Minnesota Volunteer Kevin Brown and Northfield Rotary Club Awarded Distinguished Kilimanjaro Society Honor

Books For Africa held its annual Ambassadors Circle reception on Thursday, June 27, at the University Club in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was the occasion to discuss Books For Africa’s successes over the past year, but also to recognize BFA supporters and volunteers with the distinguished Kilimanjaro Society Award. This prestigious award recognizes a top volunteer – Kevin Brown – and a top donor – the Northfield Rotary Club – to Books For Africa.

Volunteer Kevin Brown, a Twin Cities-based actor, won the volunteer award for his work loading e-books and MSD medical apps onto e-readers that are distributed to schools and medical providers across the continent – over 1 million e-books were sent by BFA in fiscal year 2024 alone.

Kevin shared a little about his background and what brought him to Books For Africa:

I first learned about Books For Africa through my participation in an annual charity event inspired by the hit reality television show "Survivor," called Live to Give MN. For this competition, we must choose a charity to support and raise money for, so I searched the internet to find organizations that resonated with me. When I discovered the BFA website, I instantly fell in love with their mission, principles, and their impact on making education more accessible to so many people.

I wanted to experience the incredible work Books For Africa does firsthand before participating in Live to Give, and volunteering at BFA has been a profoundly enriching experience. It has allowed me to contribute to a cause that is close to my heart—empowering communities through education. Knowing that our efforts are helping to provide students with the resources they need to succeed is truly inspiring and motivates me to continue supporting this vital mission. It also serves as a great reminder to never take for granted the access I have to an abundance of education and information.

The Northfield Rotary Club, meanwhile, won the award as a top 2024 donor to Books For Africa. Through Rotarian and BFA Board Member Charlie Cogan, it took a leading role last year to facilitate the shipment of five containers of books to South Sudan.  The club’s effort resulted in a consortium of Rotary clubs and other donors working together, in partnership with the Rotary district, to raise over $43,000 in funding.  This effort also leveraged support from the U.S. Department of Defense Funded Transportation program to assist in covering ocean freight charges.  The final result was the shipment of approximately 100,000 books valued at over $1.6 million, 11 computers loaded with 33,000 digital books, two new law libraries, and huge quantities of medical books to Juba, Sudan for distribution across South Sudan.  Among the collaborating partners in South Sudan were the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Rotary partners.

To read more about how you can support Books For Africa, check out our website, where you can donate funds, volunteer, and get involved!

You can also read more about the Northfield Rotary Club’s efforts in the Northfield News and on Carleton College’s website.