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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

74 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love Room to Read and its style of partnering with governments, locals, other nonprofits to create long-term sustainable programs that have changed the lives of and benefited over 12.5 Million Children, their communities, and families with Literacy and Gender Equality programs.

They Tracking Our Impact and Sharing Results! Results that help us and other nonprofit expand their literacy and gender equality programs.

The local language Children's book publishing program has been well managed and allowed great books to get into the hands of children and libraries in very rural areas. At this point there has been over 20 Million Children's Book Distributed along with so much more... Teacher Training, School Buildings, library Buildings, Teacher Training programs

Go to their site www.roomtoread.org and get involved. You'll feel great and love it!

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
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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
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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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I heard John Wood speak about Room to Read in 2012 and was immediately struck by the evident truth of 'World Change starts with Educated Children'. I was impressed by the focussed, efficient and effective organisation. I love the fact, for example, that John travels the world on donated airmiles, staying in donated hotel rooms to keep overhead down and funds raised directed towards the field. Attracted by the 'GSD' (Get Stuff Done!) attitude and my core passions of love of reading and the importance of developing literacy and girls education in the developing world, I joined the Paris volunteer chapter and have been involved with building that up and raising funds and awareness.

As volunteers Room to Read offers us training and support to help spread the word - I've twice attended the worldwide Chapter Leaders conference which was inspirational to better understand the quality of the literacy, girls education & local language publishing programmes and learn from the experiences of the wonderfully dynamic volunteers from all over the world - all dedicated to devoting some of their spare time for this wonderful cause.

In Paris, as well as helping to raise funds for such a worthwhile cause, I've made some great new friends - of all ages, from all walks of life.

Adrian4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've always been a passionate reader and believed strongly in the importance of children learning to read. Having previously worked for large organisations I was impressed to see how Room To Read scales to reach millions of children, and how it actively engages the communities to support and build schools and libraries. I've volunteered at fundraising and awareness raising events and done a fun run in costume as Room To Read's mascot, Zak the Yak. As my job takes me travelling a great deal I also act as the "yak" between Room To Read chapters, delivering books, materials and even the Zak the Yak costume between cities, to help reduce operating costs.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been involved with Room to Read in various capacities since 2009 - donor, volunteer, Chapter Leader, employee - and have always felt that my involvement has always made the best use of by capabilities. As a Chapter Leader in Sydney I had the great privilege of participating in both the annual Chapter Leader conference in San Francisco and Chapter Leader Treks to see Room to Read's work first hand in India and Laos. These opportunities further committed me to the organisation after seeing the commitment and passion of those involved with Room to Read - from the leadership and staff at the head office, the program staff in the countries where we work, and the volunteers across the globe.

For me personally, seeing the children, families and communities that Room to Read works with and their commitment and passion to changing their own lives given that opportunity confirmed for me the world changing impact Room to Read is having - one child at a time. I now see my role as being an advocate for these children by being their voice in my world.

Girls and books changing the world - what is not to love!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After reading John Wood's book 'Leaving Microsoft to Change the World' I knew I just had to get involved with this organisation. I have enjoyed volunteering for RtR on and off in Sydney and London over the last few years and am constantly impressed with the calibre of volunteers it attracts. Everyone is so professional and dedicated to the cause which results in some pretty amazing things happening. It's a pleasure to be part of such a well oiled machine of goodness.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For the past 6 years, I have happily and enthusiastically been a part of the volunteer chapter team in Singapore, raising significant funds for Room to Read’s programs in Asia and Africa. Room to Read is an exceptional non-profit that has received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for the past 8 consecutive years. As a donor and a volunteer, I am confident that Room to Read is using the funds in the most impactful way possible to provide children access to a quality education in developing countries. In fact, I have seen firsthand Room to Read’s operations in Cambodia and Vietnam and have seen the positive outcomes on the children and their communities! It is very evident that Room to Read delivers on their mission – to build quality schools and libraries, provide teacher and librarian training in literacy, to publish local-language books, and to support girls’ education. All of these programs are supported by Room to Read’s “Monitoring and Evaluation” process that uses independent monitors to evaluate the efficacy of their programs. If a program is not producing the desired results, Room to Read will make the necessary changes to improve it. Room to Read continues to evolve and improve its programs. They are committed to excellence! Finally, the programs in each of the ten countries are managed by local teams. This deliberate and strategic model makes for a more sustainable and lasting endeavor.

