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 a child-friendly learning environment that enables 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. The 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.
Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, we develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.
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.
A lot happens at Room to Read, so to make sure you are getting all the latest results numbers, expansion updates and event information, be sure to sign up for our email list to be included in news and updates about the organization. We also post regularly to our Twitter feed, Facebook page, Blog, YouTube Channel and Medium page, so no matter where you live, you can always stay in touch.
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.