Room to read annual report 2015
Journey to 10 million children and beyond

Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, we develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.

Letter from Erin Ganju

Dear Friends,

Last year, a student from Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program in Cambodia said confidently to our leadership team that, to her, “education was like oxygen.” My work with Room to Read has proven just how true that statement is — how when you nourish and encourage children’s desires to learn, they are less passive and instead actively seek brighter futures. Quality education is fundamental to how children determine their paths ahead, but unfortunately, far too many students around the world are denied even a basic education. This crucial need for quality education launched Room to Read on our journey toward world change 16 years ago, and the ongoing need is what keeps us working tirelessly to bring Literacy and Girls’ Education Programs to thousands of communities each year.

We have now supported more than 10 million children to pursue their dreams through education. That’s 10 million individual lives changed — happy, joyful readers exploring the world of books, and self-assured, courageous girls knocking down doors and breaking through glass ceilings. Look beyond these 10 million children and you’ll find further ripple effects of our work. You’ll find improvements in wider education systems, like in Vietnam, where we have trained teachers beyond the Room to Read network on how to effectively mentor girls in secondary school. Or in Nepal, where our literacy materials are being used as the basis for the country’s new Grade 1 and 2 literacy curriculum. You’ll also find an upswing of community support for children’s education, as parents witness their children forging new paths and reaching new heights.

While we are proud of everything we’ve accomplished to date, we are striving for so much more. There are still 250 million young children — 40 percent of the primary-school-age population globally — who cannot read or write. To expand our capacity and reach these children more rapidly, we are investing in technology systems that significantly improve our operational efficiency, and we are diversifying our revenue streams to ensure the scale and longevity of our work. We are also creating standardized program modules, drawn from the learnings of our teams around the world, so our field staff can deliver programs effectively and cost-efficiently. We have launched a new technical assistance arm, Room to Read Accelerator, to leverage these modules and support partners to adapt our programs for the underserved populations that we have yet to reach (see more about Accelerator on page 25).

As we continue on our journey beyond 10 million children and set our sights on new achievements, you have my promise that we will work hard every day to scale our impact in the best manner we can. Education is an essential need — just like oxygen. So we are committed to reaching at least five million additional children by 2020 directly through our programs while also training others to reach more. Together, we are driving closer to a world in which all children have the educational opportunities they need to thrive.

Room to Read has been able to set and exceed ambitious goals due to the generosity and partnership of our supporters around the world. For that, I will be forever grateful. I am humbled by the passion and dedication that you bring to our cause. I sincerely thank you for your transformative investments in changing the world through education.


Erin Ganju
Co-Founder and CEO

Read More
Letter from Scott Kapnick

Dear Friends,

I joined Room to Read’s board in 2008 because I had the opportunity and obligation to help children who did not have the same chances to succeed that I was fortunate to have been given. My parents instilled in me a love of learning, and I benefited from the teachers and educational institutions that helped me further my knowledge and make informed life choices. Now, as a parent of four children, three of them girls, I also know I cannot take for granted that young girls will have a fair shot at their chosen futures. I believe that all children, both girls and boys, deserve the same chances at success that I had, the same opportunities to invest in themselves and the world around them.

While I was initially drawn to Room to Read’s commitment to global education, my respect for the organization has greatly deepened over the last eight years. I have been enriched through learning about our programs and our passionate people — the staff, volunteers, supporters and partners who form our worldwide network. I am proud of the tremendous impact we’ve had — the 10 million children we’ve reached — and I am now honored to take on a new leadership role as Board Chair for this world-changing team.

During my chairmanship, we are focused on reaching an average of one million additional children every year. This type of growth ensures that governments take notice and recognize that high-quality programs can be delivered cost-effectively and at scale. In order to meet our goals, we need to aggressively take on the next set of challenges to further hone our core business operations and continue to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. We need to seek new, transformational opportunities that will allow us to rapidly grow our impact and meet the world’s immense educational need. I’m excited to build on the strategic direction we have adopted and propel us toward eradicating illiteracy in our lifetime!

Having built my career seeking the best investment opportunities, I am convinced that educating children is the single most promising investment we can make in the world’s future. This conclusion was never more obvious to me than during my recent trip to experience Room to Read’s work in Cambodia. All of the children I met could demonstrate the impact of the quality education they were receiving. Whether they were reading to learn about the world around them or articulating their life plans, all were clearly deserving of our support.

I am so very grateful to help lead such an energized, passionate network, and I thank you for all that you have done to get us this far. I also know we have a lot of work left to do, so I hope you will continue to join me on our ambitious journey to educate the world’s children.

Scott Kapnick
Board Chair

Read More
Reaching 10 Million

Last year marked a significant milestone for Room to Read: we reached our 10 millionth child through our Literacy and Girls’ Education Programs — five years ahead of our goal! When it comes to a child’s education, every year counts, and we work diligently to bring students across Asia and Africa transformational educational opportunities as rapidly as we can. By partnering with local communities, vigorously monitoring and evaluating our impact, and seeking ongoing program improvements, we strive to ensure that the students we reach are learning and thriving.

