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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

READ (Rural Education and Development) Global

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, Education, Human Service Organizations, Human Services, Libraries, Microfinance, Rural Economic Development

Mission: READ Global believes empowering rural communities is critical to alleviating global poverty. We envision a world where individuals, families and entire communities have access to the knowledge, resources and opportunities necessary to build more prosperous futures. READ partners with communities in rural Asia to create vibrant places to live and thrive. Our proven and replicable model focuses on Community Library and Resource Centers as a vehicle for social and economic transformation. Combining education, enterprise and community development, READ collaborates with rural communities to build these centers and seed for-profit enterprises to ensure long-term maintenance and success.

Results: 2.3 rural villagers have access to READ Centers. 300 villages worldwide are served by READ Centers. 4,500 books, on average, in each READ Center. 97 READ Centers established to date. 130 for-profit enterprises sustain READ Centers. (2016)

Target demographics: Low-income rural communities in South Asia

Direct beneficiaries per year: 4,683 villagers learn livelihood skills, 2,002 villagers learn to read, 1.1 million villagers access the Internet, 1,248 receive computer training, 4,227 receive health training, 2,639 women receive legal rights training, and more

Geographic areas served: Rural South Asia (Bhutan, India and Nepal)

Programs: Literacy, livelihood skills, women's empowerment, information and communications technology (ICT), health, environment, legal rights

Community Stories

14 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been using my expertise in Art as a therapy at Read India past 6 months & have been associated with Read past couple of years to train the rural people in parenting & even empowering them through art. It has been the most satisfying experience & work at Read especially because of its humanistic approach towards their vision. The visits & hard word of the Director & the other leaders, specialists & staff into the most challenging areas of the country to be able help the rural people with education & including them in the society by empowering all age groups is commendable! Each member speaks the language of compassion & concern! The country Director's efforts & guidance makes Read a very knowledgeable place to work with! I wish & pray for their success in their vision!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been involved in READ Nepal's programs since early 2000 in meetings as well as a library trainer.
I know this institution very well and appreciate its works very much.
Services catered by READ is very appreciable because of community empowerment and participatory involvement of rural people. READ not only establish and run libraries but also organize different humanitarian development activities at the community level.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am the president of Jhuwani Center; READ supported CLRC. Before READ came to our village, I wasn’t satisfied with the level of contribution that I could provide for the rest of my community. I used to feel like my life was being wasted, and that my privileges were not being put to good use. However, due to READ’s goal of increasing community participation, I was provided with a lot of promising opportunities to utilize my leadership in a positive manner. READ gives the community members a lot of say into its activities, and is willing to patiently listen to any and all opinions regarding its activities. I believe this has greatly increased the sense of self-worth among the community members.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I recently visited four of READ's centers in Nepal and was truly impressed with their dynamic programs and life-changing work. Their libraries provide a platform for positive change and growth in rural communities. The programs run through the libraries are making an impact across sectors including health, education, and economic development. In fact, at each center I visited, local residents were literally lining up to tell me personal stories of how the READ center had positively changed their lives!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've visited READ's operations in Nepal and was completely blown away by the depth of impact READ is having in rural communities. Villagers truly "own" the READ centers, ensuring that they are vibrant, dynamic places where all genders and ethnicities are welcome to come, read a book, join a co-op, participate in a training, or practice leadership skills. READ makes a quantifiable impact on each community with which it partners, and that is a rare feat indeed.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

READ does not need any review as the MODEL and functioning simply deserves appreciation as it stands true to its MISSION. I very strongly feel READ is a very DYNAMIC non profit organisation as IT keeps no profit for itself but gives much beyond to the RURAL Communities and society thus adding to the holistic development of a country. I am privileged to be associated with READ which is a rainbow of BOOKS, LIBRARY, LITERACY, OPPORTUNITIES and much BEYOND...... MY SALUTE and BEST WISHES to READ in all the En devours.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been an ICT practitioner in India for over 16 years. As a member of the ICT community in India I travel and interact with many NGOs in remote locations India. I have a personal network of over 200 Non government organizations who are part of the engo group. I have visited the READ center in a remote village called Geegargh in Rajasthan and seen the change a library and women's empowerment can do. The READ model is surely a best practice to be replicated as it works closely with communities building a eco-system of change. The Read centre in Rajasthan works with village women who have never gone to school, it provides them functional literacy and creates community groups which work together to create new livelihood and economic independence.

