I first heard Room to Read‘s founder John Wood speak years ago at Blackbaud’s Conference for Nonprofits. As a burned out Microsoft executive, John went on a trek through Nepal. While there, he happened to visit a school.
And the rest is history.
The conditions of the school were horrible. Worse, the only books they had were cast offs from backpackers, including a Danielle Steele romance novel and a Lonely Planet Guide to Mongolia.
Since 1998, they’ve filled the shelves of thousands of schools and libraries in 10 countries with English books and their innovative Local Language Publishing program that allows local authors and illustrators to be published in their countries giving the children the opportunity to read books in their own languages.
They also have made a push to help girls providing them with the hope of a new life. I love that John and his team blend social good with business savvy in Room to Read by setting up a system that was both helpful for local schools and scalable for expansion. I particularly remember measuring openings along business models like Starbucks’ openings. They also have a rigorous tracking of results.
For the last 15 years, Room to Read has successfully accomplished its twin objectives of literacy and gender equality in education.
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