Room to Read
In 1998, John Wood was trekking in Nepal as a holiday from his hectic life as a senior Microsoft executive. A teacher invited him to visit a school. John was saddened by the library, a small crumbling building almost completely devoid of books. Thinking about how much his hometown library had affected his life, John returned a short time later on a yak with more than 3,000 books. In early 2000, John founded Room to Read. John explained that “the library in Nepal — a supposedly one-off project — has instead morphed into my life’s passion. I’ve never been happier, worked harder or believed more strongly in an organization.” RtR has been honored four times with the Fast Company Social Capitalist Award, a Draper Richards Fellowship and Time magazine’s Asian Heroes Award. John was also chosen as the first Kellogg School “Alumni Social Entrepreneur of the Year.”
IMPACT AS OF JAN. 2013:
- Room to Read brings the lifelong gift of education to children in 10 developing countries in Asia and Africa by building more than 1,400 schools and opening more than 10,000 libraries. Over 6 million children now have access to this network.
- Communities throughout Asia and Africa have co-invested with Room to Read to build over 1,400 new school buildings housing more than 5,500 classrooms, libraries and teachers’ rooms. Communities help manage the projects on the ground and share in the costs of materials and labor. Once a building is complete it is a public school, owned and operated entirely by the local government and community.
- Recognizing the need for children’s books in languages where there has not been a market for them, Room to Read has published over 700 children’s titles developed, edited and printed in 27 languages. Each one is designed to reinforce a child’s love of reading and learning.
- More than 13,000 girls in nine countries will have access to improved educational opportunities and holistic support this year as part of Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program. Last year 95% of girls stayed in the program with a 97% advancement rate. They hope to reach 27,000 girls by 2014.