Room to Read Annual Report 2009 Celebrating Our First Decade, Envisioning the Next
Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, we develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.
is an outstanding statistic considering that if you are born poor, rural and female in the developing world, the odds are stacked against you. We’re confident that soon there will be a generation of educated young women creating their own futures and bettering their communities, and we should all be proud in knowing that we helped build the foundation that paved the way for their outstanding success.
Dear Friends, 2
As many of you know, I’m a seasoned “road warrior.” I’ve logged over one million miles during Room to Read’s first decade, and I spend more time in airports than I do at my home in San Francisco. The silver lining to so much time on airplanes is having long hours of quiet reading time. I tend to maintain a sizable collection of books, newspapers and magazines that I haul from one end of the world to the other (please note, this is not a plea for an iPad or Kindle, but please do keep those frequent flier mile donations coming!). On a recent journey, as I perused a book review, I was struck by a quote from Alberto Manguel’s book “A Reader on Reading.” He eloquently states, “I believe we are, at the core, reading animals, and that the art of reading, in its broadest sense, defines our species.” The ability and desire to read has had a profound influence on me and can have a major impact on the life of any individual, family and community in the developing world. For the ability to read translates into the ability to communicate, to
reason, to build and to dream. Together, all of us believe that every child deserves this opportunity. For the past 10 years, Room to Read has been laying the foundation for creating a literate environment in places lacking
“Over four million children in nine countries now have access to Room to Read schools and libraries.” some of the most basic educational resources. And with your help, a decade of building has resulted in some pretty incredible numbers – over 10,000 libraries, 1,200 schools and more than seven million books put into the hands of eager young readers. Over four million children in nine countries now have access to Room to Read schools and libraries. Included in these millions, by the end of 2010, are more than 10,000 girls who will be able to continue their education through our Girls’ Education program. Last year, over 96 percent of these girls matriculated to the next grade level. This
As I board flight after flight to share the Room to Read story around the globe, I’m so proud to tell people how far we’ve come in our first decade. But I’m even prouder to point to where we’re headed next. I’ve seen firsthand how Room to Read has snowballed from that first library in Bahundanda, Nepal into an avalanche of books, libraries and schools – all the elements for a “perfect storm” to transform the lives of children through the power of education. As you’re reading this report or your favorite newspaper or a good book, please consider the millions of children unable to read even the most simple of texts; not because they’re slow learners, but because they just don’t have the tools. Our goal is both simple and bold: to forever end the day when a child can be told she or he was born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, to the wrong parents. The hunger to learn, that element that defines our species, is present in every child. It’s both a responsibility and an opportunity for all of us, as citizens of a world that becomes ever smaller, to do our part to feed that appetite for education.
Founder & Board Chair
have the greatest impact: literacy and gender equality in education. First, we will focus on primary school literacy, working toward the day when every child learns to read and write. Second, we will continue our Girls’ Education program, focusing on ensuring girls have an equal opportunity to attend secondary school and gain the relevant skills to negotiate key life decisions.
Dear Friends, The first 10 years of any nonprofit organization’s existence truly are a proving ground. In this relatively short time, an organization goes from the initial spark of inspiration to laying a foundation that can carry into the future. When Room to Read began 10 years ago, no one could have imagined that it would grow as quickly as it has. In a decade, Room to Read scaled exponentially to reach into nine countries in the developing world, and we’ve established ourselves as a leader in global education. We’ve also inspired a network of over 5,500 dedicated volunteers who have joined our global education movement. While we are proud to be celebrating our 10th anniversary, we also know our work is far from complete. Room to Read envisions a world in which all children can pursue a quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world. We are firm believers in Nelson Mandela’s quote, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Yet today, there are still an estimated 759 million adults who have never learned to read or write – twothirds of whom are women.
In an endeavor to identify new ways to best address this epidemic of illiteracy and the lack of quality educational opportunities for children – especially girls – and to identify our goals for this next decade, we undertook a thorough and participatory strategic planning process throughout 2009. The first decade of Room to Read was focused on providing much-needed infrastructure
Guided by our new global framework, we are taking the next logical step to evolve in new directions that build upon our first decade of experience, and leverage our organizational strengths. In doing so, we are expanding our work to include such components as tailored reading instruction and enhanced life skills workshops for girls. We believe that these areas, combined with our strong programs, will allow us to have a deep and lasting impact on the children we serve and for the field of education in the developing world. We hope that you will continue to partner with us as we embark on this exciting new decade of working with our eager
“Lack of education is the result of many factors, and while we can’t address every one, we are committed to two critical areas where we believe we can have the greatest impact: literacy and gender equality in education.” in the form of libraries, schools and children’s books, as well as funding scholarships for girls. Looking ahead, we will continue to support communities with educational resources, while also ensuring they have enhanced capacity to better utilize the resources needed to effectively increase children’s learning outcomes.
students, teachers and communities across the globe. Together, we will change the world through the power of education.
