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ROOM TO READ CHANGING LIVES ONE BOOK AT A TIME: A Q&A WITH ROOM TO READ CEO DR GEETHA MURALI MEET DR. GEETHA MURALI, CEO OF ROOM TO READ, A LEADING GLOBAL CHARITY TRANSFORMING THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF CHILDREN IN LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES BY FOCUSING ON LITERACY AND GENDER EQUALITY IN EDUCATION.

WHAT IS ROOM TO READ’S MISSION?

At Room to Read, we believe many world problems can be addressed through one solution: education. Knowing how to read makes people safer, healthier and more self-sufficient – yet over 750 million people (two thirds women and girls) are illiterate. Room to Read works with local communities, partner organisations and governments to develop literacy skills among primary school children and helps girls to complete secondary school teaching them the life skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond. Since our founding in 2000, Room to Read has helped 16.8 million children across, over 37,000 communities, in 16 countries.

WHAT ABOUT ROOM TO READ RESONATES WITH YOU PERSONALLY?

I came from a family where child marriage was common – my grandmothers were married at a very young age. As a 13-year old, my mother faced immense pressure to get married. She refused and instead enlisted in the Indian army to train as a nurse, forging a new path for herself. Thanks to my mother’s fortitude and perseverance, I had endless opportunities tolearn, explore, and become whoever I wanted to be. Creating meaningful, lasting change is far from immediate; it takes persistence and determination, child after child, generation after generation. Room to Read has proven that our mission and our approach is not just about short-term gains – it is about longterm solutions.

HOW HAS LONDON’S PHILANTHROPIC COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTED TO ROOM TO READ’S GROWTH?

Our work is possible because of the generosity of our committed network of investors and supporters in London and beyond. In 2018, over £4.4 million was raised in the UK, which allowed us to help more than 125,000 children. Room to Read believes in the power of partnerships. We partner with corporate foundations and organisations aligned with our mission and committed to philanthropy, such as BSI, Capco, Credit Suisse, CMS, Goldman Sachs, PIMCO and Swarovski. We also have an active network of volunteers and schools that fundraise for us and raise awareness of our work. Our UK regional board is comprised of CEOs, sector leaders and influencers who give us strategic guidance and help to accelerate our impact. Our supporters are committed to transformational giving, and are drawn to Room to Read’s efficiency, transparency and results. Children in Room to Read’s Literacy Programme read two-to-three times faster than their peers in nonRoom to Read programme schools. Every year we raise significant funds through galas in London, Zurich, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore and Tokyo. In London, our signature event is a Wine Tasting Dinner curated by Jancis Robinson, MW and hosted by Financial Times Group CEO and Room to Read Global Board Chair, John Ridding. Last year’s event raised £2.25 million to provide more than 64,000 children access to a quality education.

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