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Room to Read Wins Social Capitalist Award For Improving Literacy In Asia

December 21, 2004

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Room to Read, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children in developing countries gain the lifelong gift of education, has been selected for the second consecutive year as a winner of the Social Capitalist Award sponsored by Fast Company magazine and the Monitor Group, a global consulting firm.

The Social Capitalist Awards were introduced in 2003 to recognize organizations that use creativity, business smarts, and hard work to invent a brighter future. These dynamic organizations are the Googles, Amazons, and Microsofts of the social sector: They invent technologies to serve the poor and build groundbreaking products that serve market needs in developing nations. They devise ingenious ways to do well and do good.

Room to Read is among a group of 25 winners to be featured in the January issue of Fast Company. "During 2004, we hit significant milestones including the opening of our 100th school and the establishment of our 1,000th library. This award is a great capstone to close a tremendous year," said John Wood, founder of Room to Read.

The Fast Company Social Capitalist Award is the sole distinction in the non-profit sector that quantitatively measures a non-profit group's innovation and social impact, as well as the viability and sustainability of its business model. From helping underprivileged children attend college and making health care available to those in destitute corners of the world, to rectifying third world labor abuses and financing underprivileged business owners—this year's award winners are as diverse as they are groundbreaking.

"The Social Capitalist Award winners represent a global movement of entrepreneurs who've chosen to apply their skills to the common good," said Fast Company editor-in-chief John Byrne. "In the meantime, they're redefining what it means to be a 'successful business,' and are proving, without question, that the goals of altruism can jibe with the means of capitalism."

"Whatever our professions, we are all citizens, and we all care deeply about unmet social needs—which is precisely where social entrepreneurs make their essential contribution," said Monitor Group CEO Mark B. Fuller. "But good intentions are not enough. The Social Capitalists are so special because they translate that vision into action, and meet the harsh market standards of performance and accountability."

How the Winners Were Chosen

Fast Company, in partnership with the Monitor Group, chose the second annual Social Capitalist Award winners from a pool of 118 organizations, half of them nominated by a panel of prominent funders, academics and other experts, and the rest self-nominated. Each participating organization submitted to a rigorous screening process requiring financial records, business plans, and online surveys. Groups were graded in five distinct categories: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Social Impact, Aspiration and Sustainability. Final grades included adjustments based on structured telephone interviews with each group's executive director and with independent experts qualified to speak about each organization. To learn more about the Fast Company/Monitor Social Capitalist Awards, or to donate money to one of the award winners, visit

About Fast Company

Founded in 1996 and published monthly, Fast Company ( covers ideas, trends and individuals devoted to managing change in today's economy. The magazine was acquired in 2000 by Gruner + Jahr USA, one of America's largest magazine publishers.

About Monitor Group

Monitor Group, a family of strategy, advisory, and merchant banking firms linked by shared knowledge, skills, and experience—is dedicated to enhancing both the competitiveness of its clients and the practical realization of their animating moral purpose.