I have volunteered for other well-known non-profits, but none compare to Room to Read. This is where I want to spend my volunteer time and my donations because the impact is a significant game-changer for so many children!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered for Room to Read because I've seen the impact literacy has on families. I can't imagine a world without words; where you have to ask a stranger what you should pay for a bus ticket or before that, if this is the queue for bus tickets. The feeling of sheer impotence would overwhelm me. Room to Read has a laser focus on educating girls which, in my opinion, is why it succeeds. It stands for something and its people stand for something. The world it moves in is very complex but the goals are simple and few. There is no noise, no chatter, no wondering what it's all about. We know what it's about and we're all working towards the one thing. Clarity of vision is the most powerful thing a non-profit can have, and Room to Read has it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Room to Read is an impressive non profit organisation and I have been involved as a volunteer for the Sydney Chapter. The volunteer and chapter leaders are highly organised and get excellent results from their hard work. The organisation places importance on accountability and the achievements in terms of the number of books, libraries and education programs rolled out, particularly for girls, is inspiring.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the Sydney Chapter of Room 2 Read for just over a year now. The committee is really skilled, friendly and welcoming. Every contribution that you offer is celebrated regardless of whether this is big or small and they offer lots of assistance as you learn about being involved in a nonprofit organisation. This approach is consistent with my experience of how R2R globally has been established and conducted and is integral to the wonderful achievements of the organisation. I encourage you to consider becoming a part of the R2R community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first heard of Room to Read in 2011 in a presentation by the Founder John Wood. What struck me was the business-like structure including partnerships with local communities, a war on overhead, their transparency and accountability. Three years later with a break from full time work I have my chance to help them by funding a school build and doing all I can to raise funds and awareness of Room to Read's great programs so that they can reach 10 million children by 2015.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My involvement with Room to Read started in 2009, after a friend gifted me the book 'Leaving Microsoft to Change the World'. From the get go my involvement with the Sydney Chapter of Room to Read was very rewarding and inspiring. All of the people whom volunteer their time are intelligent, exceptional leaders and it was very satisfying to work alongside and collaborate with these volunteers.

I am particularly drawn to the work that Room to Read does, as I truly believe that it is education that can change the world. Education is the basis for the reduction of poverty, violence, trafficking, disease, political unrest and other ailments that plague the less developed parts of the world.

The 'open book' business style that Room to Read operates in is comforting from a donor point of view. We have the ability to physically see the change that our donations make. Room to Read also does what many charities do not by quantifying and publishing their goals and metrics allowing donors to clearly see and decide for themselves the effectiveness of their donations.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Living close to Asia I am aware of the many problems facing education in the widely diverse regions. Over many years, I have liked the way that Room to Read has adapted to new ideas, learnt from prior mistakes and, in particular, centred the ownership of the local language book publishing and library and school construction on the local communities. Educating the young to learn about the world with the added advantage of incorporating their own languages and perspectives adds to a richer learning experience which benefits not only the local culture but contributes to the world's uniqueness and diversity.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first became aware of Room to Read in I think 2011 or 2012 on stumbling across John Wood's book 'Leaving Microsoft to Change the World'. It is a great read and most inspiring even to those who are not charity minded.
I have become a volunteer at the Sydney Chapter and might I say what a well organised and productive chapter it is. Having run many business over the years I can say that these people are good operators. And they do not waste any funds, its a tight ship.
I have sponsored a library in Nepal which is now completed and I will very much enjoy visiting soon. I also assisted with The Wine Gala in March this year where we raised $2.4m, in the room on the night, which I still think is extraordinary. But to see Room to Read in operation it is actually not that extraordinary. These people deliver results.
One of the features of Room to Read that I find appealing is their focus on the solution to global illiteracy rather than being preoccupied the problem. Of course there is a major problem, that is why Room to Read and others are working in this area, but Room to Read attention is on what can be realistically achieved and where. I also like their follow up, assisting in areas on an ongoing basis not just building schools and leaving it for the villages to run them. And with this their ongoing measuring of their results. This is not a charity handing out funds to the needy. It is a well organised operation where the recipients must be shareholders in the plan and must take ownership.
I am sure Room to Read are assisting in educating and developing productive and worthy citizens in the countries where they operate and could not recommend the organisation more highly.
John Baker
Sydney

