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The Goldman Sachs Foundation Commits Over Us$1 Million Of Expansion Capital To Room to Read India

February 23, 2007

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Room to Read today announced a major grant from The Goldman Sachs Foundation to support the continued build-out of Room to Read's educational programs in India. The grant brings together one of the world's leading financial institutions and one of the fastest-growing and award-winning new NGOs of the past decade.

The Goldman Sachs Foundation grant will have a significant positive impact on India's educational system by establishing 450 bi-lingual libraries in both urban slums and rural communities over the next three years. Foundation support will also increase the quality and capacity of the educators throughout India with vital teacher training to improve reading skills in children from an early age, thereby laying a foundation for academic achievement. The grant also allows for the donation of over a million books to this network of libraries. An estimated 300,000 children will benefit from these libraries.

The collective aim is to provide access to books and libraries in Delhi and in the rural provinces of Rajasthan and Uttaranchal so children can move beyond their economic situations and have an incentive to stay in school. This program is to be considered a lever of change in their lives that will pave the road for future success and academic achievement. Only by providing these critical educational opportunities will students gain independence and confidence--a vital step in breaking the cycle of poverty.

Despite recent economic growth, India still faces an incredible lack of basic resources for many of its one billion plus people. Poverty is a widespread problem, as is a lack of fundamental educational infrastructure throughout the country. The combination of these factors has resulted in:

  • An estimated 375 million illiterate people in India
  • An average of 56% of children not enrolled in school past grade five
  • Female illiteracy rates are greater than 50% for girls aged fifteen and older

Development, in the form of economic, health and education improvement, and literacy are highly correlated. A young population who can read is a necessary condition for economic growth. Room to Read is working in both urban slums and rural areas throughout India that serve those children who do not have access to children's books, educational games or intellectual stimulation.

"We are very proud to have such a significant and long-term commitment of capital from one of the world's leading foundations", said John Wood, the Founder and CEO of Room to Read. "Our organization's long-term goal is to help at least 10 million children across the developing world to gain the lifelong gift of education, and with this grant we move a significant step closer." Wood, a former Microsoft executive who left the company to start Room to Read, has been called "the Andrew Carnegie of the developing world" by the San Francisco Chronicle in recognition of his team's efforts to build a public library infrastructure for children living in some of the world's poorest countries.

"Goldman Sachs and many of its employees have a long history of involvement with Room to Read. We are very excited to be expanding our commitment to Room to Read in India," said Brooks Entwistle, CEO of Goldman Sachs India.

This grant from the Goldman Sachs Foundation will enable Room to Read to invest in and implement key changes to elevate the quality and sustainability of their programs well into the future. Through the libraries established with the Goldman Sachs Foundation's support, children will receive access to books and other educational resources, teachers will receive training aimed at improving student engagement and library management and children throughout India will be one step closer to literacy and enhanced opportunities for learning and academic achievement.

About The Goldman Sachs Foundation

The Goldman Sachs Foundation is a global philanthropic organization funded by The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. The Foundation's mission is to promote excellence and innovation in education and to improve the academic performance and lifelong productivity of young people worldwide. It achieves this mission through a combination of strategic partnerships, grants, loans, private sector investments, and the deployment of professional talent from Goldman Sachs. Funded in 1999, the Foundation has awarded grants of $94 million since its inception, providing opportunities for young people in more than 20 countries.