Frequent Questions - General

What does Room to Read do?

We’re fighting global poverty the best way we know how—by partnering with communities across Asia and Africa to improve educational opportunities for children. To achieve this goal, we focus on the two areas where we can have the most impact: literacy and gender equality in education.

Our literacy programs focus on helping primary school children become lifelong, independent readers by establishing libraries, improving school infrastructure, publishing local language children’s books and supporting reading and writing instruction through teacher training and material development.

At the secondary school level, we focus on making sure girls have the material and emotional support necessary to succeed in school and beyond. In developing countries, girls are far more likely to drop out than their male peers due to cultural bias, societal pressures and other factors. Our program provides material and academic support along with life skills workshops, to help girls become educated, empowered women capable of making informed decisions.

Learn more about our programs.

Where can I learn more about Room to Read?

Our website is the most comprehensive source of information about Room to Read. It contains descriptions of our programs, four years of audited financial statements and our most recent annual report.

If you prefer to receive information about Room to Read via traditional mail, please email

When and where did Room to Read start?

In 1998, then-Microsoft Executive John Wood went on a trip to Nepal that would not only change his life, but also lay the foundation for Room to Read. After a chance encounter led John to witness the crushing poverty and lack of education resources at a school high in the Himalayas, he returned home with a mission: to collect enough books to start a library for that one school. John’s first book drive led to many more, and after a short while, he left his career at Microsoft to found a charity called Books for Nepal.

A couple of years later, John met Erin Ganju, Room to Read’s current CEO, who helped him expand his project into Vietnam—launching the first international expansion of the organization now known as Room to Read.

Room to Read became an official 501c3 organization in 2000, and has since grown its program operations to ten countries across two continents. You can read more about our history on our website or in John Wood’s memoir, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World.

Is Room to Read affiliated with a religious or government organization?

Room to Read is a non-governmental organization and is completely non-denominational.

Why should I support this organization when there are people in need in my own country?

We do not see educational investment as an either/or proposition. Certainly every country could benefit from improvements in education, but in the communities where we work, a relatively small investment can have major impact in the lives of hundreds (or thousands) of children.

We believe that every child deserves a quality education, no matter the situation they were born into, but the truth is that in many parts of Asia and Africa—especially in rural communities—many children are still denied that basic human right. 

How do I stay updated on the work Room to Read is doing?

A lot happens at Room to Read, so to make sure you are getting all the latest results numbers, expansion updates and event information, be sure to sign up for our quarterly email newsletter. We also post regularly to the official Room to Read Twitter feed, Facebook page, Blog and YouTube Channel, so no matter where you live, you can always stay in touch.

How can my school partner with you to help promote your work?

We have a fantastic Students Helping Students (SHS) initiative, designed to foster global awareness and social entrepreneurship in the hearts and minds of students around the world. We formalized this initiative in 2006 after the amazing efforts of over 200 schools that proactively raised over US$400,000 for our expansion into Sri Lanka.

Since then, schools have formed Room to Read clubs, held read-a-thons, held bake sales and much more to raise money for our work. Our Students Helping Students website and Facebook page contain a wealth of information for students, parents and teachers, including creative ways to get involved, updated results, and lesson plans on social entrepreneurship and cultural awareness.

For more information, email

How can I get my company involved?

There are many ways your company can support our work. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Get your employer to match your donation.
  • If your company has a corporate foundation, make an introduction.
  • Hold a used book drive for Room to Read through our partner, Better World Books, who will sell your used books and donate all the proceeds to Room to Read.
  • Hold a company fundraiser for our projects. By combining efforts, you and your colleagues can have a major impact on the communities where we work.

Have another idea? Let us know by sending an email to or learn more on our partners page.


With your help, we can affect the lives of 10 million children by 2015.

Invest in Room to Read

Schools Constructed 1,930
Libraries Established


Books Published 1,158
Books Distributed 15,641,734
Girls' Education Participants


Children Benefited 9.7 million

results updated quarterly

2013 Annual Report

Working Smart
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