Higher education expenses are increasing at a rapid pace. Do you need help slowing that down? Having provided scholarships to booksellers since 2002, Binc can help!
As a former recipient, I have a strong connection to the Binc Foundation Higher Education Scholarship Program. I also am proud to say that a few of my (former) employees or their dependents have received a scholarship as well. I returned to grad school after vowing to “never write a paper again” at the end of my undergrad experience. The Foundation scholarship helped ease the pain of writing! I now give back to Binc in appreciation for the help of more than a decade ago. I am recently inspired by a former grant recipient who has generously donated back to Binc.
As an employer, I know that job satisfaction and retention can be improved by offering higher education assistance. Small business owners cannot afford to offer tuition assistance to their booksellers but the Binc Foundation scholarship can help. The program is administered by Scholarship America using a third-party process to evaluate applicants. Selection criteria include financial need, prior academic achievement and leadership. Eligibility includes current bookstore employees/owners and their dependents as well as former Borders Group employees and their dependents. The scholarship can be used for tuition, room & board, supplies or books.
Reading the thank you notes from previous scholarship winners at the committee meetings is enjoyed by the volunteers. It helps to put a personal feel to the help Binc gives. We love to hear that the Binc Foundation Higher Education Scholarship Program has helped. One recent scholarship recipient wrote:
“The past few years I’ve spent in bookselling have literally changed my life. I’m pursuing an MA and MFA in Children’s Literature because of all the books I fell in love with working at Brazos Bookstore! I wouldn’t know the person I want to be without bookselling, and I hope with my degree, and this award’s help, I can bring more fantastic books to our stores.”
– Liz Wright, Brazos Bookstore
Binc’s Scholarship Program opens January 16th
The 2017 Binc Foundation Scholarship program includes $10,000, $5,000 and $3,500 level awards and launches January 16, 2017! Please ensure that you’ve submitted your application by March 6, 2017.
Thanks and good luck!
– Christie Roehl, Binc board Secretary and Program Committee Chair
Individuals and stores can easily contribute directly to Binc, which has a 20 for 20 Challenge, encouraging donors to give at least $20 and make it a monthly, automatic deduction.
Helping Binc Help Booksellers
Several companies have helped Binc raise funds in various ways. At Books Inc., which has 11 stores in the San Francisco Bay area, employees can contribute to Binc through payroll deductions, which are matched by Books Inc. up to $100 per employee per year. Books Inc. director of operations Andy Perham noted that the deduction program was “super easy to set up through our payroll processor.”
Ken White originally brought Binc to the attention of Books Inc. managers. Perham remembered, “We were all immediately impressed by Binc’s mission and have been even more impressed in the subsequent years as we’ve seen what Binc is able to do both in providing financial assistance to booksellers experiencing a financial crisis and in the scholarships they are able to provide.”
Similarly, Sourcebooks partnered with Binc for its annual holiday drive: each time a Sourcebooks employee made a donation to Binc, the company matched that donation, and then one of Binc’s donation partners also matched the contribution. Sourcebooks national sales manager Heidi Weiland commented: “We were thrilled to participate, and based on the response we received in 2015, we will absolutely partner with Binc again in 2016. We can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together!”
Weiland noted that in working regularly with independent bookstores, “I have found it to be a universal truth that booksellers are constantly assisting their customers, community members, friends and family with issues outside the realm of books and reading, making a huge impact in their community. These same booksellers are often reluctant to ask for help when they are the ones in need of assistance. This is why Binc is so crucial. Whether they find out about a bookseller’s need through industry professionals, bookstore patrons or community leaders, Binc is there and ready to help.”
A Unique Way to Fund-raise For Binc
Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, Bellingham and Lynden, Wash., raised money in an unusual way: in a bike ride last year from Washington to Illinois for his 50th high school reunion, he decided to raise money for three communities important to him. One was his home community of Bellingham, the second the community in Illinois where he grew up, and the third was “my community of booksellers all across the country,” he said. “I took pledges for foundations that represent each of these communities, including Binc. By the beginning of November, Binc had collected more than $6,700 from those pledges.
He added: “Many of those dollars came from others in the bookselling and publishing communities, but many came from folks in Bellingham and elsewhere who value books, bookstores, and the people who work in them. I would urge everyone who shares those values to contribute in some way to Binc. I guarantee that you, too, will be happier.”
This post is a reprint of Binc’s dedicated Shelf Awareness Issue from March 30, 2016. To learn more about the Binc Foundation and how we help booksellers you can read the full article, here.