Literacy Program

Literacy is foundational for a child’s education and participation in a global society. By addressing gaps in local literacy curricula and educational resources, our Literacy Program supports students to become independent readers who enjoy reading regularly — setting the stage for future educational success.

literacy program results

Our impact on students’ reading skills

To track our impact on children’s literacy, we conduct reading skills assessments that measure the reading fluency of students in our program. In 2015, this included an evaluation in Sri Lanka, where we introduced the second year of our new Sinhala-language Literacy Program. We evaluated students’ reading skills at the end of the school year and found that children in our program could read 51 words per minute — 20 words more than students in similar non-program schools.

Over the course of our two-year literacy intervention, the reading-comprehension gains of children in our program were also 1.4 times greater than those made by students in comparison schools. These results indicate that our Literacy Program is having a large, positive impact on reading skills, and they validate our approach to providing reading materials and comprehensive professional development for teachers on literacy instruction.

Average Words Read per Minute by Students

We have tested more than 20,000 children as part of our reading skills evaluations. Across diverse contexts, these evaluations demonstrate that children in our Literacy Program schools read more fluently than children in nearby comparison schools.

These successes are remarkable when compared with similarly focused education interventions around the world. In a recent review of 75 evaluations of teacher-training programs in low-income countries, only two interventions were found to produce a moderate or large effect of the kind seen in nearly all Room to Read evaluations. Our results therefore demonstrate that overall our program is making an impact in challenging environments where success has often been elusive.

Girls' Education Program

The greatest gender inequalities in education tend to occur during secondary school. This is why our Girls’ Education Program supports girls throughout their secondary education to ensure that they graduate with the necessary skills to make informed, independent decisions about how to lead their lives.

Girls' Education Program Results

Getting to graduation: focus on national exams

In order to graduate from secondary school, girls in many of our program countries need to pass challenging national exams. Completing these tests represents a huge achievement in the communities where we work, as girls in our program are often the first in their families to take the exams.

Our staff are dedicated to preparing girls for these gatekeeping exams as they open the door to new possibilities, including pursuing a university education. Throughout our program, girls are encouraged to engage in their studies, and some participants receive individualized support if their grades or attendance begin to drop. In 2015, this work paid off as hundreds of girls celebrated passing their exams!

  • In Bangladesh, 94 percent of girls in our program passed their final school exams — surpassing the national pass rate of 87 percent.
  • In Sri Lanka, 74 percent of girls in our program passed the highly competitive advanced level exam that qualifies them for application to universities — far exceeding the national pass rate of 61 percent.
  • In Vietnam, 94 percent of girls in our program passed the national exam. More than half of those girls went on to pursue a tertiary education.

Where are our graduates now?

In 2015, we surveyed recent graduates to see what they are doing post-graduation. Whether it be tertiary education, a career or deciding to start a family, we are thrilled to see our alumnae following paths of their own choosing.

Strengthening our program: risk assessment pilot

Each girl in our program has a unique journey and set of educational challenges. To identify the girls most at risk of dropping out of school and to provide them with extra support, we developed an early warning system, which we piloted in Tanzania in 2015. Through the pilot, our staff tracked a set of four risk factors among our program participants: missing school, failing an exam, missing life skills sessions and parents missing family meetings.

The results were striking: Girls who showed one or more of these risk factors were more than four times as likely to drop out of school as those who showed none. Parent meeting attendance and school attendance were especially predictive of a girl’s dropout risk.

Being able to predict which girls are most likely to drop out raises our ability to intervene earlier with targeted support. Findings from the pilot in Tanzania are now informing the development of a global risk-tracking system, which we will roll out worldwide in 2016.

Earthquake recovery efforts in nepal

Since 2000, we've built or repaired more than 1,100 school buildings and established 3,800 libraries in Nepal, benefiting nearly 2.7 million children. After the 2015 earthquakes, we moved quickly to partner with the Nepal government and lead recovery efforts for the decimated education sector.

Nepal is the country of Room to Read’s birth, and the Nepalese people have been close to my heart for the past 16 years.

Like so many of our supporters, I was saddened beyond description at the devastation of the earthquakes and immediately wondered what I could do to help. As usual, our team was one step ahead of me. Within 24 hours we had launched the Nepal Education Fund and begun outreach efforts to ensure that the country’s students would be able to return to school safely.

Our global team moved rapidly on two parallel tracks. In Nepal, we hired professional psychologists to train our staff in psychosocial support techniques so we could better serve teachers and children who were emotionally affected by the event. In the months after the earthquake, we also distributed nearly 500,000 Room to Read-published books to temporary learning centers throughout Nepal so children could continue practicing their reading skills. Simultaneously, our worldwide development teams, volunteers, boards and chapters leapt into action to raise funds for rebuilding and repairing classrooms and libraries.

