Frequent Questions - Programs & Countries
How do we form a partnership with your organization?
Partner organizations are an important strategic aspect of Room to Read’s business model. We work in collaboration with local NGOs in order to build upon the strengths of existing work and ensure long-term sustainability. At this time, our in-country teams are focused primarily on strengthening relationships with current partners, but if your organization would like to collaborate with us in one of the ten countries where Room to Read currently operates, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To see a list of current partners by country, visit our Where we work map.
Where can I learn more about how you run your programs?
You can find extensive information about our programs on our website, including videos and relevant case studies from our blog. Information about our Research, Monitoring and Evaluation is also available.
Can I sponsor a particular girl through your Girls' Education program? Can I get letters from her?
It is Room to Read's philosophy not to establish a direct one-to-one relationship between our donors and individual students. Part of the curriculum of our Girls' Education program helps girls to develop the independence and life skills necessary to make informed decisions for themselves and their families. Having the girls communicate directly with a benefactor overseas may lead them to believe that the solution to their problems lies outside their own community, fostering a culture of dependence.
Instead, we ask donors to contribute to a general fund that is administered at a local level by our in-country staff. The direct relationship with each girl is facilitated by our well-trained, locally-educated social mobilizers who act as both mentor and role model. We also offer pre-planned site visits throughout the year to several communities in each country of operation, which are open to the public.
For more information on the program, see our Girls' Education Program page.
Does the work you are doing in these countries mean you support their governments?
We act as a non-governmental charitable organization. Because we work in public (government) schools, we partner with government ministries of education to implement our educational projects but are not involved in their politics.
Where does Room to Read currently work?
In 2000 Room to Read launched in Nepal, our first country of operation. As the organization grew, we began to identify other countries facing similar educational challenges that our programs were suited to address, which led to expansion into nine more countries across Asia and Africa.
Currently, Room to Read works in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia. We also have seven fundraising offices around the globe.
What are your plans for expansion?
Room to Read is growing every day—serving new communities and new regions in our 10 countries of operation. Recognizing that the need for our work exists in many other countries across the developing world, we are also firmly committed to increasing the international footprint of our programs. As such, we conduct research to determine countries that could benefit the most from Room to Read services and maintain a list at all times of potential expansion countries.
Our selection criteria for new countries of programmatic operation is both a science and an art, and includes programmatic and operational variables. Examples include education, literacy, gender equality, socioeconomic, and political indicators; as well as the ability to operate effectively, develop viable partnerships, and sustain program activities over time. We weigh these factors against country-level issues such as relative peace and demonstrated government commitment to education—both of which are essential for Room to Read to conduct our work effectively. Once a country is identified as a good fit, our team conducts extensive on-the-ground research and analysis that determines final selection.
Can you start working in my country?
Unfortunately, it is not that simple. As mentioned above, we have a detailed planning process that guides our expansion into new countries and is designed to ensure that our programs are the best possible match for a country’s educational challenges.
For this reason, we focus our expansion first on countries that are determined to be the best fits for our work.
How do you select the villages that you partner with?
One of Room to Read’s fundamental operating principles is community participation, so our local teams take great care in identifying each project site. While selection criteria may vary by country or program, there are three non-negotiable requirements:
- Needs assessment: Before beginning work, our team conducts a thorough assessment of each community to ensure that there is a genuine need for Room to Read’s support and that our programs can have a significant positive impact.
- Widespread community support: By agreeing to our “Challenge Grant” model, each community commits to assisting in project implementation and maintenance, both of which are essential to the sustainability of Room to Read’s programs.
- Government approval: Because we work in government (public) schools, the Ministry of Education at the local or national level (varies by country) must approve project locations before we can begin work.
Learn more about where we work.
How can my organization get the books you publish?
In addition to distributing our local language books to our growing network of schools and libraries, we occasionally donate books to other local NGOs in the countries where we work. If you are a representative of such an NGO and would like to apply to receive some of our local language books, please contact email@example.com.
We do not currently sell or donate any of our local language books outside of the countries where we work. If and when we change that policy, instructions for procurement will be added to our website.
How does Room to Read estimate the total number of children benefitted by its programs?
As Room to Read has increased its global footprint, we are often asked how we calculate the number of children our programs have benefitted? Here's how we do it:
To estimate the number of children for whom we provide access to educational resources, we take into consideration several factors. We count the total number of children provided access to our School Libraries over an eight year period; our School Construction projects over ten years; and all participants in our Girls’ Education program. These figures are based on school enrollment during the first year of the program and the estimated enrollment of new classes thereafter. All enrollment figures are collected by our in-country staff through surveying and monitoring visits. Because we often offer multiple programs at the same project site, we also account for program layering to avoid double-counting.