Charity funded primarily by Borders Group employees before chain's demise changes name to Book Industry Charitable Foundation, expands mission to assisting book industry workers in need

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Michigan , February 13, 2012 () – A charity funded primarily by Borders Group Inc. employees before the bookselling chain's demise has changed its name and expanded its mission to assisting book industry workers nationwide in times of need.

The Borders Group Foundation's new name is the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, and the group has moved from Borders' former Ann Arbor headquarters to an office in Washtenaw County's Pittsfield Township, reported Monday.

"We now have become a startup in all essence," said Pamela French, executive director of the foundation, which was launched in 1996. The foundation, she said, has distributed more than $5 million in assistance since its inception has about $4 million in assets.

The foundation operated independently of Borders. It previously dedicated money to helping Borders employees who were having financial difficulties due to various circumstances such as job loss, medical problems, domestic violence or utility shutoff.

The foundation drew its primary funding from a voluntary Borders' employee payroll deduction. It would examine requests for help from store employees throughout the U.S. and corporate employees in Ann Arbor, then decide whether to assist with funding.

That program will continue through 2012. Meanwhile, the foundation decided to convert its mission in an effort to improve the lives of book industry employees throughout the country. The foundation also is considering partnering with other organizations for booksellers, French said.

In fall 2010, the foundation began planning for the possibility of Borders' demise and the foundation considered a number of options, including shutting down. Borders Group filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2011 and decided to liquidate in July.

Through 2007, Borders matched employee contributions to the foundation up to 50 percent on the dollar. The average employee contributed $4.35 a month. The group also raised money through other efforts, including an annual golf outing attended by publishers.

French, a veteran of Borders' Waldenbooks division, was director of employee development and communications for Borders before becoming executive director of the foundation in 2009. She said there is camaraderie among bookstore employees that should help the foundation continue its work.

"I don't think we would have chosen this path if we didn't believe in that," she said.

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