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 Vietnamese girls in graduation robes throwing graduation caps in the air

Changemakers in Gender Equality: Highlights

To make schools safer and more welcoming for girls, thousands of Girls’ Education Program participants across India conducted safety assessments of local schools — more than 100 in total — documenting accessibility issues and thinking critically about what makes a space safe and welcoming for girls trying to continue their education. More than 179,000 Girls’ Education Program students and a group of more than 40,000 educators, caregivers, community leaders and government officials across nine states in India used these findings to advocate for the implementation of national laws and policies to support child protection in educational settings, with an emphasis on the importance of creating spaces for girls to flourish.

Group of Indian girls sitting in circle in a classroom with books in front of them

Hundreds of Room to Read Girls’ Education Program students and educators from schools across Laos and Vietnam attended end-of-year life skills camps in 2022, each focused on helping girls cultivate a set of key life skills, such as collaboration and critical thinking. Lessons were incorporated into interactive games and role-play activities that offered students real-life scenarios to navigate in groups, helping to deepen the girls’ understanding of particular life skills while emphasizing the importance of attributes such as teamwork, persistence and self-confidence.

Group of Vietnamese girls sitting at a table outside making a presentation with a microphone

Radio remains one of the most accessible communication channels for communities across Nepal, making it an ideal platform for Room to Read’s 'Road to Equality' radio drama series, which premiered in December  2022. More than 60 radio stations in Nepal partnered with Room to Read to broadcast the series, allowing households across the country to access important messages about gender norms and equality, gender-specific discrimination in the classroom and the critical role of girls’ education.

Despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world by Gross Domestic Product, Italy ranks fourth among the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in unemployment rates among women. According to studies, paid employment rates among women and girls in Southern Italy have been around 25 percent while only 50 percent of girls complete high school. Based on these findings, we identified a unique way to support girls in the region: life skills lessons provided through young adult graphic novels, along with school-based curriculum. Graphic novels are particularly popular among adolescent girls across Italy, and through partnerships with local book creators, our team developed four engaging titles, each offering educational lessons — including those focused on digital and financial literacy, as well as entrepreneurship, which support girls’ future education and employability. We also are collaborating with government and education leaders, as well as local partners, to create and implement a school-based curriculum for girls in Naples and Palermo, in addition to holding regular symposiums on gender equality issues in education. The first symposium was held in October and included speakers from the European Parliament and Ministry of Education.

Pages from Italian graphic novel promoting gender equality

In March, we published our Adolescent Life Skills Assessment (ALSA) with an accompanying in-depth technical report chronicling five years of development, testing and adaptation in seven countries. ALSA was curated and adapted by Room to Read and measures competencies in nine life skills, including relationship-building, self-confidence and decision-making. Additionally, we published a best-practices guide for other organizations to contextualize and pilot the life skills assessment in their own programs. 

Girl from Tanzania standing at podium in front of her classmates wearing at hat that says "GEP"

Meet changemaker Naduni of Sri Lanka

Amid the devastating 2022 economic crisis in Sri Lanka, Girls' Educaton Program participant Naduni struggled to remain engaged in her education.

In response, her Room to Read mentor, Bhagya, increased the frequency of their mentoring sessions, incorporating Room to Read's life skills curriculum to reinforce skills like creative problem-solving, self-control and communication to help support Naduni with the tools she needed to cope with challenging emotions.

Bhagya also found creative ways to reignite Naduni's interest in her education.

4 photos of girls from Bangladesh, Vietnam and Sri Lanka in a row holding up their framed illustrated portraits

Room to Read Releases She Creates Change

In 2022, Room to Read partnered with Rebel Girls, a global girl empowerment brand, to publish “She Creates Change: 25 Stories of Courageous Young Women and Their Heroes,” a book featuring 12 inspiring stories of girls from Room to Read's Girls' Education Program who have used their life skills to create positive change in their lives and the lives of others. These remarkable changemakers have created sustainability apps for tablets and phones, challenged forced marriage, grown gardens that nourish their communities and earned money for their families as YouTube sensations. The girl's stories are paired with 12 stories of their heroes, women from across the globe in whom they've found inspiration and strength. Audio versions of select stories are also available via Rebel Girls’ podcast app.

Building on the stories featured in the books and podcasts, we are now finalizing the video portion of She Creates Change. Each episode in the six-part video series features an adolescent girl who has used life skills to overcome obstacles and transform her life. The girl’s moment of triumph is shown via animation, followed by a short documentary that reveals the real-life hero behind the story.

She Creates Change Official Teaser

The aim of this initiative is to engage millions of adolescent girls around the world with inspirational content and associated educational curriculum that encourages them to learn more about the importance of life skills and cultivate these attributes to solve challenges in their own lives and communities.

Funded by the Troper Wojcicki Foundation, the project is led by an award-winning team of women. This includes Martha Adams (“Girl Rising”), who directed the project. Women-owned Nexus Studios identified a diverse group of women directors with ties to the communities featured to create the animation and oversaw development of the final animated stories. Executive producers include Brenda Chapman, the first woman to win an Oscar for best animated film (“Brave”), veteran screenwriter and director Jill Culton (“Abominable”), recipient of Animation Magazine’s GAME CHANGER award for being the first woman to write and direct an original animated theatrical feature, and actor Freida Pinto, best known for her starring role in “Slumdog Millionaire.” The videos will be released in October for International Day of the Girl.


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.

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