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Course Hero’s 44,000 Book Delivery to Gambia

 Course Hero Campus Director, Brandon Styles, will embark on a journey to the Gambia to deliver over 44,000 books to libraries in underserved communities.

IN FEBRUARY 2012, Course Hero Campus Director, Brandon Styles, will embark on a journey to the Gambia to deliver over 44,000 books to libraries in underserved communities. Brandon has been an instrumental member of Course Hero’s Campus Programs team which, in conjunction with hundreds of Student Leaders and thousands of student contributors around the country, has helped raise the necessary funds to make this donation possible.

Over the next few months, Brandon, an avid international adventurer and philanthropist, will be sharing stories from his travels and experiences on this blog and invites other interested contributors to do the same. But first, let’s learn a little more about him:

Who am I and why do I want to go to Africa?

Earlier this year, I was approached for an opportunity of a lifetime to work for an awesome start-up with funding and advisory from venture capitalists and angel investors including the founders of YouTubeStubHub and Google AdSenseI jumped at the chance, andso here I am today at Course Hero! As a Director of Campus Operations, I work with a team of 6 others who inspire me every day to work harder and motivate as many people as possible to contribute to the Knowledge Drive cause – along with the occasional Dance Central duel or Ping Pong tournament.

Ever since starting college at Cal Poly, I have always tried to marry my passion for international travel, business development, and community service. Doing door-to-door sales (which is a job that is guaranteed to make you cry, no matter how “manly” you perceive yourself to be) and personal training developed my communication and professional skills. I even worked as a fitness expo representative for MMA star Chuck Liddell so that I could take my business experience into the non-profit world – ie: Alzheimer’s Association, Special Olympics, Homelessness Awareness Week, etc.

I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to over 13 countries on four continents working with the World Bank’s development sector and volunteering at under-funded schools (Full disclosure: I was tagging along with my Dad while he taught irrigation modernization principles in impoverished districts.) After graduating I worked as a professional recruiter and volunteered with organizations supporting Breast Cancer and Leukemia research.

International philanthropy was an integral part of my upbringing, and I am especially excited to take this opportunity to travel to Africa, a continent I have not yet been to, to deliver these books—the results of thousands of hours of hard work and dedication from my team and our students—to eager learners. Books for Africa quotes that 40% of school-aged children in Africa do not attend school, and when they do, many classrooms only have one textbook for every 20 students. I am so proud that we have an opportunity to really make a difference in these students lives.

February 2012: Gambia Bound in the name of Education

In February of 2012, Course Hero will be embarking to Gambia on a 3-week mission with Books For Africa and Hand in Health to distribute over 44,000 books to children in need. As I said, one book is often shared between 15-20 students in the most impoverished provinces, so we are looking forward to making a huge impact on education with the help of our student leaders.

I fell in love with Course Hero’s mission to make a difference in the international educational climate through a strategic partnership that would allow me to build on all my past experience and passion for travel and philanthropy. That’s why I’m so excited about this trip. Even if I only play a small part in changing the opportunity window for one child in Gambia, the entire trip will be worth it.

What is the Knowledge Drive and why Africa? 

In my opinion, every truly inspiring company values philanthropy and sharing their success in a positive way. Few companies are fortunate enough to form a partnership with a charity that correlates directly with their industry and core values. In partnership with Books for Africa, the Knowledge Drive was founded upon one simple premise: With each set of academic documents a student (from anywhere in the world) contributes, one book will be donated.

This upcoming trip to Africa will serve as one of many steps in immortalizing our commitment to making a change in the current international education condition. We will be highlighting our most prominent student leaders and groups from various universities around the U.S. by marking the receiving libraries with our student leader’s names, photographs, and contact information. Our hopes are that the students in Gambia will one day be able to connect with their donors directly, and our student leaders will be able to “meet” the students that they have worked so hard to help.

How Can You Get Involved?

Between now and our trip to Africa in February, I will be contributing to this blog on a regular basis providing updates about the trip and also sharing some of my cool stories and experiences with international education. There will also be guest contributors that will be sharing their stories as well. I’d like to invite any of our Student Leaders or education enthusiasts to share their experiences abroad and what observations they noticed. 

Those interested in contributing their academic resources should visit the Knowledge Drive Homepage (https://www.coursehero.com/KnowledgeDrive/), while those interested in donating to our current project can visit the projects page (https://www.booksforafrica.org/donate/to-project.html?projectId=8).

What Is Course Hero?

Course Hero is an online learning platform where you can access course-specific study resources contributed by a community of students and educators.