Lack of education is the result of many factors, and while we can’t address every one, we are committed to two critical areas where we believe we can
Co-Founder & CEO
R is for Reading
1998-1999 AN IDEA WAS BORN
While trekking through the Himalayas, John Wood visits a school in Bahundanda, Nepal that has few books for its 450 students to read. The headmaster says, â€œPerhaps, sir, you will someday come back with books.â€?
John meets Dinesh Shrestha via email, and Dinesh agrees to help shepherd donated books through Nepal customs and get them into schools.
Books to the Rescue Reading Room, Sri Lanka When asked about his favorite book, 11-year-old Kasun – normally very shy – lights up immediately and quickly locates the oversized picture book in his new school library. The vibrantly illustrated book tells the story of a happy fish that makes new friends in the sea. “While he is swimming he meets crabs and other animals, and then a sea snail and then he becomes friendly with a lobster and a prawn,” beams Kasun, who obviously knows the story by heart. The tale of the outgoing fish and his friends is a dramatic contrast to Kasun’s somber life in a nearby orphanage on the east coast of Sri Lanka. “My father is dead, and my mother brought me to the home because we didn’t have clothes to wear for school,” he explains. But, Kasun’s world recently changed for the better when Room to Read established a colorful new library at his school. The old library was a meager collection of outdated and dense texts stored in the headmaster’s office for safekeeping. Children were required to get special permission just to see them. The library, proclaims Kasun, is his “favorite place on earth,” and his reading skills, as well as those of his fellow students, have markedly improved since the library opened. Such enthusiasm can be found in Reading Rooms across Sri Lanka where, together with the introduction of Room to Read’s literacy pilot programs in 2009, children are developing and improving their
reading skills. These literacy pilot programs are preparing teachers and librarians to more effectively teach reading in the classrooms and libraries, and are providing materials that support this effort. Together, these programs create a cycle allowing reading skills to improve, and children the chance to discover new books and gain the habit of reading. A few hours southwest of Kasun, in the Matale district, lives Dulanjali, an exceptional student supported by Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program. Her love for reading inspired her to start her own community library. “I was lucky,” Dulanjali says. “Room to Read partners with my school and provides books. It opened up a whole new world for me, but there are several children in my village who are not so lucky, and I want to help them.”
Her makeshift library is set up in her impeccably neat room. “I collect secondhand books and lend them out to my friends and neighbors,” she says. “I want everyone in my village to appreciate books.” Every book is listed in a detailed ledger that Dulanjali marks each time books are checked out. When asked which book is her favorite, Dulanjali reaches under her pillow for a small hand-stitched book. The cover is plain
The library, proclaims Kasun, is his “favorite place on earth,” and his reading skills, as well as those of his fellow students, have markedly improved since the library opened. Dulanjali divides her time between school and house work. “In this village, there is very little a girl can do apart from cooking and helping with the housework,” she says. “But I don’t want to walk in my mother’s footsteps. I want to be respected for my work. I want to become a lawyer so that I can fight for our rights.”
With the help of eight book-bearing donkeys, 3,000 books are delivered to five Nepalese schools.
but the title speaks for itself: How Room to Read Changed My Life. “ One day I will publish this book,” she says with a smile. Story excerpted and adapted from “Room to Read’s Results in Sri Lanka” by David Pilling, published by the Financial Times on December 11, 2009. Copyright owned by the Financial Times.
Dinesh proposes that John help reconstruct and expand two badly damaged schools. John agrees to find the funding.
B is for Books
Having quit Microsoft to start what was then known as Books for Nepal, John devotes himself full-time to this new endeavor.
A Dream Comes True
Local Language Publishing, South Africa Despite a successful and fulfilling 10-year teaching career, Shao says she secretly always harbored an ambition to write children’s books, a dream that grew out of the countless hours she spent as a
to befriend an indifferent bear, until an encounter with a local hunter just before Easter changes everything. The book explores themes of loneliness and friendship, and was inspired by Shao’s
“I want my child to be able to read and learn in Sepedi as I did,” says Shao. She is expecting her first child later this year and looks forward to passing on the joy of reading she inherited to the next generation.