Seed

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to meet with staff, volunteers and community members at READ Centers in both India and Nepal. I met individually with staff from all four countries in which READ operates. The commitment and dedication of the staff is exceptional. What makes READ unique is their ability to engage communities as partners in their own development efforts. They do not have a "donor" mindset, but an entrepreneurial "partner" mindset. Having met the staff and seen READ Centers in action, I can say confidently that READ's programs have a tremendous impact on rural communities.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have witnessed the ways in which the libraries that READ Nepal sponsors in Nepal have transformed the lives of many people in the country. READ libraries are much more than libraries, they are development centers. Many libraries have opened cooperatives for micro-credits and provide trainings and education programs that help people from the Bottom of Pyramid to become more productive and economically independent. Furthermore, children can go to the library to read, study and play after school in a good environment instead of joining gangs and taking wrong habits. READ Nepal is a role model to me and has inspired my social work. Thank you!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been association with READ Nepal since its initiation time. Being myself as librarian, I have visited many READ supported libraries. Sustainability has been the essence of READ model under which each community library is financially sustained by income generation projects. Sense of ownership is also the READ’s model; the community treats the library as their own which is an excellent practice. READ supported community libraries are not just a library but also the centre of educational development, improvement in livelihood, social awareness, women’s empowerment, health awareness, and access to ICT and so on. So, I am proud to say that READ Library has been the catalyst for uplifting an entire community.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

READ Global has played an integral role in the start-up of Empower Generation, a social enterprise that supports women-led renewable energy businesses in Nepal. Since the very beginning, it has been a pleasure to work with READ Nepal. They are very knowledgable and helpful and are the ones that introduced us to the communities we are now working with. They are our most valuable partner and through them we are able to access communities, using the libraries as a platform to create awareness about the benefits of renewable energy technology and social enterprise.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

