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Spotlight On: Room to Read
Room to Read started with book donations to a rural community in Nepal. Founded by ex-Microsoft executive John Wood, they are now a global organization dedicated to promoting and enabling education through programs focused on literacy and gender equality in education. They achieve this goal by establishing school libraries, building schools, publishing local language children's books, training teachers on literacy education and supporting girls to complete secondary school with the life skills neccessary to succeed in school and beyond.

Room to Read Banner 1

It all started with the goal of a hike in the Himalayas that led to a few hundred children's books being delivered to a school in Nepal by Zak The Yak in 2000 to a worldwide effort to educate children. Now Room to Read is among the top 100 nonprofits in the world and has received the highest ranking, four stars, from Charity Navigator for six years in a row! Room to Read has created a well connected network of local communities, partner organizations and governments working together in ten countries throughout the world with the common goal of promoting and enabling education through programs focused on literacy and gender equality in education. They achieve this goal by establishing school libraries, building schools, publishing local language children's books, training teachers on literacy education and supporting girls with the life skills necessary to succeed in school and beyond. Since 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of more than six million children in Asia and Africa with:

14,000 Children's Libraries Established
2,000 Schools Constructed
710 Localized Children's Books Published
11.5 Million Children's Books Distributed to Libraries & Schools
17,000 Girls Received Scholarships & Support to Stay in School
6 Million Children Benefit from Room to Read Programs

Over 50 Chapters of volunteers around the world work closely with Room to Read to share the stories, projects, programs, and successes of the organization, all aiming to reach 10 million children by 2015.

Room to Read Library

Why literacy and gender equality?

Literacy is the cornerstone of all learning and fundamental for participation in today's global society, yet 793 million people across the globe lack the ability to read and write. That includes every medicine bottle, employment ad and ballot form they encounter. Of all the illiterate people in the world today, two-thirds are female and over 90 percent live in developing countries.

Educating girls and women is widely acknowledged as the most powerful and effective way to address global poverty. Women who finish secondary school earn more money, have smaller, healthier families, and are more likely to educate their own children—breaking the cycle of illiteracy in one generation.

Room to Read partners with communities across the developing world to promote literacy and gender equality in education by establishing libraries, constructing classrooms, publishing local-language children's books, training educators and supporting girls' education. We believe all children deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential, and that investing in education now will pay dividends for generations to come.

Where We Work

Room to Read currently operates in ten countries in Asia and Africa. In each country, we adapt our five core programs to suit the individual needs of the population in question, ensuring that each dollar spent has the most possible impact on the children we serve.

We employ local teams which are personally invested in their nation's educational progress, and familiar with the challenges ahead. They speak the language, know the customs, and understand what it takes to implement each program successfully.

RtR African Girl Reading
RTR classroom

Group Site Visits

Our group site visits offer the unique opportunity to experience our work first hand and to directly engage in our mission of providing the life-long gift of education for millions of children throughout Asia and Africa. Group site visits are hosted by our local staff and are designed for independent travelers such as existing donors, volunteers, and other interested parties. Site visits are a half-day to a full-day in length and offer our guests an overview of the variety of programs we are implementing in these regions. Site visits may include a visit to a Room to Read school, library, or a short visit with participants in our Girls' Education Program.

Room to Read: San Diego Chapter

The San Diego chapter of Room to Read is comprised of groups of individuals who have made a long-term volunteer commitment to promoting Room to Read within their networks and communities. The chapter organizes a variety of fundraising and awareness generating events to introduce potential corporate, foundation and individual supporters to Room to Read's effective programs. Individuals can get involved in a variety of ways from working with schools, diaspora, international groups and universities to corporations, trade associations, and other groups of like-minded individuals in San Diego by leveraging existing programs including Students Helping Students, Zak The Yak, International Literacy Day plus much more.

For more information on the San Diego Chapter, please visit:
For more information on all Room to Read programs, please visit:

Information, graphics and photos courtesy of:
Leora Langs
Corporate and Individual Engagement
Room to Read San Diego
Email: [email protected]
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