July 28, 2022
Craig Herb, a longtime supporter, has committed an estimated $1 million legacy gift to Room to Read. He recently sat down with our team to discuss his decision to include Room to Read in his will and support education for decades to come.
Read more below!
I can’t say that I always have. My resume is littered with odd jobs, fits and starts, and some serendipity along the way. The work ethic I formed early was mixed with some luck that found me at Microsoft in my 20s, which is where I spent most of my career.
I feel that life started to get most interesting for me as I began to be exposed to some of the world’s most complex challenges as I traveled throughout Asia and Central America, in some of the communities that Room to Read serves. I found incredible tenacity of the human spirit in some of the most under-resourced places that I visited.
What struck me most was the yearning for opportunity, which was synonymous with education. This was oftentimes pursued not for personal gain, but to support families and communities. It was so different from what I was used to in my own culture, which tended to prioritize the individual. It was surprising and touching, and I was moved by so much of what I saw that it helped me redefine what I thought community should be and what relationships should look like.
Given what I was seeing, it was exciting for me to start thinking about the next chapter in my life. I found Room to Read through some quick research and immediately saw that it checked a lot of boxes for me and my wife, Brenda. She is a teacher, so education is tremendously important to her, and the gender equality component of Room to Read's work spoke to both of us in a big way.
Working at Microsoft gave me the opportunity to be surrounded by so many smart people from all different walks of life. I quickly understood that education was the great equalizer and to deny someone an education because of their gender or where they were born — to limit their opportunity and potential in that way — was something I found unjust and hard to reconcile.
This culminated in me spending nine months volunteering at Room to Read’s San Francisco office, during which time I got pulled into all the great things Room to Read was doing and, equally important, how they were doing them. After leaving San Francisco to return back to my home in Raleigh, I had a great desire to continue my work with Room to Read, which is how I wound up founding Room to Read’s volunteer chapter in Washington, D.C.
Frederick Buechner defines vocation as the place where “your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.” I felt like this was the first time I had the opportunity to apply my talents creatively to intersect this “deep hunger.”
My experience with nonprofits is that oftentimes “the closer you get the less you like.” My experience with Room to Read was just the opposite. A rare mix of a spot-on mission, data-driven focus and a people-centric methodology lured me in. I wanted to support the organization any way I could. For 11 years I volunteered, advocated and fundraised for Room to Read through my work with the Washington D.C. Chapter, and my wife Brenda and I have happily invested financially as well.
Room to Read has always pushed the envelope in challenging the standards of what the world is and what it can be. They have continued with bold thinking in integrating their programming into government curriculums to ensure sustainability and growth, and they have demonstrated how education is the solution to so many of the world’s problems, like climate change, conflict and health. They impressed me as a true learning organization; one continually open to improving.
As our two children are now grown, with families and lives of their own, we realized that they are far less in need of our support than the millions of children around the world who still lack access to quality education. In reviewing our will, it became logical and exciting for us to include a future gift for Room to Read. Through this experience, we realized anew that our support is intrinsically tied to the success of young learners around the world and that their success was truly the legacy that Brenda and I valued.
As Brenda and I talked about what this new will might prioritize, we realized that our will was surprisingly not very complicated. Using Room to Read’s free bequest tool through FreeWill made the process both simple and free, which are two words I like!
There are probably 1,000 different ways I can answer this question, but the one that comes to mind the quickest is the closest to my heart. I think about the word “agency” a lot. To me, this ability to make choices, identify goals and act upon them is critically important, and something that Room to Read specifically teaches as part of their Girls’ Education Program. I understand more each day how many pressures and mixed messages girls experience in their early years, here in the United States and around the world, and I wonder, how do they find their voice? Without education, and the support that comes with it, I saw that girls face challenges that minimize their importance, opportunities and yes — their agency.
If you value education for all and envision a world where illiteracy and gender inequality are problems of the past, to me there is no better investment than Room to Read. If you have the means, I encourage you to make a reoccurring donation of any amount — it is a wonderful way to provide crucial funding for children’s education every month.
But, if you are looking for a way to truly benefit global education over the longterm, in a way that costs you nothing now, I highly recommend including Room to Read in your will. It is the most effective way to invest in a brighter future for all. And with Room to Read offering supporters a free tool to create or update their will, I found it to be very rewarding and surprisingly easy.
It's easy to create your legacy with Room to Read.