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Sabre Foundation: An Overview

Sabre Foundation was founded thirty years ago, in 1969, by a group of recent American university graduates, with the double aim of examining the philosophical underpinnings of free institutions and working to enhance their vitality. For the first half of its existence, the Foundation was involved in public policy projects on such subjects as expanded property ownership, a volunteer army, free trade and enterprise zones, and citizen empowerment at local levels.

Beginning in 1986, Sabre’s activities centered on the donation of new textbooks, reference books and other educational materials to needy individuals around the world - first in Central and Eastern Europe, expanding later to countries in the former Soviet Union, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. This program has been known as the Scientific Assistance Project, after the common East European practice of using "science" to refer to any disciplined branch of knowledge. By the end of 1998, some 3.8 million books, valued at more than $106 million, had been received from over 200 publisher donors for shipment to fifty countries.

Children at the "Honey Bee" Kindergarten in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, enjoy Early World of Learning books received from Sabre.

Through its overseas partnerships with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the book program, Sabre came to understand the need in countries in transition to take better advantage of electronic communication and information tools. This led to another initiative in the mid-1990s: Library and Information Technology Services. In this program, Sabre helps individuals improve their access to information resources and their ability to use these resources effectively. The Information Technology Workshops held in Sabre’s Cambridge office, catering to the needs of scholars, librarians, teachers, trainers, government officials, and NGO personnel, are the centerpiece of the program.

The philosophical concerns which inspired the creation of Sabre continue to lend the Foundation a distinctive character. Its intellectual programs, grouped under the Philosophy of Institutions Project, have encompassed conferences, publications and fellowships. Sabre’s intellectual programs were in fact the source of the book donation program, and the Foundation has not lost sight of the advantages of this two-pronged approach. As we look ahead, a Sabre-sponsored Internet site and related programs on free institutions can become a "place" of growing service and influence, with a reach augmented by Sabre’s international work in book donation and information technology training.

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