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In 2012 my wife and I read John Wood's book " Leaving Microsoft to Change the World "
We were truly inspired and set about becoming involved together with our family ...both daughters and including our 5 grandchildren.

We set ourselves a goal of raising $ 20,000 in 2013 to fund and resource a library in Cambodia.
We worked closely with Room to Read Sydney and organised a large number of functions. With the generous support of friends and family, we raised $ 40,000. This included many functions arranged organised by our grandchildren at their schools.

Our major fund raising event was a food and wine festival which our family organised in a suburb of Sydney where we had 55 local companies participate. I have now joined the Rotary Club of St Ives and they have kindly agreed to make the St Ives Food and Wine Festival their major annual fund raising event and will donate half of all funds to Room to Read.

In March, we attended the Wine Gala in Sydney where we met John Wood who gave a superb speech and which raised over $ 2.4 million dollars. One of our friends at our table was so inspired that he decided that all his donations to charity will in future be given to Room to Read.

We maintain our ongoing commitment to Room to Read and my wife and I are taking all our family to Cambodia to the opening of the library built by Room to Read. This will further inspire our grandchildren to support the biggest challenge in the world which is improving access to education and providing literacy.

Peter Lorschy Sydney Australia

Donor

Rating: 5

I first became aware of Room to Read through a friend who initially volunteered with them, and is now a Chapter Leader. I found John Wood's book to be inspirational, and have lent it to friends to spread the word. I initially fundraised for Room to Read by running a marathon, and recently have contributed part of my wedding gifts to them. I have chosen my donations to go to Girl's Education as I am a fervent believer in equal opportunities in education which unfortunately are not reflected everywhere.
Room to Read is an efficient, effective charity that follows through on its promises, from the very small to the world changing.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Room to Read since late 2012, after reading John Wood's book. My twin boys, parents and sister and her entire family all came on board and we decided to work together to raise funds to build a library in Cambodia. We had never attempted anything like this before but all felt so passionately that the cause is critical and this organisation is professionally, efficiently and passionately run by a worldwide group of people totally committed to making a difference and to helping those who don't have but deserve to have the right to an education.

I highly recommend anyone seeking to work for change, to join Room to Read!

It has changed our lives as much as those we have raised the funds for. Our family has learnt an immeasurable amount from this experience...which we all continue to be actively involved in.

Donor

Rating: 5

I've been involved with Room to Read for over 10 years. Having worked with John Wood at Microsoft, I never doubted Room to Read's ability to achieve -- and often exceed -- every ambitious goal they've ever set. That's one reason why I've been involved for so long, but there's so many others... Room to Read is incredibly effective & efficient, there's amazing transparency and incredible dedication & passion in the professionals and volunteers involved with the organisation. Most importantly for me, the way Room to Read engages with the communities they work in is nothing short of inspirational . Yes Room to Read builds schools, libraries, and give scholarships but for me their most enduring legacy is hope and optimism. That's why I am such a HUGE fan.

