to do more.

Standing beside an almost empty bookcase in the back of a rural library in Ethiopia, he noticed something curiously interesting. Amongst the very few books on the shelves was one book, which was obviously well read. He took the book and asked the librarian why of the few books in the library was this one seems so loved. He learned that it was the only book that really appealed to youth. He could relate. He often shared that his own love of reading was sparked by the Hardy Boys. Books that appealed to him as a boy.

Burt Award for Young Adult Literature sealHe envisioned a program that would capture the imagination of youth by nurturing a love of reading. As a result, it could also serve to strengthen their literacy. He turned to CODE to help make it happen.

The program encourages local authors to write fiction for youth. It recognizes and celebrates the best-judged authors’ titles every year with generous monetary awards. Yet, it is a literary award like no other. The program also purchases large quantities of these award-winning books and distributes them to schools and libraries – making them accessible and important in developing stronger literacy skills.

Since the introduction of the “Burt Prize” (as it was affectionately referred to by Bill) in Tanzania in 2007, the program has benefitted hundreds of thousands of youth in four African countries, the Caribbean as well as here in Canada amongst First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

Bill was a humble and exceptionally thoughtful philanthropist. He regularly challenged CODE to ensure that the impact of the program would be as far-reaching as possible. It was all about getting these books into the hands of young people who would most greatly benefit from them. We already miss our friend but we will work diligently to steward his legacy alongside his family.

Bill Burt speaking to CODE Board of Directors
Bill Burt speaking to the Board of Directors and guests in attendance at CODE's Annual General Meeting in Ottawa, June 2011.

In honouring Bill, CODE continues to accept donations that will contribute to his legacy.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018
News Type: 
Burt Award News
In the News

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