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Room To Read

Rating: 4.94 stars   66 reviews 5,879

Address:

111 Sutter St. 16th Floor San Francisco CA 94104 USA

Mission:

Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, we develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.

Results:

Schools constructed: 1,442 Libraries established: 11,246 Books published: 553 Books distributed: 9.4 million Girls supported: 10,590 Children benefited: 5.1 million

Target demographics:

Students in need of library resources and local language reading materials; and Girls at-risk of dropping out of secondary school

Direct beneficiaries per year:

5.1 million children in primary and secondary school

Geographic areas served:

Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Vietnam, and Zambia

Programs:

Room to Read focuses on two objectives: Literacy and Gender Equality in Education. Our Literacy program enables primary school children to become independent readers: • Room to Read focuses its efforts on developing reading skills and the habit of reading in primary school aged children because literacy is the foundation for all future learning. We do this primarily by establishing multi-lingual libraries, increasing access to age-appropriate and culturally relevant reading materials (including publishing our own original local language children’s books), and improving the child friendliness of the school environment. We’ve recently increased our support for reading instruction including creating materials and providing training for teachers. Our Girls’ Education program supports girls to complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions: • Room to Read focuses on girls transitioning to or in secondary school because that is where the biggest – and most permanent – gaps in gender equality in education take place. We do this primarily through supporting girls to attend school, providing female mentoring and creating more girl-friendly school environments. We’ve recently added more emphasis on teaching life skills to girls so they will finish school and maximize their opportunities.

2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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More Info

415-561-3331
www.roomtoread.org

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Reviews for Room To Read

Rating: 5 stars  

I volunteered with Room to Read for 2 1/2 years when I lived in Hong Kong in the role of Volunteer Co-ordinator. I was caught up by the passion I saw in the volunteers and staff alike and the cause was so obvious with literacy and keeping girls in school at it's heart. But it was the practical approach and the transparency that tipped me to become very rather than a little involved. I have recently moved back to UK where Room to Read also has a very active fund raising presence. Once I'm properly settled I'll be back in to this wonderful organization and finding how I can help here. In the meantime I spread the word whenever I can.

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I have been involved with Room to Read for more than 10 years, both as an employee and a volunteer, and as a donor. It must be rare to sustain a passionate commitment to an organization over such a long period and there are many reasons for this. Some of these have already been mentioned in other reviews. I'd like to emphasize the fact that this is an organization that is constantly evaluating and monitoring its operations and its outcomes, adjusting its programs to achieve maximum effectiveness. The results achieved in just over 15 years have been nothing short of phenomenal. One of my Sydney colleagues commented that Room to Read had changed her life personally and professionally and this is also true for me. I enjoyed the challenge of leading the team which established Room to Read's fundraising presence in Australia and this experience introduced me to many fine friends and colleagues. I am truly proud to be a part of this organization.

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I've been a volunteer with Room to Read for 3 years, and have just returned from a visit to some of their sites in Sri Lanka. I have always believed in their mission--"World change starts with educated children"--but seeing their work in action has deepened my commitment to this organization. The passion of the local managers and teachers, the radical transparency in the way the funds are spent, and the moving and inspiring words of the parents of the children helped have made me a true believer. I did a lot of research before I joined Room to Read and I never found an organization that was making such a profound and measurable difference.

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

"Education is, quite simply, peace-building by another name. It is the most effective form of defense spending there is." Kofi Annan

I've been involved with Room to Read as a volunteer and now a chapter leader since 2008 - definitely my longest continuous involvement with any nonprofit. Annan's quote communicates why I feel the organization's mission is so important. Wouldn't the world be a better place if every child had a right to an independent education?

Based on my long involvement, I've gotten to know the organization well. I so admire their outcomes focus and their research, monitoring and evaluation program. They're always measuring/tracking to see what works best. That information doesn't go on a shelf. They're always fine-tuning programs to reach the most children with effective programs - a true learning organization. When Room to Read found that there were not age-appropriate learning materials for young kids in many countries where they operate (there is no market for kids' books in countries so poor that there is no demand), they set up a book publishing program to support local authors/illustrators so that the materials are culturally relevant. They now publish early reading materials in more than 20 languages.