In 2014, Binc conducted a bookseller survey of the book industry and found that bookstore employees needed more and different services that we had previously offered. In response to that survey, we added a Matching Grants program as well as Homelessness Prevention and Utility Shut-off Prevention programs. Financial grants from those programs have helped many booksellers to stabilize their households and move forward knowing there is a safety net in place for them. So far in 2016, seven booksellers have benefitted from Matching Grants.
A Second Bookseller Survey
With the growth and change of both the bookselling industry and the Foundation, it is again time to hear from booksellers about what they want and need in an organization dedicated to helping them in times of financial hardship. Therefore, we are conducting a second industry survey intended at getting a better understanding of the current needs and experiences of the nation’s booksellers.
The survey will be accessible from September 6 to October 23 and will take about 5-7 minutes to complete. Participants will be eligible to win one of four (4) $50 American Express Gift Cards as a thank you for taking the time to complete the survey.
Please Help Spread the Word
Please take a moment to complete the survey to tell us how we can better support bookstore employees and their families in times of financial hardship. Also, please forward the survey to other book industry professionals you know so that they can respond as well. Everyone in the book industry is welcome to provide their feedback and take the survey.
Take the survey today at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Binc
Thank you for your input. The results of the survey will be released in January 2017.
We know the profit margin on books is slim. Our bookish world is teeming with smart, talented, independent people who could be making twice as much money somewhere else. But we don’t, because there’s something soul-less about selling stuff you don’t care about. We are purveyors of culture, and that’s as glamorous as being a movie star…minus, of course, the ball gowns and limousines.
So what happens when that glamorous but limousine-less bookseller runs into unexpected financial crisis? From, say, catastrophic hospital bills after a necessary procedure, or escaping an abusive domestic situation? If a bookseller has been living paycheck-to-paycheck, as many of us have done, there might not be much savings in the bank to pay that off. They may be forced into a situation where they have no resources to pay the bills and get back on their feet. That’s where Binc can lend a hand.
Binc Helps a Fellow Bookseller
I’ll give an example from one of my early experiences working with Binc. A bookseller (whose identity is known only by two people on staff) missed a few days of work due to a heart attack. Yes, a heart attack. And that bookseller, God bless ‘em, was already back at work a few days later. Between the medical bills and lost income, they were having trouble paying other important bills. Binc was able to step in, get their bills paid, and protect them from further hardship caused by the emergency. I’m proud of this bookseller who soldiered on, and I’m proud of Binc for helping a bookseller pay their bills during a rough spell.
In fact, Binc gave away nearly $55,000 in financial assistance grants in 2015. Binc also gave away over $220,000 in scholarship money for professional development and higher education, some of that for college tuition, and also a number of scholarships to book industry trade events.
No matter our background, there may come a day for any of us when we have to struggle to stay in the business we love. Sometimes a little help is all it takes to sustain a life in books. That’s why I love Binc; it’s the safety net for booksellers.
In our previous blog post, part of Binc’s dedicated issue in Shelf Awareness, our new Diversity Task Force Initiative was introduced. Thanks to the hard work of our Program Committee members, including Query Books founder Ken White, Binc is working to actively support diversity in the book industry. Here is a brief description from Ken on the direction and progress that the committee has made so far.
Binc has helped a variety of booksellers and their families help pay for higher education and provided key scholarship programs to booksellers attend industry events. Andrea Jones, who recently became co-owner of Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, Vt., was able to attend Winter Institute 11 in Denver because of “the generous scholarship from Binc,” she said. “During the week in Denver, I learned from other booksellers and industry professionals, but also from the wonderful representatives from Binc. It was really nice to hear that in this very exciting and rewarding world of bookselling, there are people dedicated to working to help others so they can continue to share great books and knowledge, support writers and publishers, support communities in the free exchange of ideas.”
Binc is thrilled to announce its 2016 Higher Education Scholarship winners! This year’s program awarded 27 scholarships, totaling $109,000, to eligible current bookstore employees/owners and their dependents as well as former Borders Group employees and their dependents. There were two (2) $10,000 scholarships, twenty-four (24) $3,500 scholarships, and one (1) $5,000 Karl Pohrt Memorial Scholarship – granted to an independent bookstore employee candidate who has overcome learning adversity or is a non-traditional student. The scholarships can be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies and room and board. Funds may also be used over consecutive years if the student is not able to use the entire award for the 2015-2016 academic year.
The accomplishments of the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation are striking: since its creation in 1996, Binc has given more than $5.9 million in scholarships and financial assistance grants to more than 6,900 bookstore employees and their dependents. But this is only the start: the Foundation continues to grow, spreading the word about its generous and beneficial work and expanding fundraising to ensure a sustainable future. As it looks ahead, it’s also considering ways to help more people in the book industry.
For more information on Binc’s financial assistance programs for booksellers, visit our Financial Assistance page.