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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Room To Read

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, International, International Development, Libraries, Primary & Elementary Schools, Scholarships, Scholarships & Student Financial Aid

Mission: Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in low-income 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: Books Checked Out Per Student: 9.6; Books Published: 1,290; Girls' Education Program Participants: 38,750; Literacy Program Schools: 18,699; Books Distributed: 18 Million; Children Benefited: 10,700,000.

Target demographics: We envision a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world. Room to Read believes that World Change Starts with Educated Children.®

Direct beneficiaries per year: Room to Read benefits approximately one million children each year, and has benefited more than 10 million children to date.

Geographic areas served: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tanzania, 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 long-long, independent readers: •Room to Read’s Literacy Program transforms primary schools into child-friendly learning environments that enable children to develop the skills and habit of reading throughout primary school and become life-long, independent readers. Our intervention includes ensuring the school has a library with books in the children’s local language, as well as teachers and librarians who are trained in the best practices of reading and writing instruction. Key to our program is ensuring that families, communities and governments are all engaged in the transformation of the school and committed to its success. This includes working closely with governments to integrate library services and books into national government curriculum and instruction. Our Girls’ Education Program supports girls to complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions: • Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program ensures that girls complete secondary school and have the skills to negotiate key life decisions. Our program reinforces girls’ commitment to their own education, works with girls to develop essential life skills and increases support for girls’ education among their parents, school staff, and communities. Key to our program are social mobilizers, local women who are hired as mentors and works with girls and their families to ensure that girls stay in school, participate in activities, and navigate the challenges of adolescence with the ability to make their own life choices both personally and professionally.

Community Stories

73 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My passion for gender equality in education led me to Room to Read. I am inspired by their accomplishments as a result of John Wood's "Get Sh"t Done" mantra and their dedication to making a global difference following their motto, "World Change Starts with Educated Children". If you want to get involved, reach out to your local chapter leader and you will be welcomed to our community of dedicated volunteers.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've spent the past five years working with the amazing group of volunteers that comprise the San Francisco chapter of this organization and the global staff at HQ. The future of our planet lies solely in the hands of the next generations, and Erin and the RtR team have somehow harnessed their experience in the startup capital of the world to create a lean non-profit that operates efficiently and effectively. I am awed by the simplicity and scalability of their business model and how it can adapt so well across some of the most under-served communities in Africa and Asia. The best part is the transparency in their operations, including the ability to join the leadership team in site visits!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Room to Read is a rare non-profit organization in that it not only has a critical mission but also manages to execute with tremendous effectiveness and efficiency. I am proud to be associated with such an organization, which is truly changing the world, one library, school, and student at a time. I know of no other charity that can match Room to Read in terms of return on investment or the network of volunteers that is has established around the globe.

Sharon190

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer chapter leader for the past 10 years. I do not put my support,time and resources behind an organization unless I believe in them 100% and Room to Read has earned my respect, trust and admiration for how they conduct their business. This non profit is run like a business and that is what appealed to me the most. This organization is entrepreneurial, transparent, accountable and a leader in its field. The people I have met through volunteering with this organization have truly enriched my life and are a constant source of inspiration.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with Room to Read since 2009, and I do it because Room to Read operates with great efficiency and great ethics. I love that virtually all local staff are truly locals (not expats), that they aren't afraid to adjust their strategy when evidence shows that it is needed (e.g. adding in teacher training), and that they invest in their volunteers (through the Chapter Leaders' Conference, support from full-time staff, etc.).

1 Rebecca176

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We have two mottos at Room to Read: the official one is World Change Starts with Educated Children, and I can guarantee this is the truth. We are starting to see the long-term results of RtR graduates going on to have amazing careers, changing the course of their own lives, their family's and their community. Our unofficial motto is GSD -- Get S*it Done, and we definitely do! I don't know of a better organisation in which to invest your charity dollar/pound/euro etc.

