Back by Popular Demand at Microsoft Alumni Foundation (MSAF) Celebration 2011

November 14th, 2011

Cliff Schmidt receiving the 2010 MSAF Integral Fellows Award from Bill and Melinda Gates

2010 Integral Fellows award winner Cliff Schmidt will be speaking at the MSAF 2011 Celebration, Wednesday, November 16, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Keep checking back for updates.

Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2011

October 28th, 2011

President Bill Clinton congratulates Cliff Schmidt on Literacy Bridge's CGI commitment

The CGI Annual Meeting offered an unparalleled opportunity to introduce Literacy Bridge to a worldwide audience. Among the many people who learned from Cliff Schmidt about Literacy Bridge’s work included President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and actress/activist Geena Davis.

Each expressed strong interest in Literacy Bridge’s work along with a large number of people from all corners of the world. For example, President of the Rockefeller Foundation Judith Rodin said that she has been impressed with Literacy Bridge from the day that she was first introduced to its work as a member of the selection committee for the Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellows Awards. Cliff was chosen as one of three award winners in 2010. President Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, was among several leaders who expressed a great deal of interest in getting the Talking Book Program into their countries.

Literacy Bridge’s CGI commitment attracted attention from CGI members, as well. The Health & Agriculture Communication for Women & Children Program was developed in response to the need for a comprehensive solution in global health and hunger. Utilizing an integrated, cost-effective communications strategy, the program incorporates critical health messages and farming best practices that help reduce maternal and child mortality.

Literacy Bridge Featured on BBC Radio and More

October 27th, 2011

BBC Radio

“[The Talking Book] is taking further what has been done with text messages for many years… and turning it into stuff that you can listen to on a device that is dedicated for this purpose and does it very well…There is a whole ecosystem around this…designed to make it as easy as possible for people to get information out as possible to people who would otherwise not have access to technology…who won’t necessarily be literate…This will prove to be incredibly valuable to people all over the place,” said BBC’s commentator Bill Thompson. These remarks and more followed Cliff Schmidt’s interview on the BBC radio program Click, which aired on October 25.  Here’s Cliff’s interview with Click’s host Gareth Mitchell.


Cliff Schmidt was invited for a return visit to King TV’s New Day Northwest. Members of the Microsoft Alumni Foundation, along with Literacy Bridge staff and supporters, were in the studio audience when host Margaret Larson opened up the segment by calling Literacy Bridge’s Cliff Schmidt “…one our favorite guests.”  Thank you to Margaret Larson and the Microsoft Alumni Foundation, for making this TV appearance possible.

Microsoft Alumni Foundation Website

Featured news article on the Microsoft Alumni Foundation site –  Literacy Bridge founder honored to join Bill Clinton’s social- change task force by Monte Enbysk,a Microsoft alum (1999-2010) and a Bellevue-based editor and writer.

Literacy Bridge’s Founder and Executive Director Joins Clinton Global Initiative

September 10th, 2011

Literacy Bridge is pleased to announce that its founder and executive director, Cliff Schmidt, has been awarded a membership  by President Bill Clinton to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

Each year, CGI extends only a limited number of invitations to the heads of highly effective nonprofit organizations worldwide. Cliff is the only new Washington state non-profit executive awarded a complimentary CGI membership this year.

Membership includes attendance at the exclusive, invitation-only CGI Annual Meeting in New York City, September 20-22.  Cliff will  meet with heads of governments, foundations, corporations, and other nonprofit organizations to discuss Literacy Bridge’s work and the latest project to improve child and maternal health for 24,000 people across Ghana.  See Literacy Bridge’s September 8, 2011 Press Release for more information.

Literacy Bridge’s child and maternal health project will provide Talking Books to the most impoverished pregnant women and mothers of young children. The devices will be loaded with health behavior messages created in collaboration with Ghana Health Service and UNICEF; and will include agriculture messages to help mothers identify and improve their production of crops that are most nutritious for children under five years of age.  Simple messages, like handwashing with soap and proper sowing of seeds, will result in behavior changes that are life-saving and life-changing.  The project will show an extreme degree of transparency around the program costs to demonstrate to the world just how cost-effective the Talking Book is at improving health outcomes in a way that no organization has done before.

Follow Cliff on Facebook and Twitter throughout the CGI Annual Meeting 2011.


Former Microsoftie offers “Talking Book” solution to global illiteracy by Tom Paulson

September 10th, 2011

Here’s an excerpt from an article featured in KPLU’s Humanosphere by Tom Paulson, September 8, 2011

“Fighting disease or knowing how to improve agricultural productivity often involves long-term behavior change,” said Cliff Schmidt, founder of a Seattle-based organization called Literacy Bridge. Many humanitarian projects turn out to be unsustainable, Schmidt says, simply because those most EExcein need cannot read or follow written instructions.