 
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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Full disclosure: I'm a volunteer chapter leader for Boston, so I'm a bit passionate about Room to Read. During the 4 years that I've volunteered with Room to Read, I've gotten to know many of the staffers and I really respect the organization. These are ethical, committed, driven people. I spent my career in high-tech, so the organization's "get it done" mentality appeals to me. I like the fact that the Room to Read offices in each country in which they operate are staffed by locals, not outsiders. This creates jobs in these countries but perhaps more importantly, provides role models for the students they are supporting. I'm particularly fond of the Girls' Education Program, which provides more than scholarships. The program provides mentoring, life skills workshops and school uniforms and transportation when needed. Last, the Local Language Publishing program is an unsung hero of Room to Read's work - publishing culturally relevant and language appropriate books in the countries where Room to Read works.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I joined Room to Read about a year and a half ago after attending a screening event of Girl Rising. With a background in International Education and having travelled to over 70 countries I could not find a charitable organization that was a more perfect fit for me! The work Room to Read does is amazing and inspiring and I am proud to volunteer for such a well-respected organization!

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I started volunteering with Room to Read 10 years ago this month and can honestly say I have never stayed with an organization this long. They have earned my respect, trust, time and dollars by running a professional, accountable and sustainable model for real change in the world. They have great leadership, they listen and they respond and have become a leader in global education. If you are looking for that one charity that makes a substantial difference in the world look no further than Room to Read. Added bonus they have chapters all over the world with a great network of like minded people who are like family.

 
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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

You Can Buy Happiness. You can buy happiness, not with currency, but with time invested in helping others. I come from a family that values volunteerism. I have volunteered most of my life, and most recently with Room to Read, a global non profit that focuses on literacy and gender equality in education in 10 countries in Africa and Asia. Learning to read launches the ability for a child to grow, learn, dream and become. Room to Read publishes books in the native languages of the countries they work in that reflect the local customs and culture. I have spent the last five years encouraging the youth in our highly educated community to become aware and engaged in the education of their peers on the other side of the globe. We encourage public speaking, event planning and creative fundraising to provide scholarships to girls, and books to kids through the Room to Read programs. I want to foster a lifelong sense of compassion and volunteering in the kids in our community, because true happiness comes through helping others. #thankstoeducation, Room to Read has given 10 million children the opportunity to reach their full potential through literacy. www.roomtoread.org

 
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Review from #MyGivingStory
Rating: 5 stars  

I've been involved with Room to Read for many years both as a volunteer and a donor. My background is in publishing so helping to improve literacy in third world countries is something dear to my heart. Room to Read is extremely well run and has been able to help millions of underprivileged young people throughout the world. The trickle down effect of this will be immense in years to come. Kaybat

 
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Rating: 4 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I have donated and volunteered for many not for profit organisations and often 'fallen out of love' with them as I learn how funds are being used, or the programs ability to make real change, despite great intentions and efforts. So before I decided to support Room to Read I took time to understand their system for raising funds, building school, and improving literacy. I was impressed. I really like the fact that they make real efforts to empower local communities by getting them involved in the building of libraries, training local teachers and the 3 year self sufficiency process each school undergoes. And the student testing, to ensure Room to Read schools do perform. In fact, the literacy rate of its students often outperform those of normal local schools, showing their process is effective in developing literacy and hence giving these kids a real shot at a different future. I also checked Room to Reads Audit by the Bill + Melinda Gates Foundation. An impressive 85% of donations are used directly on projects which means you know donations are making a big difference. Without saying the volunteers and Chapter leaders are passionate people and inspiring to be around too. So they have my support :)

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

There are lots of charities and non profits in aid of Nepal - big and small. But this is one that stands out for us (my husband and I) - and we know this first hand because we were both born in Nepal - the country where John Woods started this amazing journey from. I just love to see constant updates from the organisation be it via blog, the print mail out, newsletters or social media on the "littlest" improvements being made. And we know that our contributions have been well spent. There are just good things this organisation keeps doing.
I should probably also mention that the Sydney chapter team - the leaders & volunteers are pretty amazing.

 
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