In July 2015, I had the honor of visiting the affected communities and rallying support to meet their needs. While witnessing the damage firsthand was heartbreaking, my interactions with our students, staff and partners reminded me of the resilience of the Nepalese people and their unwavering belief in the power of education to move the nation forward.

One particular memory that stuck with me was my visit with a group of students from our Girls’ Education Program in Sankhu, a district in the distant outskirts of Kathmandu Valley. Although the girls had lost their homes, they eagerly showed up for school every day. As each girl told me her story, there was little focus on the recent destruction. They instead talked about their dreams: to attend university, to study abroad, to be a nurse. The girls awed me with their ability to look past the challenges presented by the recent natural disaster — along with the normal challenges of adolescence — and focus on moving toward a brighter future.

I repeatedly encountered this sense of optimism throughout my trip. Amid the tragedy, there was hope and passionate dedication to rebuilding the country as well. Inspired by this, I left Nepal energized and more committed than ever to doing what Room to Read does best: getting children the quality education they deserve.

Thankfully, our global network came together and raised significant support for Nepal. As a result, we will be reconstructing more than 700 classrooms in 62 earthquake-damaged schools in the heavily impacted districts of Nuwakot and Dhading. Our teams have completed all preconstruction activities for this work — including hiring project engineers, determining construction plans and costs, and requesting government approval for school designs — and construction has already begun at some of the schools. We also held community orientation meetings to ensure that communities are informed and engaged from the very beginning of the construction process.

We are grateful that our global network continues to stand in solidarity with Nepal. As we have since day one of Room to Read’s existence, we are committed to helping the nation’s children to embrace a better future through the lifelong gift of education and literacy.

With warmest regards,

John Wood
Founder, Room to Read

Read More
Beyond 10 Million

Since our founding in 2000, Room to Read has developed effective, research-based and globally adaptable approaches to improving early grade literacy learning and gender equality in education. We are extremely proud of the significant impact our Literacy and Girls’ Education Programs have had during this time, but we know there are millions more children who need our help. To reach these children with quality programs as quickly as possible, we work with communities, partner organizations and governments to share our learnings and exponentially scale our impact, far beyond our program schools.

Building lifelong readers, at scale
  • Early readers need effective teachers and access to quality reading materials to develop literacy skills and a lifelong habit and love of reading. Our Literacy Program ensures that primary school students have the instruction, resources and learning spaces they need in order to build a strong foundation in literacy.

    Through years of research, evaluation and refinement, we have built proven, data-driven literacy interventions that can be contextualized and replicated around the world. To build on this success, we seek opportunities to share our learnings and impact educational policies and initiatives. Our long-term goal is to help governments adopt educational solutions that will eradicate illiteracy from their countries.

  • Developing foundational literacy skills

    Replacing Early-Grade Textbooks


    During our 11 years of work in Laos, we have had great success improving primary school students’ literacy skills. Students in our Laos Literacy Program can read three and a half times as many words per minute as their peers in non-program schools. Impressed by this impact, the national Laotian government invited us to use our Grade 1 and 2 literacy textbooks in place of the standard government textbooks in 46 schools in Savannakhet. The results of this pilot are being closely monitored, and may be used to inform the development of new national textbooks in the future.

    Influencing National Curriculum and Policy


    Nepal became our first country of operation in 2000 with a simple delivery of books for a school library. Since then, we have built a holistic Literacy Program and strong ties with the Nepalese government. In 2015, we collaborated with Nepal’s Department of Education to review and identify gaps in the country’s national literacy education policies. As a result of this process, our literacy instruction materials will serve as the basis for the country’s new National Early Grade Reading Program curriculum for Grade 1 and 2 students — benefiting millions of children across the country.

    Scaling Instruction Interventions at Government Schools


    Room to Read began piloting literacy instruction activities in India in 2008. These activities are now a core component of our Literacy Program, and Grade 2 students in our India program can read three times as many words per minute as their peers in non-program schools. Recognizing this achievement, the state governments of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh invited us to implement our early grade literacy instruction work at scale for five academic years. In 2015, we began a pilot project in 360 primary schools across the two states, and are working to build the states’ systemic capabilities so they can implement effective literacy interventions independently in the future.

  • Spreading a habit of reading

    Promoting a Teacher’s Role in Building Reading Habits


    We launched our work in Bangladesh in 2008. To share our learnings from the past eight years and build support for our programs, we regularly seek opportunities to meet with key influencers in the country’s education sector. In 2015, this included presenting at the Bangladesh Literacy Association’s 4th National Conference of Teachers. The two-day event, held in Dhaka, was attended by top education officials, including Bangladesh’s education minister. Through our presentation, we promoted the role teachers play in developing literacy skills and a habit of reading, as well as the fundamental role literacy plays throughout a child’s education.