From a travel article I worte after visitng Nepal: NEPAL: CHANGING LIVES ONE LIBRARY AT A TIME –
At age 52, Tulasi Shrestha, whose parents wouldn’t let her attend school because she was a girl, is finally learning to read. Shikha Gauchan, after receiving training on a computer, has vastly increased her business to foreign trekkers by promoting her guesthouse on Facebook. Children who once couldn’t pass the entrance exams to further their education have so excelled that the community built a secondary-level school to accommodate them.
All of this is thanks to READ (Rural Education and Development) Global, which is transforming the lives of villagers throughout Nepal. READ is an independent 501(c)3 created in 1991 by the tour company Myths and Mountains. Although Myths and Mountains conducts tours to as many as 17 different countries, visiting the READ libraries of Nepal adds a whole new dimension to traditional sightseeing itineraries.
I early on recognized that the term “library” was a misnomer; “community resource center” is a much more accurate description. Yes, there are books –- numbering from 900 in the smaller centers to 8000 and growing, in Nepalese, English and Hindi, in the larger ones -– but the list of services offered, which vary according to the specific needs of the village, include literacy classes, computer training, early childhood education and day care, women’s empowerment programs, micro-financing and credit services, health, nutrition and AIDS-awareness information and more.
But first, some background. Dr. Antonia (Toni) Neubauer, president of Myths and Mountains, first visited Nepal in 1983, and started her tour company five years later. During a trek to the Everest region that same year, knowing she wanted to give something back to the country she had come to love, she asked her guide, Domi Lama Sherpa, “What is it your village needs most?” His reply: a library.
She started collecting money herself and then through Myths and Mountains. As a result, 8 porters carried 900 books over a 12,000 foot pass into the remote village of Junbesi, and READ's first Community Library and Resource Center opened in Domi’s hometown in 1991. He moved to New York shortly thereafter and does not know that he has since become a national hero.
Early on, Toni learned of other well-meaning efforts in many countries which ultimately failed because they had been started and abandoned without becoming economically viable. A local headmaster told her, “Westerners build us clinics, build us schools and then leave and expect us to take care of them, but we are just poor farmers.” And she realized that although “we had the best of intentions, we were just creating liabilities for a village rather than funding an asset.” From the beginning she knew that if the library (read Community Resource Center) was not self-sustaining, it would not work; it had to be an economic asset as well as a social and educational one.
Thus, the village of Tukche has a furniture factory; Jhuwani operates an ambulance service; Jomsom rents out storefronts which sell crafts, produce and other necessities, and the Laxmi Library in Syangia built a radio station that galvanized the whole community and is now supporting a staff of 33 people enabling the library to pay off all its loans and become financially secure. The more successful the underlying financial enterprise, the more successful the community center.
And the centers’ impact on the villages is life-altering. Many are in remote areas in which children did not attend school, women could not read, and men could not support their families. Now, teachers and librarians trained by READ are providing education for young children throughout Nepal. Women are gathering together in village after village to not only learn to read but become economically self-sufficient while finding strength through numbers to resist the domestic violence that is often so pervasive among families in poverty. According to READ, the return rate on investment of micro-financing projects for women is 99%. And men and women are working together to create financially successful projects to support and sustain the libraries.
Everywhere we traveled, community leaders paid homage to Toni through some variation of the sentiments expressed by the president of the Jhuwani Library: “She removed a cloud of ignorance and illiteracy from our village, and replaced it with education, self-respect and prosperity.” And her response was always one of gratefulness to the villagers who, in creating their own dream, made her vision possible.
Because there is ongoing political turmoil in Nepal, all libraries and the different factions within the communities have to agree in writing to be Zones of Peace –- non-political, non-religious, non-governmental. And recently, libraries across the country have formed a coalition –- the Nepal Community Library Association –- and are now trading ideas and success stories and are themselves lobbying the government for even more support in building in rural areas.
According to Toni, this is a crucial development: “The idea of Nepalese having a sense of their own power in furthering the libraries is still in its infancy but has tremendous potential for future development.”
And her efforts have not gone unrecognized domestically. In 2006, READ Nepal received the Bill and Melissa Gates $1 million Access to Learning Award, which allowed READ to pursue similar efforts in India and Bhutan. And at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting held in September 2010, Bill Clinton announced READ’s commitment to empower 16,000 women and adolescent girls in rural Bhutan, India and Nepal during the next four years by building 20 women’s centers within new READ Library and Community Resource Centers.
Traveling from library to library, hearing story after story of how the centers have brought hope and prosperity beyond imagination, affected me in ways no monument, scenic byway or sightseeing tour ever could. The excitement, so emotionally heartfelt, among all the people there was infectious. I left each library filled with awe and respect for what all these people –- young and old, men and women, READ staffers and community volunteers –- have accomplished, and though admittedly misplaced, even a sense of personal pride on Toni’s behalf.
So yes, we visited temples, shrines and monasteries galore. We trekked the
Annapurna Circuit for hours. We rode elephants in the Chitwan Jungle. And learned of the Buddhist and Hindu cultures. In that sense it was a tour like any other. But seeing the country through the eyes of READ Global was an enlightening and inspirational experience that no ordinary tour can equal. For more information about Myths and Mountains, visit mythsandmountains.com; for READ Global, contact readglobal.org.




1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

I would not support this organization and the libraries that they have created are not financially sustainable and not used by the public. When the communities know that visitors coming, the visits are staged with community members and children placed in the libraries to make it look like they are well used. When one visits the libraries unannounced, they are often not open.

Review from Guidestar

14

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Thanks for your interest to Burundi, especially to me by addressing me this message. Scholars say that one learns by using one or more of our human senses, and reading is one way accessible to many in the Western World; yet rare in developing nations. As I travelled a lot in USA, Sweden and Netherlands, and saw how reading places a big part in shaping the minds, thinking and behaviour of this wealth world, I realized that this method of changing the nation (through reading), if it can be avalaible to our people, then they can be transformed, live peacefully together and reach a very good standard of social and economic development. Myself, I learnt and I am still learning many new ways, ideas, innovations and practices through reading. I have not yet met your founder, Antonia Neubauer; but I value and appreciate very much her/his innovative approach to development and poverty eradication, especially in Africa. I have not even yet visited any of your libraries in Nepal. To conclude, many of my studies in Community Development, I did them through reading books, also I have shared this innovative and powerful transforming approach to many in Burundi, and their eyes got opened and minds inspired to the extend of telling me, “You know, we have gone to our universities bookstore and start reading. Please do your best so that we can get at least one Community Library here in Burundi.” One wise men in the Bible said about God saying, “My people are perishing because of ignorance - not reading to get knowledge” It is so surprising how you can learn more through reading than classic academic ways, because they are very recent innovations you find in a book but not yet put in a course, especially in Africa. Information goes very quickly. From Nibizi Jean-Marie SHINE