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Room to Read Celebrates International Women’s Day With Groundbreaking Private Investments In Girls’ Education

March 08, 2016

Today, on International Women’s Day, Room to Read announces two transformational private investments in their Girls’ Education Program:

  • The First Lady of the United States of America, through the Let Girls Learn initiative, highlighted in remarks made today, an expanded commitment by Salesforce.org to gender equality in education through its support to bring Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program to more than 3400 girls across Siem Reap, Cambodia and the Uva region in Sri Lanka. This is the first investment Salesforce.org is making in Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program.
  • A grant through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges initiative, along with support from J-PAL, Williams College and other investors, will fund Room to Read’s randomized controlled trial to develop an evidence-based program to improve completion of secondary school, reduce incidence of child labor, and improve longer-term life outcomes among disadvantaged girls. The Girls’ Education Life Skills Evaluation will be conducted in Rajasthan, India and is the first of its kind in a developing country context by an implementing NGO.

As a longtime partner of Room to Read, Salesforce.org has fueled Room to Read’s growth by enabling the organization to monitor global programs and scale its operations. Today, to draw focus to the important message of the Let Girls Learn initiative, Salesforce.org is supporting Room to Read in expanding its Girls’ Education Program to reach more than 3400 girls in Siem Reap, Cambodia and the Uva region of Sri Lanka. This expanded commitment will support the work the First Lady Michelle Obama has done to shed light on the importance of girls’ education, particularly in Cambodia, where she visited Room to Read’s work as part of the Let Girls Learn launch trip. Since her trip, the government of Cambodia has been exploring ways to integrate Room to Read’s life skills curriculum into the standard public school curriculum, which would have a major impact on the ability for girls to succeed across the country.

The multi-year Girls’ Education Life Skills Evaluation being conducted by Room to Read will assess the impact of two years of their Girls’ Education Program on girls’ life skills and academic progress, and will include approximately 2500 girls from 119 schools in Rajasthan, India who entered the sixth grade in 2016. The evaluation, which runs through 2018, uses randomized controlled trials (RCT), considered the scientific gold standard for assessing the impact of a program or intervention. While Room to Read has regularly conducted controlled studies to measure its programs, this is the organization’s first RCT, underscoring its commitment to rigorous assessment methods. From this evaluation the team plans to develop monitoring tools to periodically measure life skills education outcomes so they can ensure the program is having the intended consequences. While past studies have evaluated life skills programs focused specifically on sexual/reproductive health or vocational skills, there have been few, if any, RCTs that have taken such a comprehensive look at the effects of life skills education on girls’ academic performance in low-income countries. The evaluation aims to provide invaluable information to Room to Read and the larger global education community. The grant for this evaluation through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of 19 new grants announced today, totaling more than $24 million, and was selected from among over 1700 letters of interest.

"From day one, Room to Read has looked to our corporate and foundation partners who we consider key contributors to our strategic growth and impact,” said Erin Ganju, Room to Read’s co-founder and CEO. “Both Salesforce.org and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have been our long-time partners, and we are thrilled to celebrate with them on International Women’s Day--along with First Lady Michelle Obama and the Let Girls Learn initiative—and shine a light on the importance of increasing private investment in the critical and life-changing issue of educating girls.”

"We are proud to work with Room to Read to support its efforts to expand girls' education globally," said Suzanne DiBianca, president of Salesforce.org. "With this commitment, Room to Read will reach even more girls around the world—giving them the tools and resources they need to excel in school and in life."

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