    Campaign to Expand School Libraries Nationally

    South africa

    Room to Read has worked to improve literacy learning in South Africa since 2006. During this time, we have built strong ties with the South African government, and in 2015 we were invited to participate in a forum hosted by South Africa’s Department of Basic Education. The goal of the forum was to plan for a new campaign that will promote reading and the expansion of library information services throughout the country, including establishing or refurbishing 1,000 school libraries annually.

    Improving Libraries and Library Activities Countrywide


    Vietnam became our second country of operation in 2001. We have worked to improve the country’s school libraries since then, and in 2015 we succeeded in influencing Vietnam’s national education policy. In December, we signed an agreement with Vietnam’s Ministry of Education that launched a new “Friendly Primary School Library Program” in government primary schools nationwide. The program will use our librarian training model, establishment practices and library period curriculum to help students across the country build a habit of reading.

Empowering Generations of Girls
  • Girls in low-income countries face significant challenges along their educational journeys. Our Girls’ Education Program ensures that girls complete secondary school with the skills to negotiate key life decisions.

    Our program reinforces girls’ commitment to their own education, and increases support for them among their parents, teachers and communities. We also develop girls’ essential life skills such as self-confidence, decision-making and relationship building. By putting data at the heart of our programming, we ensure that our program is efficient with high impact. In order for girls everywhere to have the support they need to graduate, we advocate for social and educational change at the local and national levels. We also collaborate with governments and organizations to demonstrate what works in girls’ education.

  • Advocating for girls’ rights

    Summit to End Child Marriage


    More than 700 million women alive today were married by the age of 18. The majority of child marriages occur in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where they pose severe challenges to girls’ continuing education. In addition to working directly with girls and families to prevent early marriages, we also work to change social norms more broadly around girls’ education and marriage. Last year, we participated in the first African Union summit on ending child marriage. The summit, which was held in Zambia, was attended by members of national ministries and thought leaders working to advance girls’ rights across the continent. During the event, our team members shared our experiences and best practices from our Girls’ Education Program and helped draft a strategic plan for ending child marriage in Zambia.

    Community Advocacy through Acting


    Bangladesh has one of the highest early marriage rates in the world. About 66% of girls marry by the age of 18, and over one-third of girls are married by the age of 15. This illegal but common practice often leads to girls dropping out of school. To combat this trend, students from our program in Bangladesh organized a series of performances to advocate for prioritizing girls’ education over early marriage. Girls from six schools across Rajshahi performed a drama called Ichchha, which means wish or desire, for their peers, families, community members and government officials to build support for keeping girls in school and delaying marriage until adulthood.

    Collaborating to Advance Gender Equality in Education


    The challenges facing girls’ education in low-income countries are numerous: economic barriers, social customs and pressures, lack of access to quality education and more. To comprehensively address these challenges on a wide scale in India, we organized a one-day consultation called “Adolescent Girls in India: Issues of Gender Equality, Life Skills and School.” The event, which was held in New Delhi, brought together leading national and international nonprofits working in India to share best practices in supporting and advocating for adolescent girls’ rights, particularly in relation to education. The consultation also focused on how to scale effective interventions across the country and maximize our collective impact.

  • Sharing Our Learnings

    Integrating Life Skills into Standard School Curriculum


    One of the key components of our Girls’ Education Program is our life skills curriculum. In Cambodia, we currently provide life skills education outside of the normal school day, but we are working to integrate our lessons into standard school curriculum. In pursuit of this goal, we partnered with secondary schools in Prey Veng and Kampong Cham last year to train teachers on our life skills education. Provincial and district officials in Kampong Cham then gave those teachers permission to conduct life skills sessions for girls during the school day with minimal support from our staff. We are now using this success to advocate for additional integration of life skills education into the national secondary school curriculum.

    Spreading Best Practices in Mentoring


    Girls in low-income communities often lack positive role models who can help guide and support them in their pursuit of an education. We address this challenge by providing our Girls’ Education Program participants with social mobilizers who act as mentors and advocates for the girls. Over the years, we have built strong models for how to effectively provide mentoring support, and last year the Vinh Long Department of Education asked our Vietnam team to organize two workshops to share our learnings in this area. The workshops were attended by 150 teachers who are in charge of student services at 120 secondary schools across Vinh Long. The attendees, who work at non-Room to Read schools, learned about the role mentoring plays in girls’ development, as well as various activities for engaging and supporting their students.

Beyond direct implementation:
Room to read accelerator

Room to Read currently operates in 10 countries in Asia and Africa. While we are continuing to expand our direct operations in these countries, there are millions more children we want to reach with our programs.

To complement our direct in-country work and rapidly scale our reach around the world, we have launched a technical assistance arm called Room to Read Accelerator. This new unit enables organizations and governments to leverage our proven literacy and girls’ education interventions by contextualizing our trainings and content for broader use in many regions — with consideration for local cultures, languages and educational practices.


