Frequently Asked Questions

Programs & Countries

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.  NGO partnerships are identified as part of our in-country strategic planning. Due to the volume of partnership opportunities, we cannot respond to unsolicited program partnership requests.

Room to Read collaborates with local communities, partner organizations and governments to ensure that primary school children can become independent readers and girls can complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions. We set measurable goals and are committed to collecting action-oriented data to ensure our programs are run with quality and impact, while maximizing cost efficiencies.

Our  Literacy Program transforms primary schools into child-friendly learning environments that enable children to develop the skills and habit of reading throughout primary school and become life-long, independent readers. Our school intervention includes ensuring the facility has a structured library with books in the children’s local language, as well as teachers and librarians who are trained in the best practices of reading and writing instruction. Key to our program is ensuring that families, communities and governments are all engaged in the transformation of the school and committed to its success.

Our  Girls’ Education Program ensures that girls complete secondary school and have the skills to negotiate key life decisions. Our program reinforces girls’ commitment to their own education, works with girls to develop essential life skills and increases support for girls’ education among their parents, school staff, and communities. Key to our program are our social mobilizers, local women who are hired as mentors and work with girls and their families to ensure that girls stay in school, participate in activities, and navigate the challenges of adolescence with the ability to make their own life choices, both personally and professionally.

We love hearing that you were moved by the stories of our students in our programs! It has long been Room to Read’s philosophy not to establish a direct one-to-one relationship between our donors and individual students. There are a few reasons this has been our policy, including that we want the children in our programs to see that their local community can facilitate their expanded educational opportunities and the solutions to their problems can be found within their local resources.  Learn more about how our programs empower local communities with the tools they need to be successful. 

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.

See Where We 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. Room to Read has benefited more than 32 million children and has worked in 21 countries and in more than 49,000 communities, with additional support through remote solutions that facilitate learning beyond the classroom. Room to Read aims to reach 40 million children by 2025.

See Where We Work

Room to Read Office Locations

Room to Read's custom projects are our technical assistance unit that provides services in children’s literacy and girls’ education based on award-winning programs that are research-based and locally contextualized. Custom projects are designed for clients such as ministries of education, non-governmental organizations and others who are interested in improving the literacy skills of children in primary grades, and providing girls with the life skills they need to complete secondary school and navigate key life decisions.

Room to Read receives many requests to work in other low-income countries across the globe.

Learn About Room to Read's Custom Projects

Where opportunities exist to distribute materials beyond our project sites, we coordinate with our existing local NGO and government partners.

Room to Read is growing every day—serving new communities and new regions. Recognizing that the need for our work exists in many other countries across the developing world, we are 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.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. As mentioned above in “plans for expansion”, 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.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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.

We currently are only able to provide support for girls transitioning through secondary school and already within our programs.

In addition to involving parents and caregivers, Room to Read also engages local communities by helping to build the capacity of local writers, illustrators and publishers to develop engaging local language storybooks. We also purchase and distribute books from partner publishers, building a demand for children’s literature and promoting the growth of local publishing industries and individual book creators.

We appreciate your desire to see our work. We currently do not offer site visit opportunities to the general public. However, we do have a large library of content throughout our website and YouTube channel that will give you a closer look at our programs and the communities where we work.

To maintain our operational efficiency and direct our resources to our partner communities, we are not able to provide travel advice for the countries where we work.

2 children in Cambodia holding a book and laughing

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