As we celebrate the milestone of reaching our 10 millionth student, I’ve been thinking about how we got here in just fifteen fast-paced years. I believe much of this goes back to our founding DNA. From the day we launched Room to Read we’ve been driven by three sayings we’ve built into our work ethic. If you spend even a day around me you’ve heard at least one of them (for which, apologies). And they’re not just sayings — they are our core philosophy that helps keep us motivated and focused on what’s important as we strive to change the world through the power of education for millions of children.
Bold goals attract bold people
I love “big, hairy, audacious goals” — or BHAG — which is a saying I borrowed from Jim Collins’ classic book Built to Last. Erin, Dinesh and I took this phrase to heart when we founded Room to Read and set the bold goal of reaching 10 million children by 2020. We had to go big because of the need: 250 million kids are not receiving a quality education and nearly 800 million people worldwide cannot read. Here’s the amazing part: Today we’re celebrating this very milestone five years early! Now that’s some serious BHAGing. And for those who helped us get here — a hearty and sincere thank you!
Allow me to tell you about one of these individuals: Mr. Kall Kann, our country director in Cambodia.
Kall was 12 years old when the Khmer Rouge occupied Cambodia. Both of his parents were killed in the genocide. Kall fled into the jungle to hide though eventually he was forced to work in the rice fields. He wasn’t allowed to go to to school.