2022 Annual Report

Big group of girls in Bangladesh dressed in white walking outside together surrounded by trees with the words "Celebrating Changemakers" overlaid

At Room to Read, we Believe World Change Starts with Educated Children®.

Education is the most effective tool for solving the world’s greatest challenges, including poverty, climate change and inequality. When children learn, they create waves of change that extend throughout their families, communities and future generations.

This year, Room to Read is celebrating the next generation of changemakers — the young readers breaking the cycle of illiteracy in their families, the girls charting their chosen life paths, helping to create a more gender equal world — and the remarkable educators, caregivers and community members who support them.

Thank you for being a changemaker for Room to Read. By supporting Room to Read, you are helping to change the future through education, transforming the lives of millions of children to create a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality.


Education is the most effective tool for solving the world's greatest challenges, including poverty, climate change and inequality. When children learn, they create waves of change that extend throughout their families, communities and future generations.

With your support, Room to Read received several prestigious honors in 2022.

  • Our Girls’ Education Program in Cambodia was the recipient of the 2022 UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education. The prize honors outstanding and innovative contributions made to improve and promote educational prospects of girls and women and, in turn, the quality of their lives.
  • Out of 3,448 education-focused organizations, Room to Read was ranked #1 for impact and scalability by HundrED, a global organization that identifies, amplifies and facilitates the implementation of impactful and scalable education innovations from around the world.
  • In November 2022, we were granted another “exceptional” rating by the largest independent evaluator of charities in the United States, Charity Navigator. This is the 16th year that Room to Read has been awarded a four-star rating — something very few organizations can claim.

Two Cambodian staff members in front of UNESCO background holding signs promoting girls' education.

In 2022, Room to Read appointed Michael Bowers as chief program implementation officer and Cynthia Orme as chief people and technology officer. In partnership with our global leadership team, they are guiding the evolution of our global programs and projects, and overseeing program operations, people operations and information technology.


We also were thrilled to welcome Sonny Kalsi, co-chief executive officer of BentallGreenOak, to Room to Read’s global board of directors. Having served on Room to Read’s North America regional board since 2018, Sonny brings valuable leadership experience and expertise to our global board as Room to Read scales solutions to the worldwide education crisis.

Room to Read leadership

Get to know our leadership team and board members

3.4 million girls supported through Room to Read’s life skills curriculum and mentorship globally (cumulative). 2022: More than 83,000 new girls benefited through our Girls’ Education Program. 39.4 million books distributed to schools and students globally (cumulative). 2022: 3 million new books distributed, 6.3 million new students benefited and 277,000 teachers and librarians trained. 39.9 million children benefited globally in 23 countries (cumulative). 2022: 6.4 million new children benefited


Group of young South African kids sitting on the floor in a library reading

Changemakers in Literacy: Highlights

A just-completed two-year impact evaluation of our Literacy Program in Tanzania, comparing outcomes between 50 Room to Read schools and 50 control schools, found that students in Room to Read schools experienced 20 to 80 percent higher gains in literacy skills vs. those in control school — despite COVID-related restrictions and modifications to our delivery approach. The study confirmed that even with a transition to mostly virtual learning, Room to Read’s Literacy Program provides better outcomes than non-Room to Read schools.

Group of young kids in Tanzania gathered outside around one big book reading and smiling

Our Literacy Program schools in South Africa held a district-wide read-a-thon — a far-reaching community engagement campaign that set out to nurture a love and habit of reading in students and adults alike. With read-alouds, reading activities and reading competitions hosted at schools and a variety of community gathering spaces from shopping centers to senior care facilities young learners in Room to Read’s Literacy Program were able to build their literacy skills and deepen their reading habits as they inspired members of their communities to share in the joy and magic of reading.

Nine South African students poses for photo in front of bookshelves. Five girls in the front are holding a book each.

To address pandemic-related learning loss and encourage children to develop a habit of reading, our Bangladesh team collaborated with local partners to establish Community Reading Forums in Cox’s Bazar. Young learners can access local language storybooks, read independently, borrow quality reading materials and learn alongside other students and Room to Read-trained volunteer instructors in these inviting reading spaces — even when school is not in session.

Large group of kids standing outside in Bangladesh with backpacks smiling

Millions of children in Lebanon have been out of school, and many of those children are refugees. To strengthen children’s literacy skills and reading habits in Lebanon and support the transition of out-of-school children into the formal school system, Room to Read launched a two-year project that includes partnering with Lebanese publishers to print and distribute 60 original Arabic storybooks to roughly 1,800 non-formal education centers across Lebanon. The initiative also entails establishing 50 children’s libraries in non-formal education centers, benefiting approximately 50,000 children and supporting early-grade literacy development in coordination with local efforts.

2022 marked the release of Room to Read’s Folklore & Environment Book Collection, which uses ancestral narratives from across the globe to tell stories about climate change. First developed in 2021 through a virtual Room to Read writers' and illustrators' workshop composed of authors, artists and editors from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Vietnam, this robust collection of 11 books celebrates a diverse range of folk stories that have been shared across generations to help children reflect on the future of the natural world.

With support from longtime partner Tatcha, Room to Read introduced a new U.S.-based collection of storybooks in 2022 — our STEAM-Powered Careers Book Collection. Available in Spanish and English, the collection was created in collaboration with scientists, faculty and staff from the University of Southern California and presents 10 titles to inspire children from groups underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) fields. Through this book collection, children can learn about a variety of groundbreaking and exciting careers they can start exploring right now.

Meet changemaker Sreykeo from Cambodia

Sreykeo's father had to drop out of school in Grade 11 to help support his family when his father passed away. Now, he and Sreykeo's mother must travel to find work.

As a result, Sreykeo lives with her grandmother, who is determined to help Sreykeo obtain the education that her father was denied. Sreykeo's learning journey began in Grade 1, when she attended a Room to Read school and developed a love of books and reading.

Now in Grade 6, Sreykeo is an avid reader who wants to be a teacher so she can impart knowledge to others.


Group of Cambodian students

We are grateful to all of our global partners around the world and want to recognize some of our most generous investors who have given more than $50,000 in 2022. Learn about them here.

We are also enormously grateful to a have an extensive global network of talented people from across the globe who generously donate their time, talent and financial resources to help us deliver on our mission. We would not be where we are today without our board members, global leaders, advocates, ambassadors and chapter leaders.

Invest in children's education today.