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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 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.


Previous Stories

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.