Donor

Rating: 5

I invested in the building of four separate libraries in Cambodia since 2010. I was attracted to Room to Read mainly due to the self help model where 15% of the funds required came from the local community giving them ownership and pride in the project - ensuring sustainability.
Education of the youth in these developing countries, in my view, gives the best bang for your buck. (Teach a man to fish)
The fact that I was able to dedicate each library to a loved one with a dedication plaque on the inside wall, was the deal closer.
I visited Cambodia in Feb 2014 with my wife and so so happy with the local Room to Read organisation I invested in another library. Amazing work by Room to Read.

Dave - Sydney, Australia

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization cannot be recommended highly enough. They are highly transparent and without any agenda other than to maximize their impact on world literacy through the most efficient means. It is not for those who are interested in being seen to do good RtR is for people who actually want things to happen.
Their operation is very lean and is very effective. The people in the Sydney chapter (volunteers) are very welcoming and friendly.
Anyone interested should read the book by John Wood first and you will be won over.

Barry14

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Like many, I first learned of Room to Read from reading John Wood's first book. As an IT person the title was compelling! Having read it, I got in touch with the Sydney chapter. I've done a little work in the Non-profit sector before and felt that though the organisations I'd worked with were well-intentioned, I didn't necessarily share the same ethos when it came to getting things done. This is so different at Room to Read - the organisation is very goal oriented, ambitious (look at the goals of the Destination Literacy Campaign), well organised, metric-oriented and fun. At no point though do you forget why you're involved and the thing I particularly love about Room to Read is that volunteers get to experience the tangible benefits of their fundraising - seeing, hearing, meeting the children whose lives they've changed, the opportunity to build a library or school in parts of the world that really needs their assistance. Intellectually, it's a no brainer too - education is the key to world change. World Change starts with educated children.
It's a great organisation to be a part of and I'm very proud to be associated with it.
Barry Murphy

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I fell into Room to Read by serendipity as I was looking to donate a personal monument to someone dear to me whom I lost. Having worked in a extensive corporate (and also academic) background, I set a high bar for the charity organisation I would commit to going through due diligence like that of a corporate merger and acquisition. The questions I had extensive and the scepticism was high as I always felt the charity sector was less than effective.

All this was more than adequately when I had to go and see for myself whether the funds were being put to the right use for such a worthy cause. to that end, I visited Vietnam and Laos (two of the countries that Room to Read was in) and saw first-hand an impressive and meticulous approach to charity. The patience in answering my questions, the look of hope on the children and the pride of the families just overwhelmed me and from there i was sold on the effectiveness, transparency and governance. Never one to stop, I kept setting the bar and continued quizzing Room to Read till today. And till today, it has never disappointed

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've loved reading for most of my 50yrs. Being a regular international traveller over the last 15 yrs I peruse the books in the airports we travel through frequently and it was here more than 5yrs ago that I picked up John Wood's book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. Read it in a couple of days, visited the Australian website on a return journey and volunteered from that point.

Why? There is no greater empowerment than literacy in our world. There is no higher need than to equalise humanity via this beautiful level - that so many of us enjoy and take for granted. And there is still so very little that is done to correct ignorant gender bias in respect of girls' education whether that is due to conflict, cultural issues, religion or poverty or anything else.

John Wood had his defining moment in Nepal and made a promise and saw it through and has not stopped. I love the transparency of Room to Read. I adore that it has created and continues to do so, brand new local industries in the form of publishing, illustration, and social community welfare with and respectfully through local people. I love that people in countries where very few cared before now have a publishing industry thriving with books in their local language. I love that more and more children can get to go to school, that more and more girls are afforded the right they have to get an education and that more and more communities will be strengthened and lifted out of poverty to better their lives but more importantly their communities lives and hence their countries.

I am proud and privileged to do the little that I do as a volunteer for Room to Read - it shares in my mind the excellence, transparency, commitment and results of an NGO on par with Medecins Sans Frontieres which is the only other NGO I give my time and resources to.


