Issue 11, May 2011
Message From Our Team

Dear Friends,

Helping girls become self-confident women through education is at the heart of Room to Read’s mission. This month, in honor of Mother’s Day which is celebrated throughout many countries in May, Room to Read is paying special honor to the girls striving to change their lives through education, and to the many women who support these girls on their journey.

Our newly-published 2010 Girls’ Education Yearbook is filled with stories of girls taking decisive steps toward a future filled with opportunities. These girls, along with over 10,500 other participants in our Girls’ Education program, have overcome unique personal struggles and social adversity to gain an education. You will meet Inkham, a young girl from a remote village in Laos, who regularly reads to her parents, both of whom are mute. And Marjory, a 14-year-old in Zambia who was inspired to complete her education when her own mother, deserted by her husband, went back to school and is now working toward a degree in education.

These girls, and thousands of others like them, rely on strong role models—both men and women—to help them envision possibilities and develop the tools to reach their goals. We invite you to join us in co-investing with these communities to empower thousands more girls in marginalized areas of the world through education. Throughout the month of May, your gifts to Room to Read up to US$250,000 will be matched thanks to the generosity of a few anonymous donors. This special campaign has the potential to transform the lives of 2,000 girls in Asia and Africa—a number that will multiply exponentially as each girl shares her education with her family, neighbors and larger community.

Room to Read is proud to help generations of girls become generations of educated women, because, in the words of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life.”

Honor the special women in your life with a gift to Room to Read and know that you are helping to change the world.

Warm regards,

Erin Ganju
Co-Founder and CEO, Room to Read


Investing in girls’ education is the best way to ensure brighter tomorrows for future generations of girls and boys. Honor the influential women in your life with a gift to Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program. All donations to support the program through the end of May will be matched up to US$250,000, thanks to a group of generous Girls' Education program donors.

Read All About It: 2010 Girls’ Education Yearbook

Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program has enriched the lives of more than 10,500 girls in eight countries in Asia and Africa. In our 2010 Girls’ Education Yearbook, you’ll meet eight of the girls in our program and hear their stories—in their own words—about what drives them, the challenges they face and how their education is changing everything. You’ll also be introduced to the network of female role models and multi-generational family supporters that forms a critical support system around each girl on her journey through secondary school, and from which each girl draws strength to reach her full potential in life.

Download the 2010 Room to Read Girls’ Education Yearbook now »

Life After Room to Read: Checking in with Girls’ Education Program Graduates

One of the unique features of Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program is the long-term commitment to each girl’s success. The scholars, many of whom begin their participation with Room to Read in primary school, become part of the global Room to Read family and share a critical bond with our staff, partners and investors. When a girl receives her secondary school diploma, we all celebrate her success. So far, 234 girls have graduated from our Girls’ Education program—with many more to come!

Though Room to Read’s active support ends once this milestone has been reached, stakeholders are eager to learn how the girls negotiate the next phases of their lives. What decisions do they make about continuing education, career, and family life? To what extent did the Girls’ Education program prepare them for the challenges they face after secondary school?

Last fall, Room to Read’s Monitoring and Evaluation and Girls’ Education program teams joined forces to develop a multi-country study to answer these often-asked questions. Girls’ Education Program Fellow, Kirsten Anderson, was contracted to meet with over 200 graduates in four countries where Room to Read runs the program. She and her team have already traveled many miles to complete surveys in India, Nepal and Vietnam, and they are currently working in Cambodia. The results of the study will be used by the Girls’ Education team to guide future program planning and serve as a means to demonstrate the positive impact formal schooling can have on a girl’s future.

Read more about the survey in one of our recent blogs »

Get a “Deal” This Mother’s Day

If you are a Groupon subscriber or have been meaning to sign up, now is the time! From May 4 through May 8, Groupon will be running a nationwide (U.S. only) “deal” in partnership with Room to Read. Groupon’s 33 million U.S. subscribers will have the opportunity to direct their collective buying power to give girls in the developing world the opportunity to learn. The special Groupon deal is sponsored by Atlassian, a software company whose donations to Room to Read have recently topped $1 million. Selling out on the 5-day deal will allow us to support an additional 800 girls through our Girls’ Education program! The “deal” for Groupon members comes in three price levels—$10, $25 and $125—all of which will be matched (up to $100,000), which means twice as many girls will benefit!

Sign up for Groupon »

Chapters are comprised of individuals who have made a long-term volunteer commitment to promoting Room to Read within their communities, and we depend on their network to achieve our fundraising goals. For more information about Room to Read events hosted by chapters in your area, we encourage you to regularly visit our events page.