We launched our first Accelerator project in Indonesia in 2014. This two-year partnership brought together five nonprofits and two private-sector publishers to establish school libraries and publish children’s books in Bahasa Indonesia (the national language). Although Indonesia has a relatively high literacy rate as defined by the United Nations, reading proficiency varies dramatically across the country, particularly in remote regions. There is also a severe shortage of local-language children’s books, which prevents children from being able to build a strong habit of reading.

With these issues in mind, we worked with our partner organizations to develop easily replicable solutions that could be spread across the country. Together, we created guidelines for establishing school libraries, teacher training workshops and materials, and a new book-leveling system based on reading skill rather than grade level. Our partners used these resources in 2015 to produce 25 new children’s titles and establish 24 libraries in three districts across the country. Forty thousand books were also distributed across these libraries using new “Ideal Book Collection” guidelines.

More than 8,300 children benefited from these activities in 2015, and Indonesia’s Ministry of Education is also using the children’s books published through the project in a national “15-Minute Reading Campaign” that urges students to spend at least 15 minutes a day reading as a way of promoting reading for fun outside of school. The ministry has been hosting read-aloud activities across the country and is using the new books to engage children during the events.


Grenada, an island country in the Eastern Caribbean, is one of many countries around the world facing challenges in raising child literacy rates. The country has taken steps to make improvements over the past four decades, but education at the primary school level still suffers from inadequate teacher training and a lack of educational materials.

To address these challenges, in 2015 we began a three-year partnership with Grenada’s Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and Grenada Schools Inc., a local nonprofit, to improve early grade literacy. The goal of the project is to design a wide-reaching, cost-effective and sustainable program that builds foundational literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school students. The project will impact all 57 of Grenada's government primary schools by improving the country's Grade 1 literacy curriculum and establishing a library at each school. The project will also build the capacity of local authors and illustrators to create quality low-cost children’s titles in-country and publish six original children’s titles.

The partnership will impact an estimated 11,000 students by 2018 and thousands more will benefit in the future as new generations of students enter the school system.

Global Engagement

Tackling illiteracy and gender inequality in education requires the support of a global community. In 2015, we sought to grow our international movement by launching conversations and major media initiatives about the importance of education. These efforts, along with the backing of our extraordinary volunteer chapter network, inspired vital support for our work.

2015 engagement by the numbers
Room to read in the media
First Ladies Visit Our Girls’ Education Program

As a part of her Let Girls Learn initiative, First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama visited Cambodia in March 2015.

During her trip, she joined First Lady of Cambodia Bun Rany in visiting some of the incredible achievers in our Girls’ Education Program. The First Ladies met with a group of girls who were about to graduate from secondary school, a milestone very few people in their village have reached.

The girls shared their stories, and the First Ladies learned more about how community-driven solutions like Room to Read are turning the tide against gender inequality in education. At the end of the visit, Mrs. Obama said to our students, “You all are role models to the world. There are going to be young girls that watch this and they’re going to think, I can do the same thing. They’re going to say to themselves, ‘I have a voice, I have a brain, and I’m going to use it.’ ”

Giving thanks to education

In recognition of reaching our 10 millionth child, we asked our students, teachers, staff and investors from around the world how education has shaped their lives. We collected their personal messages of gratitude as part of our #ThankstoEducation campaign. Here are some of the more than 700 stories we received:

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Thanks to Education, I can stand for what I believe is mine and what I deserve. I am dreaming big to attain the goals of my life.”
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Thanks to Education, my father once crossed the boundary of his remote village. Now I can dream of crossing the boundary of my state and dream my children will cross the boundary of the globe.”
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Hong Kong
Thanks to Education, I can see my world…and a zillion others.”
Hong Kong
Kacheta, Zambia
Thanks to Education, I can practically do almost anything I want to do — except fly a plane!”
Kacheta, Zambia
New York, USA
Thanks to Education, I am confident enough to take risks because I know even if I fail, my education will always open doors.”
New York, USA
Rajasthan, India
Thanks to Education, I have the opportunity to read instead of grazing buffaloes.”
Rajasthan, India
Vancouver, Canada
Thanks to Education, I live the life I want.”
Vancouver, Canada
Organizational Funders

Corporate, foundation and government funders play a critical role in scaling our impact on children’s literacy and girls’ education around the world. In 2015, these partners provided 44 percent of our total support through cash donations and targeted in-kind gifts. They also raised awareness for our mission through their influential networks.

