Founded in 2000 on the belief that World Change Starts with Educated Children®, Room to Read is creating a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality by collaborating with local communities, partner organizations and governments to test and implement innovative models that can be integrated into the education system to deliver positive outcomes for children at scale We are achieving this goal by providing support during the two most critical time periods in a child’s education: primary school for literacy acquisition and secondary school for girls’ education.
Our Literacy Program trains and coaches teachers, creates quality books and curricular materials and establishes libraries filled with diverse children’s books in local languages that can be enjoyed at school or home.
Our Girls’ Education Program helps girls build skills to succeed in secondary school and make key life decisions by providing life skills curriculum, opportunities for mentorship and peer support, and family and community engagement.
We deliver additional remote solutions that leverage local logistical infrastructure, broadcast media networks and internet-based technologies to facilitate learning beyond the classroom.
Room to Read is creating a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality. We are achieving this goal by helping children in historically low-income communities develop literacy skills and a habit of reading, and by supporting girls as they build skills to succeed in school and negotiate key life decisions. We collaborate with governments and other partner organizations to deliver positive outcomes for children at scale.
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: 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.
Later, John met Erin Ganju, Room to Read’s former 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 continued to grow its program operations. Learn more here.
Room to Read is a non-sectarian non-governmental organization.
We do not see educational investment as an either/or proposition. Every community 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 this basic human right.
Where opportunities exist to distribute materials beyond our project sites, we coordinate with our existing local NGO and government partners.
Every year, thousands of students and schools around the world join us in championing our cause. From grade school to graduate school, our Students Helping Students network has established campus and school clubs, hosting read-a-thons, creating outreach videos or any number of activities to support our work.
Given the rural location, frequent lack of internet access and electricity in our program schools, a pen pal project or ongoing relationship with a school in our program countries is not something we are able to facilitate. Our staff has their hands full implementing our programs and we do not want to interfere with their curriculum or progress to implement new initiatives outside the scope of our mission and not strategically aligned with local classroom needs.