LeoraLangs

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered and worked with nonprofits around the world all my life and I'm super happy and proud to be affiliated with Room to Read. Room to Read is strategic and has a great vision. Working with local governments, organizations, and communities to improve education and gender equality has had a ripple affect that has reached more than 10 Million Children, their families, communities, and countries in a positive manner. Most importantly, in one generation it's changing entire communities in 10 countries with education that empowers children to earn more money than their parents were able to and to treat women and young girls with equality... allowing them to work, marry later, and to gain advance degrees. Reducing childhood mortality rates and much more. I encourage you to learn more about Room to Read's work from their web site.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Previously I was on a nonprofit board, working hard to build a safe house for girls rescued from sex trafficking in Costa Rica. Laws had to be made & systems put into place to help the girls who have been through horrific events when I came across Room to Read at a Networking for A Cause event and learned about their work. My world spun 360 and now I am focused on empower girls & boys with the education and life skills they need to avoid trouble BEFORE it happens. Reading, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World & Creating Room to Read have both empowered me with skills that I use to manage the San Diego Chapter of Room to Read and also to help others manage their nonprofits more effectively. Room to Read's annual Chapter Leadership Conference shares strategy, empower us with tools, and open doors to country directors and supporters around the world. It's all so well run and effective. I love helping Room to Read succeed. World Change Starts With Educated Children!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

"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.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Christina125

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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

Review from #MyGivingStory

Donor

Rating: 5

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

2

Volunteer

Rating: 4

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 :)

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first heard about Room to Read when I read the book called 'Leaving Microsoft to Change the World'. It is written by the Founder of Room to Read - John Wood. I loved this book! Wow what an inspirational story and person!
Then, I wanted to find out more about Room to Read and searched the internet. I found out that there is a very active Room to Read Sydney Chapter and attended their bimonthly chapter meetings to find out more.
I helped out at the 2012 Wine Gala evening, attended trivia nights, Beers for Books, Lattes for Literacy, Book Swaps, City to Surf Fun Run and more. I even helped out for the 2013 Wine Gala remotely whilst living overseas.
I am especially fond of the 'Students Helping Students' and 'Girls Education' aspects of Room to Read. The students at a girls school that I was teaching at in Sydney choose Zambia to make regular donations towards. The students held an annual 'Drop Everything and Read' event to raise money so Zambian girls can attend school for one year. The teachers made a $1 donation to Room to Read each time they had a Nespresso Coffee during the school day for the entire school year. This initiative was called 'Lattes for Literacy' so that Room to Read could publish and deliver reading books to the students in Zambia.

I would encourage everyone and anyone to get involved in the Room to Read organization!

1 Laurie63

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first heard about Room to Read through another networking group I was involved with and immediately became intrigued enough to learn more and within a few months was a committed volunteer then for one year I was the Volunteer Coordinator for the San Diego chapter. I remain committed to our chapter in a lesser role, but am so very proud to be a volunteer for Room to Rwad. The mission and accomplishments are inspiring and I've had the great honor to meet both John Wood and Erin Ganju, truly inspiring individuals.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In 2012, I met founder John Wood and heard him talk about Room to Read, the organization's desire to promote literacy in Asia and Africa, and to reach 10 million children by 2015. Leaving that event, I knew that I had to become part of the global movement to support education and gender equality in education.

Room to Read thrives on new ideas and the spirit of its highly motivated volunteers. In 2013, I became an active volunteer and in 2014 I was asked to become the Chapter Leader. I get a tremendous sense of fulfilment from my volunteer work and I love to share the Room to Read story with close friends and new acquaintences. I feel fortunate to get involved in a variety of volunteer activities with Room to Read including event planning, project management and coordination, operations and logistics, fundraising, awareness building and outreach, volunteer management and succession planning, organizational design, communication and much more.

I'm proud of the organization's success and I'm a firm believer in its mission...as a volunteer, donor, chapter leader and one of the Room to Read's Yak Pack runners participating in the Jungfrau Marathon.