Titelbild: Kinder in Vietnam

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Room to Read

Logo: Room to ReadJohn Wood, Founder and CEO, launched Room to Read after a trek through Nepal, where he visited several local schools throughout the developing country.  He was amazed by the warmth and enthusiasm of the students and teachers, but also saddened by the shocking lack of resources.  Driven to help, John quit his senior executive position with Microsoft and set out to build a global team to work with rural villages to build sustainable solutions to their educational challenges.  Founding Room to Read, John integrated proven corporate business practices with his inspiring vision to provide educational access to 10 million children in the developing world.  His innovative approach to non-profit management called for:

• Scalable, measureable, sustainable results
• Low-overhead – allowing maximum investment in educational infrastructure
• Challenge grants – fostering community ownership and sustainability
• Strong local staff and partnerships – creating culturally relevant programs

The approach includes the following programs:

• School Room — Partnerships with villages to build schools.
• Reading Room — Establishment of bi-lingual libraries with donated English books and local language books purchased in-country or self-published.
• Local Language Publishing — Room to Read sources new content from local writers and illustrators and publishes high-quality local language children's books to distribute throughout its networks.
• Computer & Language Room — Room to Read establishes labs to provide students with vocational skills and employment access.
• Room to Grow Girls' Scholarship — Funds of long-term girls' scholarships for young girls who would otherwise not have access to an education.

Bild: Lernende KinderTo increase the likelihood for success and long-term sustainability, Room to Read enlists community involvement and co-investment through the “Challenge Grant model”: Villages usually raise a significant portion of the overall expenditure in the form of dedicated space, labor, materials and/or small amounts of cash. These challenge grants act as catalysts for community building while also maximizing the local participation and expertise brought to Room to Read’s programs. Room to Read hires local staff, who are personally vested in their nation's educational progress and who are familiar with the language, conditions, customs and governments and understand the specific needs of the educational system.

Results to Date
Since its inception in 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of over 1.7 million children by:

• Constructing 442 schools
• Establishing over 5,160 libraries
• Publishing 226 new local language children's titles representing over 2 million books
• Donating over 2.2 million English language children's books
• Funding 4,036 long-term girls' scholarships
• Establishing 155 computer labs

Awards, Honors and Press

Over the past few years, Room to Read has received several distinguished awards, including The Fast Company/Monitor Group Social Capitalist Award, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and the Sand Hill Group Foundation's Social Entrepreneurship Award.

In addition to these organizational awards, Founder and CEO John Wood has been selected for several honors, including the Draper Richards Foundation Fellowship, the Young Global Leader award from the World Economic Forum, and Time Magazine's Asia's Heroes Award.