Join us for events scheduled in:

Atlanta: May 3
Edinburgh: May 5
Calgary: May 6
Minneapolis St Paul: May 6
London: May 8
Westchester, NY: May 9
Central New Jersey: May 11
Boston: May 12
Boston: May 13
Chicago: May 13
Burlingame, CA: May 15
Los Angeles, Gala: May 19
Toronto: May 19
Birmingham (England): May 22
Paris: May 26
Edmonton (Canada): June 9

Learn more about our chapter network »


Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Fosters Entrepreneurial Spirit in India

Priyanka, a 10th grader from the small village of Pandey Gaon, India, had always assumed that successful entrepreneurs were born wealthy, with money readily available to invest in their various business ventures. With a large family barely surviving on the meager wages of her father, a day laborer, Priyanka dismissed any notion of becoming a business owner herself. Her view changed last year, after participating in the Empowering Girls Through Education and Entrepreneurship Program, a joint effort by Room to Read and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative. The program, made possible by a generous three-year gift from the Goldman Sachs Foundation, introduces girls in 9th through 12th grades to the world of business, finance and entrepreneurship.

In developing the program, our India team reached out to numerous non-governmental partners (NGO) partners who work in the area of entrepreneurship to generate and coordinate the Entrepreneurial Skills Package, comprised of workshops, camps and visits with successful local business owners. Through these various activities, the girls foster an understanding of the various components of how to launch and run a successful business.

Priyanka notes, “After attending the sessions, I came to know that some world famous entrepreneurs came from very poor families and had very little money when they started their business. Now I can think of starting my own small business to support my family.”

By empowering secondary school girls—who are on the cusp of making the crucial transition from school to work—with formal education and complementary life skills instruction, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women and Room to Read are helping girls realize their future potential to one day be able to take action and contribute to their country’s economic growth.

Learn more about our corporate partners»

The Power of Ten

Our 52 volunteer chapters around the globe are never short on creative ways to raise money and spread awareness about Room to Read. One of the latest concepts comes from our chapters Down Under, and they’re challenging the rest of the chapter network to follow their lead.

The Power of Ten campaign is simple: 10 women each ask 10 other women to support 10 years of girls’ education, resulting in 100 years of educational support. The Power of Ten was officially launched last September at an author-studded event in Sydney. Six months later, all five chapters in Australia (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth) have secured commitments from several individuals, book clubs, and corporations to participate in the campaign—and the number continues to increase monthly. Although The Power of Ten initiative originated in Australia, the vision is to take the campaign global. And that vision is already starting to become a reality. At the recent Chapter Leadership Conference, the Sydney chapter challenged fellow chapter leaders to join them in their goal of funding 10,000 years of girls’ education by 2012. Ten other Room to Read chapters immediately stepped up to the plate and soon, The Power of Ten will be expanding to Aspen, Calgary, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Zurich and Washington, DC.

Raji Ambikairajah, Room to Read Chapter Leader in Sydney proudly declared, “With Australia's lead and now 10 other chapters across the world committed to The Power of Ten movement, we are going to forever change the lives of millions and millions of girls.”

Learn more about our chapter network »

The Girls’ Education program got its start in 2001 with 15 girls from Nepal receiving support. Ten years later, we are proud to see many girls completing the program, graduating from secondary school and taking their next step into a life of choices and possibilities. Several of our graduates, equipped with a full complement of academic preparation and life skills training, are pursuing higher education and enrolling in university. Three of these young women are featured in the 2010 Girls’ Education Yearbook and below are brief highlights of their stories.

Anita, India

Convincing her parents to allow her to continue school was a challenge Anita faced not once, but twice. First was when she was about to enter 9th grade, her parents told her that she had to leave school to prepare for marriage. Luckily, with Room to Read’s educational support, she was able to complete 12th grade and graduate at the top of her class.

Read more about Anita »

Aradhana, Nepal

In 2001, Aradhana’s parents were facing a very difficult decision. Because of his illness, Aradhana’s father was unable to work, which left the burden of supporting the family on her mother. That meant, either both of their daughters could be placed in a substandard school, or they could put one daughter in a better school and make the other drop out to work.

Read more about Aradhana »

Dang, Vietnam

Attending a famous university in Ho Chi Minh City is a dream come true for Dang. The eldest child of a farming family of five, Dang worked in a sewing factory every summer to earn money for the family. But during the school year, Dang was able to continue her schooling with Room to Read’s support.

Read more about Dang »