As far back as she can remember, Shao has loved stories. As a child, she would be enraptured as her grandmother, a storyteller in the oral tradition, would recount dramatic stories and folktales in their native dialect of Sepedi – one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Animated and passionate when she speaks, Shao grew up in a tightly-knit family in Limpopo – South Africa’s northernmost province; her father was a preacher and her mother was a traditional healer. Shao’s love of reading and of storytelling was instilled in her by her mother and grandmother, whom she credits with inspiring her to pursue a career as a second grade school teacher.
child scribbling her thoughts down in a seemingly endless series of journals. After years of fantasizing about becoming an author, Shao was finally able to realize her dream with the help of Room to Read. In 2008, Shao came across a notice in the local paper promoting a writing competition sponsored by Room to Read. She entered the contest on a whim – a fateful decision that would lead to a turning point in her life. Through the contest, Shao was invited to participate in a writer’s workshop coordinated by Room to Read’s Local Language Publishing program. At the workshop, budding authors are encouraged to develop their writing skills and receive instruction and coaching from local writing experts. With the encouragement of workshop instructors, Shao penned the beginnings of her first book, The Hare and the Bear. The Hare and the Bear tells the story of a lonely hare who unsuccessfully attempts
Two schools open in Nepal, and libraries continue to be established and filled with donated English-language books.
own feelings of loss after her twin brother, whom she considered her best friend, went missing. One of 10 original titles that Room to Read South Africa selected to be published in 2009, The Hare and the Bear is written in Shao’s native Sepedi, a point of particular pride for the author. “My favorite book as a child was Arebale, which means ‘Let’s Read’ in Sepedi,” says Shao. She strongly believes that her earliest literary experiences were so powerful in large part because they were told in a familiar voice. “I want my child to be able to read and learn in Sepedi as I did,” says Shao. She is expecting her first child later this year and looks forward to passing on the joy of reading she inherited to the next generation. Soon thousands of South African children, including Shao’s new baby, will be able to enjoy the tale of The Hare and the Bear when it arrives in Room to Read libraries this summer.
Books for Nepal begins awarding scholarships—primarily to girls—so they can attend school. This program eventually becomes Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program.
S is for School
2001 ROOM TO READ GETS 8 ITS NAME
John meets Erin Ganju, who offers to coordinate expansion into Vietnam. Together with Dinesh, they vow to hire locally for all positions and empower each office to adapt programs for their home country.
A Temple of Learning School Room, Laos
Perched atop a grassy knoll in the Xayabouly province of Laos, two buildings at Naxam Complete Primary School sit in dramatic contrast. One resembles an aging barn, with loose wooden planks and broken hinged doors. The other, a long six-room concrete building with large windows stands strong, as sounds from children emanate from its doorway.
Room to Read offered to help. The very next day I called all the parents and the community leaders to share this news and ask each one about what we could contribute as part of Room to Read’s ‘challenge grant’.” He recalled that while everyone was thrilled about the possibility of a new school, the “challenge grant” stipulation was intimidating because few were willing to commit to any donations – either cash or in-kind. In a farming community with large families barely supporting themselves on meager incomes, the hesitation was understandable. But Stephan campaigned relentlessly for the school project, and
“This is the jewel on our crown,” says Souphanh, the school principal as he walks toward the library. “This school is indeed a gift to this community,” echoes Stephan, the former principal. “When I first came I was worried about the building. This was certainly one of the most uninspiring places for a child to
“Room to Read kept its promise to this community and has been supportive. Because of this, today this school enrolls more than 130 students from two villages!” study. During the monsoon, children skipped school because their classrooms were flooded with rain water gushing in from all sides. Apart from that, there was also always a real possibility the structure would fall on our heads.” He laughs before continuing on a more serious note, “But I knew it was futile complaining to anyone because buildings cost money and that was something no one had.” In 2007, Room to Read proposed the construction of a new school. Stephan remembers, “We were overjoyed when
soon his office was filled with donated bags of cement, ladders, buckets and other building supplies. “We started meeting once each week to take stock and share the progress with the community,” he says. “One evening my friend Lung Tai, who had no children of his own, attended the meeting and offered to level the school ground with the land rover he owned. He told the others, ‘this school is not for you or me or
Books for Nepal officially changes its name to Room to Read!
just for our children, but it is also for our grandchildren and their children. Imagine after this is constructed, our children will get a better education and will not have to struggle like us’.” At age 64, Lung Tai left his full-time job to fulfill his promise to level the ground for the school. Soon, other members of the community joined in the construction. “I thought of this as an investment,” says Lung Tai with a broad grin. He adds, “This school has not just bonded us together and made our village popular, but also changed our lives. Our children have better educational opportunities and also they are healthier as they don’t fall sick during the monsoon!” Souphanh agrees. “Room to Read kept its promise to this community and has been supportive. Because of this, today this school enrolls more than 130 students from two villages!” Lung Tai nods in approval and sums it up: “This is our new temple, a temple of learning.”
Scholastic, Inc. donates 11,000 English-language children’s books to Room to Read libraries.