Artha Capital enables the development and enhancement of projects critical to Room to Read’s mission of transforming the lives of children, through programs focused on literacy and gender equality in education. Artha Capital has invested US$4.6 million in core support for Room to Read, which has allowed the organization to expand its footprint and meet its ambitious goal of reaching 10 million children by 2015.
Atlassian has donated more than US$5 million toward Room to Read's programs in Asia. In 2015, Atlassian was the largest investor in our Girls' Education Program in Cambodia and the largest corporate investor globally. Almost half of Atlassian’s staff also supports Room to Read through its $1/day program.
Through donations from generous BURGER KING® employees, franchises and restaurant guests in select areas in Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as donations directly from the BURGER KING McLAMORE℠ Foundation, the BURGER KING® system is supporting more than 69,000 students through Room to Read's Literacy Program in Cambodia, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
Founded in 1952, Caterpillar’s philanthropic organization, the Caterpillar Foundation, is focused on making sustainable progress possible around the world by providing support in the areas of environmental sustainability, access to education and basic human needs. The Caterpillar Foundation has provided crucial support for our work since 2009. Through a three-year grant, the foundation has supported our Literacy and Girls’ Education Programs in India and South Africa, including the establishment of more than 90 libraries. This grant has benefited more than 25,000 children.
Citi partnered with Room to Read in 2015 through its e for Education initiative, an effort to raise funds for education-related nonprofits around the world. From October to December 2015, Citi donated US$1 for every US$1 million of notional volume traded on Citi Velocity, its award-winning institutional foreign exchange trading platform. More than US$400,000 was raised for Room to Read in 2015, bringing Citi’s total support for Room to Read to over US$1.65 million in the 2013–2015 period.
Credit Suisse is one of Room to Read's largest corporate funders, supporting both our Literacy and Girls' Education Programs and several key strategic projects, including the development of our 2015–2019 strategic plan and the launch of Room to Read Accelerator. Credit Suisse also donates office space for Room to Read staff in Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo, and provides capacity-building to country teams on a broad range of topics through its Global Citizens Program.
Echidna Giving supports Room to Read’s programs in Asia and Africa with an emphasis on our Girls’ Education Program. In 2015, Echidna Giving invested in our Literacy and Girls’ Education Programs and 2015–2019 strategic plan goals. Echidna Giving is a leading thought partner for Room to Read in innovation, analysis, learning and system change.
The Fossil Foundation, committed to unleashing the potential of underserved young people, supported our Literacy Program in India to ensure children have the instruction and resources they need to become fluent readers. This grant launched our Literacy Program at 310 schools in the states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
Through Goldman Sachs and Goldman Sachs Gives, the company and its senior executives have contributed more than US$18 million cumulatively — and over US$3 million in 2015 — to Room to Read. In 2015, Goldman Sachs supported a wide range of Literacy and Girls' Education Programs for children across Asia and Africa.
The Lee Foundation is Singapore's largest and oldest private charitable foundation, with a majority of its funding going toward education. With a generous grant of US$350,000 in 2015, the Lee Foundation became the first family foundation in Singapore to invest significantly in Room to Read’s work. This grant provided critical support to our Girls’ Education Program across Asia, benefiting 1,350 girls in our program.
Townsend Press, an independent publisher of acclaimed educational materials for students in grade school through college, has a dual mission: to create high-quality, reasonably priced electronic and print publications that help students learn the language and reading skills needed for success and to promote reading by publishing a library of compelling US$2 paperbacks, sponsoring scholarship contests and donating books to schools and community organizations. As a Room to Read partner since 2007, Townsend Press has funded core operating and program support for local-language book publication, library development and our Girls' Education Program.
The UBS Optimus Foundation supported Room to Read's post-earthquake recovery efforts in Nepal through a US$1.1 million grant to rebuild schools in Nuwakot and implement our Literacy and Girls' Education Programs throughout the country. This funding is part of the UBS Optimus Emergency Response funding that includes post-emergency children's education as a crucial intervention.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through a McGovern-Dole Food for Education award to Catholic Relief Services, is supporting Room to Read's literacy efforts in Laos through the establishment of 70 libraries, provision of 49,000 books to these libraries and the implementation of literacy instruction activities in 26 schools.
top organizational funders (1/1/2015 – 12/31/2015)
$500,000 and More
  • Atlassian Foundation
  • BURGER KING McLAMORE℠ Foundation
  • Credit Suisse
  • Echidna Giving
  • Goldman Sachs
  • UBS Optimus Foundation
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture through an award to Catholic Relief Services
$250,000 ‒ $499,999
  • Artha Capital
  • Butters Foundation
  • Caerus Foundation, Inc.
  • Caterpillar Foundation
  • Citi
  • Fossil Foundation
  • Lee Foundation
  • Townsend Press
$100,000 ‒ $249,999
  • The Brin Wojcicki Foundation
  • Charities Aid Foundation India
  • Four Acre Trust
  • GlobalGiving Foundation
  • Google
  • Happy Hearts Fund
  • Hilton Worldwide
  • InMaat Foundation
  • Jersey Overseas Aid Commission
  • Kendeda Fund
  • Myriad Asset Management
  • PepsiCo Foundation
  • Reliable Source Industrial Company (RSI)
  • Sensato Investors
  • Tatcha
  • TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation
  • The Tudor Foundation, Inc.
  • United Way Worldwide on behalf of the generosity of Target Foundation
$50,000 ‒ $99,999
  • 207, Inc.
  • Anglo American Chairman's Fund
  • Asia Alternatives
  • Bank of America – BA Continuum
  • India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Better World Books
  • Biogen International GmbH
  • Centre for Micro Finance
  • Dining Concepts
  • Dodge & Cox
  • Dow Jones & Company
  • DT Group of Companies
  • Eureka Benevolent Foundation
  • Green Leaves Education Foundation
  • The Hoglund Foundation
  • HSBC Bank
  • Microsoft
  • Monsanto Fund
  • Navitas Education Trust
  • Nuix Pty. Ltd.
  • Samsung Asia Pte.
  • Select Equity Group Foundation
  • The SJS Charitable Trust
  • T. Rowe Price Foundation
  • Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.
  • United States Agency for International Development
  • USAID India
  • Wells Fargo
  • Whitehaven Coal
  • Z Zurich Foundation
In-Kind Donors
  • Autodesk
  • Book Enterprises
  • Books for Africa
  • Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Credit Suisse
  • Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt. Ltd. (McDonald's India — West & South)
  • Hilton Worldwide
  • Ketchum
  • Moët Hennessy
  • Reliance Capital
  • Scholastic
Our Financial Foundation