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Volunteer

Rating: 5

Barely two years ago I read John Wood's book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. I finished the book in a few days, went onto the website for Room to Read and ask how I could help or volunteer. I give my time to only two other fully transparent and amazing NGO's - Medecins Sans Frontieres and Youth off the Streets. Along now with Room to Read these NGO's deal with and are effective with the most simplest of concepts. Understanding humanity, caring for humans and believing that World Change begins with children, MSF with their amazing work around the globe, YOTS and their incredible care of abused and forgotten children and young people and Room to Read - their own catch-cry being very correctly: World Changes Starts with Educated Children - empowering girls/women in particular in developing nations to equalize the phenomenal imbalance that we all know exists in regards to the genders and education. Anyone needs only look at the Room to Read statistics now over 12 years, go visit sites in 10 countries, or even whilst in countries where R2R operates talk to the local people. I'm proud to be a very small part of an amazing NGO that hourly, daily, yearly is making the world a much better place for humans.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Room to Read for me is the perfect combination of values alignment and an opportunity to put all my skills to work in a way that truly matters. I'm passionate about literacy and equality, and I like getting things done well and done now! Volunteering for Room to Read lets me apply my coordination, communications and strategic planning skills and provides the opportunity to meet and work with amazing people - both locally and across the globe. I have a greater appreciation for the reality of growing up without books and the opportunity to learn - and the chance to make a tangible difference to addressing these crises across the globe. Room to Read is not only changing lives in the developing work but also changing the paradigm for not for profit management in the developed world. That's an organisation I'm keen to support!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Room to Read achieves wonderful things with limited resources and minimal overhead. I support Room to Read because it is fiscally responsible, continually improves upon its programmes and has such a positive long-term impact upon the communities it works with. World Change Starts With Educated Children!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A not for profit with a positive solution to help individuals and communities who have been dealt a more challenging start to life. I became a volunteer once I learned how Room to Read gets communities to buy in and help create their own solutions (by having communities contribute to new schools, libraries, etc that are built) and through finding and nurturing leaders on the ground where the projects are being done. And by transparently having investors know exactly where the money goes to. I love how the organisation keeps its focus and still constantly innovates its positive solution - by changing both is projects on the ground and how its volunteer chapters continue to raise funds and awareness. I have been volunteering for over three years and look forward to continuing far into the future.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I truly believe Room to Read’s tag line – “World Change Starts with Educated Children”.

After a quick introduction to Room to Read in 2012, I have had the extraordinary opportunity to visit Room to Read’s work in Nepal, see the programmes first hand and see the impact that these programmes have made in the lives of the children they reach. I have also had the pleasure of engaging with my family to raise funds (and awareness) towards the goal of building a library in Cambodia, which we are excited to be visiting in December 2014.

I look forward to continuing and growing my involvement with Room to Read. As an organisation Room to Read is very professional and transparent - it does what it says it will do and it measures what it does. It is very much run like a business, with clear goals and outcomes.

As a volunteer with Room to Read I am confident my efforts are making a significant difference in the lives of children who benefit from Room to Read. I am also confident as a donor that my financial contributions are being invested efficiently and wisely with great impact.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I heard John Wood on ABC 702 earlier this year and was so impressed with everything about Room to Read, not only the work they do (which is amazing) but the professionalism and the growth of the organisation, that I googled it. I was delighted to see they were looking for people to help in the Sydney office. Consequently, I have only been working with Room to Read for the past two weeks, but I am seriously enjoying it. One example of professionalism, comes in the form of timesheets - over the years I have done a lot of volunteer work - never before have I had to give in a timesheet! This, to me, not only sums up the professionalism, it also indicates to me, that they value my time given. I look forward to being involved with Room to Read for the long haul...