G is for Girls
2002 first tipping point 10
Room to Read opens its headquarters in San Francisco, expands operations into Cambodia and begins to invest in monitoring and evaluating programmatic impact.
GENDER EQUALITY IN EDUCATION
A Stronger Foundation Girls’ Education, Bangladesh “Self-reliance.” The answer comes quickly and without hesitation from Fulara when asked what she hopes for her daughter in the future. “I want her to have a job and not be dependent on anyone else.” Fulara wants for her daughter, Sujata, what she couldn’t have herself. Like most women in one of the poorest parts of the world, Fulara married young and had to rely on her husband for income and security. However, security is a very subjective word in the char region of
“What do you hope for your daughter in the future?” “I want her to have a job and not be dependent on anyone else.” Bangladesh where every summer, the monsoons come and threaten to wash away the tin houses and the land beneath them. Chars, or small islands, are home to over 3.5 million of Bangladesh’s poorest people. With a life expectancy of less than 50 years, the char-dweller may migrate from island to island over 40 times in a short lifetime. Seven hours from the capital city of Dhaka and lacking electricity and access to commerce, the people in the char are a world away in
Room to Read supports over 100 girls through its Girls’ Education program in Nepal and Vietnam.
their remoteness and poverty, and few organizations choose to work in the area despite the dire need. However, Room to Read, in partnership with the local organization SHARP, decided to begin program operations in the char, where 234 girls are currently enrolled in the Girls’ Education program. Social mobilizers from SHARP act as mentors and tutors for the girls and provide important life skills training, school supplies and encouragement to ensure that the girls will succeed despite their incredibly challenging daily lives. Eleven-year-old Sujata is an only child, a rare occurrence in an area where family size is often quite large. Her mother, a housewife, and her father, a brick-layer on the mainland, own no property so the family resides in structures they built on government-provided land. Each day, Sujata walks over two miles to and from school where she is in sixth grade. The walk is long, but now that she participates in the Girls’ Education program, she is much more engaged in school and doesn’t mind getting up early to get to school on time. Her mother notes that while Sujata gets a good formal education during regular school hours, the extra opportunities to learn life skills – such as the “self-awareness” workshop
she attended through Room to Read’s program – have helped her daughter develop confidence and a growing sense of independence. More and more, the entire family recognizes the importance of continuing Sujata’s education, encouraging her to excel in her studies. As Sujata describes her favorite story book about a precocious kitten, her mother shows an obvious pride in the fact that her daughter is getting an education and may find a different path than the generations of women before her. Although their home is transitory and uncertain due to the whim of nature, an education creates a strong foundation for Sujata and the hundreds of other char girls like her that Room to Read is helping to empower.
The Draper Richards Foundation awards Room to Read a three-year grant for US$300,000, and Fast Company Magazine profiles John — both key tipping points that enable critical organizational change.
T is for Teamwork
Country Highlights year in review
Across the world, Room to Read’s nine country offices focused on implementing their goals and maximizing the number of children who benefit from Room to Read’s high-quality educational programs. Collectively, in 2009 our country teams established 2,130 libraries, published 106 children’s book titles representing over one million printed books, constructed 361 schools and supported 9,074 girls to attend school. In the course of just one year, Room to Read impacted more than 900,000 children.
Nepal Room to Read Nepal saw tremendous progress in its Girls’ Education program that is now supporting 350 Kamlari girls. These girls, who had previously been sold into bonded service, were rescued by one of our local partner organizations and are now being supported by Room to Read. Because of the traumatic experience of living away from home and working as laborers at a young age, the girls often are plagued with low self-esteem and have difficulty transitioning back into school and the community. Life skills aimed at developing self-worth and confidence are a key part of the Girls’ Education program, and together with academic support, enable the girls to adjust to and succeed in school. To date, almost all the girls have mainstreamed into regular school, with 67 attending bridge courses to assist them in the transition.
Room to Read and Books for Asia collaborate to generate and collect book donations, distributing them throughout Room to Read libraries.
Nepal’s Local Language Publishing program was recognized for its outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature by the esteemed Nepalese Society for Children’s Literature (NESCHIL). Two of Nepal’s local language books received NESCHIL awards in 2009 – one for best children’s book and one for best illustrated book.
Vietnam Through the Local Language Publishing program, early readers in Vietnam were treated to large format books for both reading and coloring. The popular “big books” are effective tools for basic comprehension in lower grades and allow for interactive learning. A total of 140 teachers, librarians, school and education officials participated in a special teacher
training workshop for the big books and learned how to use these books in shared reading activities, storytelling and as links to other classroom lessons.
function and sustainability was organized in each province.