Room to Read depends on the generosity of global investors to make our life-changing work possible. We deeply value their partnership and hold ourselves to the utmost levels of fiscal transparency and accountability so they can be sure that their funding is leveraged for maximum impact. This approach, combined with a commitment to consistently measuring and reporting on our results, allows stakeholders to trust that every dollar, pound, rupee and yen is used to provide the greatest benefit for the communities we serve.

Financial Highlights

Financial Highlights

Statement of Activities

For the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014 (USD).

Support and Revenue: 2015 2014
Corporations $12,536,347 $11,214,658
Foundations $4,172,714 $2,557,406
Individuals $27,360,176 $27,301,694
School and Other $490,534 $1,043,486
Total Donations $44,559,771 $42,117,244
Grant Revenue $708,398 $813,544
Donations In-Kind $4,234,999 $9,922,253
Investment and Other Income (Loss), Special Event Expenses, Fees $(609,980) $(12,233)
Total Support and Revenue $48,893,188 $52,840,808
Operating Expenses: 2015 2014
Program Services
Literacy $8,862,628 $6,273,670
Girls' Education $2,581,086 $2,993,874
School Infrastructure* N/A $3,484,529
Donated Books and Supplies $2,671,175 $8,587,695
Conferences, Travel and Meeting Expenses $2,170,957 $1,852,692
Information Technology Expenses $1,177,976 $891,446
Monitoring & Evaluation $94,869 $322,566
Professional Fees $3,024,024 $1,192,894
Program Operating Expenses $2,499,585 $2,114,252
Program Personnel Expenses $17,391,874 $15,223,265
Total Program Services $40,474,174 $42,936,883
Management and General $2,375,379 $2,703,003
Fundraising $5,486,462 $6,040,120
Total Operating Expenses $48,336,015 $51,680,006
Translation Adjustments - $(33,913)
Change in Unrestricted Net Assets $1,561,771 $3,400,452
Change in Temporarily Restricted Net Assets $(1,451,374) $(2,273,563)
Unrestricted Net Assets at Beginning of the Year $4,088,941 $688,489
Temporarily Restricted Net Assets at Beginning of the Year $16,883,133 $19,156,696
Net Assets at End of the Year $21,082,471 $20,972,074

Room to Read’s financial statements have been audited by independent certified public accountants and are available on our website.

* School infrastructure services have been aligned to augment Room to Read's Literacy and Girls' Education Programs so that students at our program schools have safe and child-friendly learning environments. As such, infrastructure costs are now incorporated into Literacy or Girls’ Education Program planning and are reflected under the associated program, rather than as a standalone service.

Boards & Staff
Boards & Staff

Board of Directors

  • Scott Kapnick (Board Chair), CEO, HPS Investment Partners, LLC
  • Yusuf Alireza, Former CEO, Noble Group
  • Craig Bruya, Former CFO, Microsoft Business Solutions
  • Mary Byron, Former Partner, Goldman Sachs
  • Luis Crouch, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, International Development Group, RTI
  • Erin Ganju, Co-Founder and CEO, Room to Read
  • Jerry del Missier, Executive Chairman, Copper Street Capital
  • Kim Anstatt Morton, Advisory Board member, Girl Rising
  • John Ridding, CEO, Financial Times Group
  • Frank van Veenendaal, Former Executive Vice President, Salesforce
  • Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube
  • John Wood, Founder, Room to Read

