For 60 years, CODE, a Canadian based international development organization, has worked in partnership with local organizations to expand literacy in Africa, the Caribbean, and Canada by supporting the professional development of teachers and librarians, by providing children and youth with access to high-quality reading materials, and helping to strengthen the local book trade and national publishing capacities.
The CODE Burt Award is a literary award and readership initiative that recognizes excellence in locally authored literature for young adults, ages 12-18. The objective of the prize is to champion literacy, build language skills, and foster the love and habit of reading by ensuring that young people have access to high-quality, culturally relevant, and engaging reading materials. In 2008, CODE established the Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature with the generous support of Canadian philanthropist William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. First established in Tanzania, the program expanded to Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Canada, and the Caribbean.
William "Bill" Burt was a commodities broker until his retirement 20 years ago in his early forties. He still reads the newspapers carefully and pays attention to the markets. Fortunately for CODE and the cause of African literacy, he got interested in energy stocks and the price of oil several years ago and since then his investments have done quite well.
Mr. Burt has two grown sons. When not travelling he and his wife Judy divide their time between homes in Toronto, Midland, and his favourite place, a farm in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Mr. Burt has been in 41 countries, but Ethiopia was his first trip to Sub-Saharan Africa. In August 2009, He, along with Judy and two other family members, travelled to Tanzania to hand out the first prizes of the Burt Award for African Literature.
Bill Burt speaking to the Board of Directors and guests in attendance at CODE's Annual General Meeting in Ottawa, June 2011.