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I discovered Room to Read while doing a research paper on non-profit organisations for education, and was impressed by their operating model which prioritises local community involvement and implementation. I then volunteered with their Sydney Chapter which focuses on fund raising, but at the same time was privy to more information and updates on projects and progress in the various communities that the organisation had reached. In particular the facilitation of access to education for girls in Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka struck a chord, as these girls' families were previously unable to afford their school fees. Thanks to help from Room to Read, the girls have access to education designed for their local context and are doing well in school.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Where else in the world would you find an organisation so dedicated to giving children a shot at a better life? I've always believed that the way out of poverty is education, Room to Read is doing something about that. It's why I volunteer.

1 Peter49

Volunteer

Rating: 5

First heard about Room to Read 2 years ago when I heard an interview with John Wood(founder of Room to Read) on the radio. Loved the story of how it all started. Read his book and really wanted to get involved. Have arranged a number of fund raising activities as well being involved with activities organised with the Sydney chapter. Whilst I love being involved in the organised chapter activities , I probably get the biggest buzz from the activities I have organised( which have raised approx $3700) so far as none of that money would have happened if I had not done it. Particularly love the fact that RTR helps girls to get an education and how this will flow through generations as they educate their children and so on.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Room to Read gets five stars from me for a number of reasons

1) It is a very effective organisation - it does what it says on the packet - and does it in a very cost-effective way, with tangible and transparent results

2) It is run like a business, so there are clear goals and outcomes - this makes it easily accessible to donors, volunteers and other interested parties

3) The tagline "World Change Starts with Educated Children" sums it up nicely. Room to Read does educate children, but it goes way beyond this by supporting them into university, providing life skills classes, teaching girls how they can make a positive impact on their communities, and how to say no to things that they don't want.

Volunteering for Room to Read has changed my life - professionally and personally - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

2 Mary262

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the experience of working with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations on both the personal and professional level over the past twenty-five years. In 2007 I discovered Room to Read and knew that the the bar for professionalism and transparency had been raised to an entirely new level. Room to Read is a game-changer for millions of children throughout the developing world. As a volunteer, I have had the opportunity to visit some of the program sites in both India and Cambodia. Through these experiences, I have seen the impact that Room to Read programs have made in the lives of the children they reach. As a donor, I am confident that my contributions are being invested prudently and efficiently. All contributions made to this organization are truly making a significant difference in the lives of the children who benefit from Room to Read programs.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

Over the last twenty years I have worked with and volunteered for countless nonprofit organizations that work domestically and internationally. I can say with confidence I have never been more impressed with and proud to be a part of the Room to Read family. Five years ago the company I work for was searching for a global nonprofit focused on literacy we could partner with as our long term pro bono partner. The criteria we set for our partner was high and the search was extensive. After reading Leaving Microsoft to Change the World our leaders could see the organization operates much like a business – they focus on measured results, efficiency and scalability. They are also a “learning organization,” meaning they listen to and observe the communities and the individuals they serve so that they can always improve. Given their approach, it’s no surprise their passionate and dedicated staff have brought access to education to nearly 8 million children in just over a decade. With a belief that world change starts with educated children, all of the employees, donors and volunteers can be confident their efforts are indeed making a difference.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Room to Read is committed to sustainable world change in every aspect of their operations. From the passionate talent that they recruit around the world to the ongoing innovation that defines their literacy and girls' education programs, Room to Read is a true leader in the non-profit sector. The leadership of the organization has set the bar for excellence high and Room to Read continues to meet the challenge in delivering life-changing educational opportunities to deserving children around the world.

Donor

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to visit a Room to Read school in India and all I can say is WOW!!! To see the impact that the organization makes on so many children's lives every day is truly amazing. Very well-run org with high quality staff doing great work. Happy to be a supporter of their efforts to increase literacy around the world.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with many international organizations, both large and small. Room to Read has found the most passionate and intelligent people from around the world who are dedicated to making a difference in the field of literacy and gender equality in education. And, this is especially true for the country office staff who implement the work on the ground. These are local teams who run in-country operations and not only know what is needed for their own country, but have a commitment to making the children in their country gain an education and be literate.

