More than 150 student leaders across the nation are spreading the word at their respective college campuses. And Arizona’s universities are no exception.
The message is simple: If a college student uploads 10 documents of study materials to Course Hero, the company will then donate a book to students in Africa via its Knowledge Drive, which was launched November 2010.
Course Hero is the growingly successful brainchild of founder and CEO Andrew Grauer after graduating from high school in 2005. While attending college, Grauer paired up with John Stacey III, who is now the founder of Knowledge Drive and vice president of campus programs. Both graduated in 2009.
The duo wanted to put some use to the study guides and notes filling college students’ waste bins to the brim, so they created an online community in which college students from across the country could upload their notes, study guides, lectures, outlines, etc., to share with one another, as well as browse the site for any materials for which they may be searching.
“Our simple goal is to make education accessible for students around the world, and we are doing this by providing an open platform where students and teachers of all ages can share and access high quality learning resources in a wide variety of subjects,” Stacey says. “We want students to be able to study, learn and achieve in a way that is relevant and connected to them, from anywhere in the world.”
Course Hero continues to steadily gain users, with currently more than 1 million and counting.
In the duo’s efforts to make materials more accessible nationwide, they decided to take things a step further — make education accessible not only in the U.S., but also abroad, thus creating Knowledge Drive.
Knowledge Drive’s mission is two-fold: First, Stacey and Grauer wanted to continue to strengthen and increase the number of documents uploaded to Course Hero’s library of materials; and two, they strive to give the gift of education to children of all ages abroad, via donated books, by teaming up with Books for Africa, the world’s largest shipper of donated books to that continent, with more than 24 million donated so far.
“We partnered with the one that we connected with best — both on a personal level, and in regards to make education and educational resources more accessible for all,” Stacey says. “Books for Africa’s mission statement aligned perfectly with our mission.”
In order to bring their plan to fruition, Stacey and Grauer came to the conclusion that donating money from the pockets of college students was out of the question. Stacey says they wanted to give students the opportunity to donate without having to give money.
“Students don’t have money, but they do have knowledge, and vast amounts of study materials that they create, but then simply leave untouched after the class is finished,” Stacey says. “Why not let others learn from the amazing resources they have created, and donate and support education abroad in the process?”
The Knowledge Drive was launched at 50 select schools across the country, including Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, the University of Texas, New York University and the University of Florida, to name a few.
While Stacey has plans to expand the number of participating schools throughout the year, keeping the number small and manageable allows them to focus on the students and their involvement in the Knowledge Drive.
“We wanted to focus on connecting with students and connecting with each campus, instead of simply and carelessly trying to bring it to every school at once,” Stacey says. “We wanted to find students that are truly inspired by this initiative and let them use their passion and intellect to help shape the Knowledge Drive to their campus.”
Currently, there are five to seven student leaders in Arizona from both UA and ASU. The role of these student leaders is to get the word out in unique and effective ways.
Students are doing so through group challenges, word of mouth through friends and peers, blogs, campus newspapers, book drives, connecting with campus organizations, fraternities, sororities and more, Stacey says.
“We give them the tools and the guidance, but we really want to let these bright, smart, inspirational students utilize their unique traits to build this initiative,” Stacey says. “We want this movement to be personal — no fliers, no mass emails — personal.”
So far, the Knowledge Drive has donated nearly 6,000 books to children in Africa. The types of books span all reading levels and ages, from kindergarten and preschool to post secondary. And the books cover all subjects, from fact to fiction.
Course Hero’s Knowledge Drive has its goal set at donating 150,000 books, which Stacey hopes will take 18 months, although it may be possibly less time than that due to the tremendous support from students so far.
“This is a movement for students, led by students, and we want them to continue to be the heart of this initiative,” Stacey says. “I truly believe this is something that every single student in the world would be excited to be involved with, something powerful, something that benefits the entire landscape of education.”