Room to Read Vietnam’s Girls’ education program welcomed 274 Khmer girls from Tra Vinh, an area of high poverty, a large Khmer minority population who emigrated from Cambodia, and one of the highest dropout rate in the Mekong delta. Room to Read is working closely with the girls to help them stay and excel in school, despite language and cultural barriers.
In a country with average secondary school completion rates well below 30 percent, it is especially noteworthy that 90 percent of our 12th grade Girls’ Education participants passed their high school examinations. Many of the girls are now enrolled in universities, including the University of Chea Sim Kamchay Mea in Prey Veng province and University of Health Science, Law and Economics Science in Phnom Penh.
Room to Read’s ultimate goal is to have communities eventually take over full responsibility for the libraries and schools built through Room to Read. Therefore, it was quite a milestone when the operations of 402 projects in three Cambodian provinces (Kampong Chhnang, Pursat and Battambong) were officially transferred to the Government Provincial Office of Education. Education officials expressed deep appreciation of Room to Read’s support and assured strong commitment to maintain the projects. To ensure long-term operation of the libraries, a workshop on library
India’s diversity of cultures brings unique challenges in effectively developing plans and projects. Room to Read India spent the first half of the year securing agreements with the many educational constituents involved in our various programs and focusing on expanding our partnership with the government. In fact, several state governments in India have such a high regard for our programs that they have been replicating our Reading Room libraries in other government schools.
2003 creativity flourishes
Language Publishing program, including Garhwali, Telugu and Rajasthani. Two of the 2009 titles, Pani and Machchho’s Ocean Journey were also shortlisted by National Book Trust (NBT) as a part of the Bolivia World Book Fair. In addition, the new title, Meri Kitab, has been shortlisted by the prestigious National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in India as a part of reading material set for their Reading Cell program.
Laos For the second consecutive year, the Laos Local Language Publishing team was honored by the Ministry of Information Education and Culture with two book excellence awards. The winning stories were Nang Oy’s Dream, about a girl’s right to have an education, and Many Bags, about two children learning to recycle. Being acknowledged and honored by the government speaks to the quality standards Room to Read is setting and how significantly the organization is contributing to the field of children’s literature.
In addition to Hindi and English-language books, three additional minority languages were added to the Local
Room to Read expands into India with a focus on local organization and government partnerships. These types of relationships ultimately become a key best practice for Room to Read’s future operations.
With help from the Skoll Foundation, Room to Read launches a pilot program in Nepal to create local language children’s books to fill its libraries. The Local Language Publishing program is born!
In 2009, the Laos Girls’ Education team observed a frightening trend that linked the majority of dropouts of girls transitioning from primary to secondary school to human trafficking and the need for girls to financially support their families. In response, local teams in Xayabouly and Salavan provinces held three workshops to educate parents on the dangers associated with human trafficking. The objectives of the workshops were to improve parents’ perception of girls’ education, and to strengthen ties between the parents, the community and Room to Read.
Sri Lanka In May of 2009, the military’s victory over the Tamil Tiger separatists brought an end to a 25-year civil war in Sri Lanka. The end of the long conflict in the north and east of the country is enabling international organizations such as Room to Read to assist with the rebuilding in these areas. We began by establishing
pre-schools, coordinating teacher training and distributing over 100,000 children’s books via mobile libraries to many of the 60,000 children and their families displaced by the conflict. In 2010, there will be a focus on establishing Reading Room libraries, schools and support for girls’ education in the Mannar district, which is likely to be one of the first regions of the country to experience resettlement. In addition to the 18 titles published by Room to Read Sri Lanka, 50 stories generated from our writer and illustrator workshop participants were printed by other publishers (25 in Sinhala and 25 in Tamil). Writers and illustrators trained in our workshops are now able to produce more stories and add to the number of Sri Lankan children’s books that can be made available to children.
Volunteer chapters emerge across the U.S., Canada and in the U.K. to help efficiently broaden fundraising efforts. A chapter strategy is formed and Room to Read becomes an official U.K. charity.
South Africa Library Week was celebrated in March of 2009 and was marked with the official launch of 75 Reading Room libraries in partnership with the Department of Education. Following a visit to all libraries, the Department of Education selected eight Room to Read libraries to be community libraries. Because the libraries support all schools within their vicinity, the Department of Education will invest additional resources into these libraries to ensure their sustainability and service to the communities. In addition, as part of the celebration, two Reading Rooms in Mpumalanga – the Kennen Primary School and Ehlanzeni Siyakhula – were recognized for their excellence and named school library of the year in each of their regions. The Department of Education introduced a program in schools called “Foundations for Learning” which requires students to be granted a 30-minute daily period to “Drop
2004 continuing the momentum
All and Read.” Room to Read supported this campaign by providing wellstocked libraries for the communities. In fact, because of increased demand for children’s books in 2009, the Local Language Publishing team doubled its print run and began partnering with education officials to help distribute our books to non-Room to Read supported schools.