David175

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been hearing about Room to Read from my girlfriend, who is an education advocate and a Room to Read donor and supporter—she loves them. After watching Half the Sky, I studied their website and was really impressed with their results. Hard to believe they've built nearly 17,000 schools and libraries in just 11 years. I'm sold—and have volunteered to work with Room to Read this Fall.

3 Melanie D.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first heard about Room to Read five years ago. I contacted them immediately after reading an article about them, and have worked with them as a consultant ever since. I am also a Room to Read donor. I work with many non-profit organizations, and it's interesting to see how they are all run differently. Room to Read is special because they are incredibly efficient. They work much like a corporation in terms of reaching the highest levels of accountability. Everyone I have met at Room to Read is super professional, smart and fully engaged in their mission. As someone who has been able to look "under the hood," I can tell you that I'm even more convinced that Room to Read is one of the best social change organizations out there. With all the bad news we hear constantly, my involvement with Room to Read has given me an opportunity to see that good work and positive change is happening everyday.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first learned of Room to Read while living in Singapore. I served as a volunteer for the 2013 Singapore Gala, which raised an incredible amount of money for the program. Room to Read is a wise steward of funds donated and as such, I trust them with not only my time, but with my money.

I am madly in love with the Reading and Writing program as well as the commitment they make to the education process, by following it all the way through tertiary education and beyond.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Room to Read is a great nonprofit that really means a great deal to me. In my school I started a Room to Read Club in order to raise money and do community service, for example reading to children or having book drives. This organization is well developed and they have chapters all across the world. The money that is raised goes to building libraries or educating children. When I first heard about it from an active volunteer, I was not sure how reliable it was with the investment of money; however, it is honestly one of the best nonprofits that I personally have ever worked with. I support it gladly and with my club I am trying to make this fantastic organization more known to teenagers my age.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I first learned about Room To Read after watching the documentary "Half the Sky" and immediately picked up John Wood's book, "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World." I was shocked to learn that over 790MM people (67% female) worldwide lack the ability to read and write. Therefore, putting them in a very disadvantaged position in terms of earning potential, being independent, and educating their own children.

The facts are simple, educated women have smaller, healthier families, earn more, help stimulate the economies of their underdeveloped countries, and are more likely to educate their own families. Therefore, investing in a girl's education can end the cycle of poverty in just one generation.

As a young woman, who's access to a quality education has had such a strong impact on my success and happiness, I believe it's important for us to do what we can to work towards a world where every child has the same opportunity.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5


Room to Read is an organization unlike any other. Aside from their wonderful, knowledgable and incredibly talented employees, they also boast an amazing volunteer chapter network (which I am proudly a member of) represented within 52 countries.

It's this volunteer chapter network and Room to Read's incredible commitment to keeping internal costs low, that has enabled the organization to contribute 83% of annual revenue in 2012 directly to projects. In addition, they have been recognized for seven consecutive years with Charity Navigator's coveted 4-star rating for their commitment to accountability and transparency.

Donor

Rating: 5

I discovered the work of Room to Read when I first saw the film "Half the Sky," and I started to follow their work. I love where they work, what they work on and, in particular, their impact on bringing young girls access to education.

I am a donor and will be for the rest of my life. These guys are meeting a serious need.

Di__

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer fundraiser for 4 years now and am just as impressed with this charity as when I started. Particularly, I appreciate the focus on efficient and effective use of my money to maximize impact on children's education. I like how they are constantly monitoring what they do and adjusting programs and methodology to ensure success. I don't have a lot of money to donate, and I really want my money to go far in support of kids. With Room to Read I feel confident that it does. Check their website and I think you will be quite impressed with the programs and their results. I originally found Room to Read via John Wood's book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. He just published a second book called Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at Room to Read for 4 months, and in that time I learned what a phenomenal organization it is. It truly lives up to its reputation as one of the most effective and well-run organizations in the country. The staff are talented, passionate and dedicated. They work long hours and maintain high standards of organization and efficiency. They are also very attentive to and appreciative of their volunteers!