Forgive me for being skeptical, but rice for free?
I’ll admit it. I was a complete cynic too.
So I decided to actually visit the website and play the game. It started off fairly easy. ‘Effect’ means ‘result’…correct! ‘Teacher means ‘instructor’…correct! As I continued to get each answer right, I noticed the questions gradually getting harder and after 13 right answers, I finally got one wrong. It felt really nice to be sharpening my vocabulary skills – something I hadn’t touched on since finishing high school. It was then that I saw a banner mentioning my donation of 130 grains of rice – ten for each of my right answers as promised. Curious to find out how all this works, I dug deeper.
In 2007, John Breen launched a simple word game to help his sons prepare for their college entrance exams. Realizing the brain-teaser’s potential to help, Breen partnered up with the World Food Programme and turned the game into a ‘click to donate’ idea. For every right answer you would get while playing the vocabulary game, a new banner ad (paid for by corporate sponsors) is replaced at the bottom of the site – effectively raising enough money for 10 grains of rice. While it seems like a small amount, we should remember that thousands of people are playing the game at the same time.
After the launch of the site, it went completely viral, peaking at around 500,000 visitors a day and, according to theWFP, generated a staggering 40 billion grains of rice within its first 10 months. FreeRice won Yahoo!’s 2007 Charity Web Award and a year later Breen was recognized by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet andSociety for the game’s outstanding contribution to the Internet’s impact on society. Since then, the brain-teaser has raised enough rice to feed over 4.2 million people for a day in countries like Uganda and Bangladesh, with Pakistan being the latest destination following one of its worst disasters.
In March 2009, Breen donated the site to the UN World Food Programme. While doing so, he expressed his hopes that FreeRice will continue to grow, and that is exactly what has happened.
The WFP have recently launched the upgraded FreeRice 2.0 and it features the ability for players to sign up, join groups, view the top Rice rankings (players /groups) and even lets you log in via your Facebook and Twitter accounts. The game has also grown and can now be played in different categories (math, science, geography, art history and languages), and thanks to its popularity and generous sponsors, the WFP has doubled your donations to 20 grains per right answer.
To get an idea of the impact that FreeRice website is having, check out this video that was created by the World Food Programme:
So, free rice? Yes, FreeRice. Thanks to John Breen and his simple yet truly innovative idea, millions of people can now not only receive but can also give free rice.
If you’re inspired to give free rice and brush up on your vocabulary skills, visit FreeRice.com and play the game. If vocabulary isn’t your cup of tea, try donating through the different subjects available.
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