Zambia The UN’s Education For All (EFA) initiative, with its focus on increasing access to educational quality, has required that unprecedented numbers of classrooms be built in Zambia. Because of this, all space in schools is highly coveted and none is left for libraries. Our construction efforts in Zambia are thus integral to the development of space to house the often neglected libraries. Room to Read Zambia and the Reading Room team focused their work in providing classroom libraries to 45 new communities in the Nyimba
district. In partnership with Lafarge, a global cement company, Room to Read Zambia and communities built five Constructed Reading Rooms. Secondary school enrollment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa are the lowest in the world. In Zambia, approximately half of all girls matriculate from primary to secondary school, and the completion rates decrease substantially, to less than 40 percent. Zambia’s Girls’ Education program received exciting news that all 104 Room to Read girl scholars passed their 7th grade exam in 2009. This critical national examination allows students to advance to 8th grade.
Bangladesh The training of government and registered primary school teachers in classroom library management, organized by Room to Read Bangladesh in 2009, was the first of its kind by any nongovernment organization in Bangladesh.
Local language children’s books are published in Nepal. One book, “Mero Gaun Ko Katha,” is a compilation of three stories from girls who won our first children’s writing competition.
The team was also very rigorous in selecting books for children. In doing so, Room to Read engaged government officials, UN bodies, education experts and local and international organizations through a Book Selection Committee to develop and use a very comprehensive quality assessment tool to help the committee make decisions on book procurement. The team read hundreds of books and also organized children’s workshops to solicit their suggestions in selecting the best books for their peers. The successful implementation of the Reading Room and Girls’ Education programs in the remote areas of Bangladesh depend on dedicated community support as well. Residents have assisted with carrying supplies and furniture to areas without roads, building up areas in flood zones to provide safe locations for girls’ weekly life skills meetings and providing electric fans to improve the children’s learning environment.
Room to Read wins the first of five consecutive Fast Company/Monitor Group Social Capitalist Awards for innovation and social impact, and fundraising continues to grow.
I is for Innovation
Program Highlights year in review
Implementing Pilot Literacy Programs
2009 was defined by capacity-building across the organization through the scaling of our programs, innovations 16
across our countries and a year-long strategic planning process to create a renewed vision and mission to guide us in our second decade. We did all of this despite the challenging economic climate — focusing on strengthening each of our core programs and improving operations, including increasing our program monitoring.
In anticipation of our heightened focus on literacy, Room to Read implemented three reading pilot programs to understand how our organization can directly improve the reading habits of students who utilize our libraries and local language resources. New literacy pilots were introduced in Sri Lanka and Nepal and a reading skills pilot in India continued into its second year. In each country, Room to Read staff worked with local governments, school principals, and teachers to create new resources for students including materials focused on literacy instruction — such as vocabulary development and phonics — as well as reading materials to provide children with the opportunity to practice using their skills. Based on lessons learned, we will build out best practices and expand these pilot programs into additional countries.
Scaling Our Classroom Libraries In 2009, Room to Read prioritized establishing classroom libraries and, by year’s end, completed 425 across eight countries. Classroom libraries make books more accessible to children and allow teachers to integrate books into classroom instruction. This library model allows Room to Read to partner with overcrowded schools that cannot
provide a designated library room. To ensure all libraries are being used to their fullest potential, Room to Read committed to working more closely with government and community partners to secure dedicated reading periods. To date, reading periods have been established in Cambodia, parts of South Africa and Vietnam.
Complementing the School Curriculum The Local Language Publishing program continued to expand its efforts, both in content and quality. Based on feedback from teachers and education experts, Room to Read developed innovative educational materials for students, including early readers, storybooks and non-fiction books, which complement the local curriculum and make the material more engaging for students. In Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam, our teams included the government in the book selection process to ensure that our program materials support subjects and themes learned in the classroom.
Growing Our Girl Graduates In 2009, a total of 69 scholars graduated from secondary school: 27 in Cambodia, nine in India, two in Nepal and 31 in Vietnam. Some of the graduates have decided to continue their studies at local colleges and universities, while others have found employment or are active in
Room to Read celebrates the opening of its 100th school in Vietnam, its 1,000th library in Cambodia, and in Nepal, its local language books receive the Nepalese Society for Children’s Literature Award.
their local communities. We are proud of our scholars for their commitment to their studies and we are confident they are better equipped for the life choices ahead.
Education program, Room to Read focused its efforts on strengthening the capacity of social mobilizers with local workshops in all countries.