Words, it turns out, can be just as important as vaccines, drugs or better seeds when it comes to helping the world’s poorest. Schmidt has created a device to get these valuable words out to the world’s poorest. It’s called the Talking Book.

Read the full article here.

August 2011 Events

September 1st, 2011

Literacy Bridge was featured in special interactive demonstration session at the USAID Global Workshop on Education and Development: From Evidence to Action, August 22-26, which focused on education through a number of means, including technology.  Literacy Bridge also participated in the International m4ED4Dev Symposium, August 18-19, which examined potential areas where mobile technology can help achieve education strategy goals with a particular focus in two core areas: literacy and on-demand access to materials, and improved education data for education system strengthening.

Debbi Winsten was Literacy Bridge’s representative at each event.  The following are her notes from each event.   

Sing along: A, B, C, D, EGRA*, IRI**, e4A, X, Y, Z .   There was no shortage of acronyms in a crowd with World Bank, UNESCO, academics, technology wizards and NGO at the International M4Ed4Dev Symposium.  “Mobiles for Education” include the Talking Book, of course, not just cellular or internet devices.  And “for Development” kept more than 125 participants focused on overcoming real world challenges in reaching billions of children and adults who don’t have formal education.  The keynote by USAID’s (Agency for International Development) charismatic and tech-savvy director, Rajiv Shah, addressed the 100 million kids who will learn to read in just three and a half years.  For example South Sudanese girls might have a chance to graduate from high school but in 2011, they are more likely to die in childbirth.  Shah spoke of leveraging education into the children’s homes with technology – and the Talking Book is a good example.  Seattle-ite and Chief Innovation Officer at USAID Maura O’Neill’s closed the symposium by urging organizations to focus on outcomes, and to define what success looks like for us and our partners. 

The following week, nearly 500 people at USAID’s Global Education Conference [2011 USAID Global Workshop on Education and Development: From Evidence to Action]  talked about Early Grade Reading Assessment* and Interactive Radio Instruction**.  Literacy Bridge was featured in a special interactive demonstration session the first day, as well as in the ICT Petting Zoo.  Our neighbors there were a Braille typewriter, an Intel tablet that remotely controls an alligator made of LEGO toys, eGranary and more.

Literacy Bridge Happenings in Seattle – May 2011

May 17th, 2011

Talking Book Assembly Party – May 21 and May 22

Like working with your hands? Come down and join us on Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22, 2011 to assemble Talking Books. No technical skills are needed.  The assembly is a fairly simple process, and takes place in our office at the Securities Building in downtown Seattle, 1904 Third Avenue, Suite 733, Seattle WA 98101. For those who are able to join us, feel free to bring your laptop and, if possible, a USB cable to help us load software onto the Talking Books as they “come off of the assembly lines.”

There are two four-hour assembly shifts on May 21 and May 22:  9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.  Those who are interested in staying for both shifts are certainly welcome to do so.  All those who have participated in past assembly parties have expressed how much they have thoroughly enjoyed their experience.

Literacy Bridge’s office is within easy walking distance from the bus routes or light rail.  For those who wish to drive, the Securities Building’s parking lot charges $7 on Saturdays. Please e-mail or call Doris,, 206.271.6186, to RSVP on or before May 19.

Be in the TV Audience on May 19

Join us on May 19 when Cliff and Simon Osei Agyemang, a Ghanaian chief and now-resident of Seattle, appear as guests on the popular one-hour lifestyle show New Day on KING TV. The audience and TV viewers will learn from Cliff the story behind Literacy Bridge and its work, and hear Simon’s first-hand accounts of Ghanaian life and the need for the Talking Book.

New Day host Margaret Larson is a 25-year veteran of broadcast journalism, most notably having worked with NBC News as a foreign correspondent, Today Show News anchor, correspondent for Dateline NBC, and anchor/reporter for NBC affiliate, KING-TV. She also served as Vice President of Communications of Mercy Corps, and as an independent contractor for international aid organizations, like World Vision, Global Partnerships, and PATH.

Anyone in the Seattle area who is interested in free tickets to the show should RSVP to You will need to arrive at King-TV, 333 Dexter Ave N (corner of Dexter and Harrison), Seattle WA 98101, no later than 9:30 a.m., and should expect to be there until 11:30 a.m. Be there to help us celebrate Literacy Bridge’s latest televised appearance!