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William Burt, international literacy philanthropist, dies at 71

Bill Burt (burtaward.org)

William Burt, the philanthropist behind CODE’s Burt Awards, died on Oct. 16 from cancer.

A former commodities broker who continued to invest in the stock market, Burt retired in his early 40s, turning his attention toward literacy in Africa. In August 2009, he travelled to Tanzania to hand out the first Burt Award for Young Adult African Literature. The program has since expanded to Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Canada, and the Caribbean. In addition to cash prizes for winning authors and publishers, CODE also purchases a minimum of 2,500 copies of each book to donate to schools, libraries, community centres, and NGOs.

On Nov. 23, the winner of the Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature will be announced.