The success of these graduates can be attributed to effective connections with social mobilizers, community members who interact with our girl scholars on a frequent and consistent basis. Serving as facilitators and mentors, social mobilizers are in regular contact with the girls to help them maintain life skills practices, cofacilitate workshops with teachers, create dialogue with community members about the importance of girls’ education, and make program recommendations. Because of their key role in the Girls’
Evaluating Our Flagship Program
2005 responding to need
As Room to Read has continued to expand and deepen its efforts to create literate environments for children in the developing world, the need for a rigorous, cross-national study of its flagship program – the Reading Room program – has grown increasingly important. In 2009, Room to Read embarked on the first stage of a three-year, cross-national evaluation of its Reading Room program
with baseline data collection activities in Zambia, Nepal and Laos. The goal of the evaluation is to increase our organizational understanding of how the Reading Room program works to create literate environments for students. In particular, the evaluation seeks to draw conclusions about the effect of the Reading Room program on students’ habits and attitudes towards reading. More importantly, lessons learned from the evaluation will further support Room to Read’s goal of creating vibrant learning environments that motivate children to read, ultimately putting them on the path to lifelong literacy.
Following the 2004 tsunami, Room to Read enters Sri Lanka and decides to expand into Laos. Within two years, 80 schools are opened in tsunamiimpacted villages in Sri Lanka.
Monitoring Our Performance With a commitment to program quality as well as transparency of results, monitoring and evaluation play a major role in the development of our various programs. In 2009, our monitoring and evaluation teams collected and analyzed information on performance and accomplishment measures for all programs in countries where we worked through 2009 – a total of 14,000 projects. In our Reading Room program, previously established libraries specifically underwent thorough monitoring. Of the 5,581 libraries established between 2007 and 2009, it was found that 97 percent have a book classification system in place, and 96 percent have functional book checkout systems. In our School Room program, Room to Read visited and inspected 478 school buildings constructed during 2006 through 2008 and found that 99 percent remained structurally sound. In order to proactively address the small percentage requiring basic maintenance, we are now implementing a maintenance training program for the schools that we construct. The monitoring effort was successful in building staff capacity, collecting data on an annual basis and learning what we do well and what areas need improvement and support. Based on this ongoing process, we continually refine the definitions and data collection methods for some measures in order to make them more useful, and using the analyzed data to identify possible program improvements.
Our Results Since 2000 Room to Read has supported more than four million children by providing better access to quality educational opportunities. • Building 1,128 schools and establishing 9,266 bilingual libraries. • Publishing 433 original local language children’s books, in 22 different languages, representing the distribution of more than 4.1 million books. • Distributing over 7.4 million children’s books that include original Room to Read titles, donated English-language books and local language books. • Supporting 9,074 girls through its Girls’ Education program for a total of 26,000 years of girls’ education.
(Results through 2009)
Room to Read opens its 2,000th library at a ground-breaking ceremony in Cambodia, and donates its one millionth book with a celebration in Nepal.
Room to Read continues to build out operations in Asia, embarks on its first strategic plan, and finishes its first independent evaluation survey across four countries.
V is for Vision
Envisioning Our Future
As Room to Read approached its 10th anniversary, we wanted to ensure we 20
could sustain our strong momentum and enter our second decade with the focus and leadership to increase our impact. In 2009, we conducted a thorough and participatory strategic planning process to articulate our goals for the next decade and beyond, as well as to define the major strategies needed to achieve them.
Our goal for the future is more ambitious than ever: to enable more than 10 million children in over a dozen developing world countries to maximize their educational experiences by 2015.
2006 exploring new continents
Room to Read began its work 10 years ago with a simple desire to bring books to the children of Nepal. Today, we are a global organization – working in nine countries across Asia and Africa – that helps millions of children in the developing world gain access to quality educational opportunities. We have built an effective, entrepreneurial and passionate global team, a strong and diverse donor base and a foundation of scalable programming. Over the past 10 years, we have developed an integrated, long-term approach to address a range of educational needs that create lasting change for children in the developing world through our Reading Room (library) program, our Local Language Publishing program, our School Room program and our Girls’ Education program. Recently, we have taken steps to further improve the quality of our programs and to place a greater emphasis on desired, measurable outcomes. The result of our exploration and strategic planning exercise is a sharpening of our focus under two main objectives: Literacy and Gender Equality in Education. As we enter our second decade, Room to Read will build upon our history of providing access to educational infrastructure through libraries, children’s books, schools, and girls’ education, and expand our work to include reading instruction programs and enhanced life skills workshops for girls. It is through these two critical areas of educational development where we believe we can have the greatest impact.
Room to Read commits to enter Africa, choosing South Africa as its first country of operation. Regional offices in both southern Africa and Asia are opened.
Over 2,000 girls are now supported through the Girls’ Education program across five countries.