Emeritus Board

  • Hilary Valentine (Board Chair) Partner, Black & White Design
  • Chris Beer, Founding Member, Ironmark Law Group
  • Peter T. Grauer, Chairman, Bloomberg Inc.
  • Tim Koogle, Former CEO and Chair, Yahoo!
  • Alastair Mactaggart, President, Emerald Fund
  • Fernando Reimers, Director of Global Education and International Education Policy, Harvard University
  • Muneer Satter, Chair, Satter Investment Management
  • Jenny Shilling Stein, Co-Founder and Senior Advisor, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

Regional Boards


  • Yusuf Alireza and Dina Khreino-Alireza
  • Damien and Rebecca Brosnan
  • Kevin Burke
  • Ben and Asami Ferguson
  • Neil Harvey
  • Carl Huttenlocher and Tamiko M. Lippit
  • John and Camilla Lindfors
  • Alan and Christine Miyasaki
  • Dieter Turowski and Laura Howard
  • Zoltan and Tamara Varga


  • Steve and Carrie Bellotti
  • Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes
  • Charles and Maile Carnegie
  • Brett and Zahra Godfrey
  • Andrew and Emma Gray
  • John and Nicolle Keith
  • David Torrible and Donna Yip
  • Mike and Cynthia Whelan


  • Mary Byron
  • Peter T. Grauer
  • Sonny Kalsi
  • Scott Kapnick
  • Jaideep Khanna
  • Stephen King
  • Caryn Leventhal
  • John and Dudley Macfarlane
  • Aaron Nieman
  • Graves and Colleen Tompkins
  • Eric and Shauna Varvel


  • Andrew Balls and Erica Wax
  • Marisa Drew
  • Doug Henderson
  • Elio and Maria Leoni-Sceti
  • Scott Mead
  • Jerry and Jane del Missier
  • Patrick and Benedicte de Nonneville
  • John Ridding
  • Stuart and Joanna Riley
  • Randy Work

Leadership Team


  • Erin Ganju, Co-Founder and CEO
  • Lynn Foden, Chief of International Operations
  • Shari Freedman, Chief Financial Officer
  • Rebecca Hankin, Vice President of Marketing and Communications
  • Cory Heyman, Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Director, Room to Read Accelerator
  • Geetha Murali, Chief Development Officer
  • Heather Simpson, Chief Program Officer
  • Pierre Towns, Chief Talent Officer


  • Sourav Banerjee, India Country Director
  • Philip Christensen, South Africa Country Director
  • Shevanthi Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka Country Director
  • Kall Kann, Cambodia Country Director
  • Tien Phong Le, Vietnam Country Director
  • Udaya Manandhar, Nepal Country Director
  • Russel Mushanga, Zambia Country Director
  • Peter Mwakabwale, Tanzania Country Director
  • Geoffrey Odaga, Associate Director, Africa
  • Rakhi Sarkar, Bangladesh Country Director
  • Christie Scott, Director, Asia
  • Dinesh Shrestha, Co-Founder and Director of Field Operations
  • Norkham Souphanouvong, Laos Country Director

List Current as of 6/30/2016

Technology Advisory Committee

We launched a special advisory committee in 2015 to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our work by developing global information technology strategies and forging key partnerships. In 2015, this committee assisted in planning and deploying several technology solutions, including a new accounting system and customer relationship management database. These new systems have transformed our operations, and we would like to thank the committee for its invaluable guidance on these initiatives.

  • James Arnett, Partner, Capco
  • Alex Belous, Education Portfolio Manager, The Cisco Foundation
  • Mary Byron, Former Partner, Goldman Sachs
  • Dustin Frazier, Independent Consultant
  • Matthew Glotzbach, CEO, Quizlet, Inc.
  • Andrea Leszek, Vice President of Technology Services, Salesforce
  • Ambarish Malpani, Vice President of Engineering, Edmodo
  • Vibhu Mittal, CEO, Edmodo
  • Brett Robson, IT Workplace Engineering Manager, Atlassian
  • Frank van Veenendaal, Former Executive Vice President, Salesforce
  • Tim Wood, Senior Program Manager, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

A special thank-you

One of Room to Read’s greatest strengths is our leadership and the depth of expertise and passion these individuals bring to our mission. We benefit immensely from their wisdom and talent, so we would like to extend our gratitude to three long-term leaders who have fulfilled their commitments on our Board of Directors: Peter Grauer, Tim Koogle and Fernando Reimers. Collectively, they have contributed 17 years of service to our Board and were key in growing Room to Read into the organization we are today. We thank them deeply for their contributions over the years and are honored that they will continue to offer their guidance through our Emeritus Board.

Room to read’s legacy society

As outgoing Board Chair, I am proud to ensure my long-term impact on Room to Read programs through a legacy gift. I hope you will join me in pledging to leave your legacy through Room to Read and make your ongoing commitment toward educating the world’s children.”


The Legacy Society recognizes individuals who have made provisions for Room to Read through their estate plans. As a Legacy Society member, you can share your story and become a role model to others who are thinking about leaving a legacy gift to Room to Read. We are sincerely grateful to those who remember us through a bequest or other type of legacy gift.

For information, please contact