John’s book, “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children,” is published by Harper Collins, and is featured in media from the New York Times to the Washington Post to USA Today.
Room to Read receives its first 4-star Charity Navigator rating, an award it has since won four consecutive years, and receives its first US$1 million corporate commitment from the Goldman Sachs Foundation.
Our Literacy Focus Literacy is part of the right to a basic education and is crucial for economic, social and political participation and development.* Yet today, there are more than 750 million illiterate adults (age 15 and above) in the world, with 98 percent living in developing countries. In order for children – who are the focus of Room to Read’s work – to acquire lifelong literacy skills, they need access to books and other reading materials. Through our Literacy program, Room to Read will focus on literacy as the foundation of all other learning by developing reading skills and the habit of reading among primary school children. Our goal is to develop more independent readers, and we look to achieve this by increasing access to culturally-relevant, age-appropriate and gendersensitive reading materials; improving the effectiveness of teachers and librarians to teach literacy skills and develop the habit of reading among children; and enhancing the school environment to be more conducive to learning. Our current programs – Reading Room, Local Language Publishing and School Room – support the creation of a literate environment at school and home by surrounding children with relevant, creative and interesting print material to encourage and foster a joy of reading. The programs also provide teachers, facilitators and librarians with materials and strategies to engage children and nurture the habit of reading.
Through our monitoring efforts, we observed that children within the communities where we work often lack the grade-appropriate reading skills necessary to take full advantage of the Reading Room and Local Language Publishing resources. To address this issue, our teams in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka launched initial literacy pilot programs in 2008 and 2009 to focus on reading skills in the primary grades, a prerequisite for children to become independent readers and lifelong learners. Initial lessons learned from these pilots have influenced our new literacy strategy and demonstrate that Room to Read can impact more children by focusing on creating environments that enable and promote reading. Teaching to achieve literacy will also lead to a greater utilization and a higher rate of return on future projects. Our future Literacy program will continue to build and sustain the habit of reading and create a child-friendly, literate school environment through the donation of books and the building of schools and libraries. With the addition of supporting the teaching of literacy, we will expand our activities to include building the reading skills of children. By integrating all these activities together, we will be able to achieve our goal of more children becoming independent readers.
Changes we hope to effect through our Literacy program include the following: > Develop the literacy skills and reading habits of primary school children > Improve access to culturally-relevant, ageappropriate, and gender-sensitive reading materials > Increase effectiveness of teachers and librarians to teach literacy skills and develop the habit of reading > Enhance school environments to be more conducive to learning and reading > Collaborate with governments to support policies and programs to promote primary school literacy
Literacy Evolution 1998: English-language books donated 2000: Libraries established 2001: Schools constructed 2003: Local language books published 2004: Librarian and teacher professional development 2008: Classroom libraries established 2010 & Beyond: Reading instruction
*Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006: Literacy for Life. (2006). Paris: UNESCO Publications.
2007 the second tipping point
Room to Read launches into Zambia, its second African country. In both India and Nepal, the first cohorts of girls graduate from the Girls’ Education program.
Our Gender Equality in Education Focus Worldwide, girls make up a disproportionately low number of students enrolled in and completing secondary school. Even where girls and boys are at school in roughly equal numbers, there is still gender bias against girls in many countries’ curriculums, classroom dynamics and teaching methodologies. Girls must also overcome a range of other hurdles to complete their schooling – from a lack of female teachers and positive role models, to sexual harassment and violence from male teachers and classmates, to inadequate female toilet facilities. Additionally, girls often risk their safety while walking to and from school. They may also be forced by their families to drop out of school to marry early, care for younger siblings or contribute to family income.
Changes we hope to effect through our Girls’ Education program include the following: > Improve completion rates of schooling for girls > Increase the self-awareness, decisionmaking, and problem solving skills of girls
Aside from a desire to bridge the gender gap in education, educating girls is, according to the World Bank and others, simply an excellent investment. When girls learn, their families, communities, and societies all benefit – an assertion proven time and time again by empirical research.
> Enhance the school environment so it is more accommodating to girls’ needs
Room to Read will focus on equalizing the secondary school experience for girls as a means for improving gender equality in education and promoting quality education for all children. Our goal is to ensure that girls have equal opportunities to attend secondary school, have the support they need to continue in school (including creating a girl-friendly school environment) and have an opportunity to improve their life skills.
> Collaborate with governments to support policies and programs to promote girls’ education
Increasingly, education experts are recognizing that life skills are a critical component to realize the full benefits of formal education, yet often these elements are not taught. Qualities and skills such as self-confidence, self-awareness, decision making and problem solving will better prepare a girl for the challenging situations and decisions she faces during, and after, her adolescence. In its early years, Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program was a need-based, girls-only scholarship program focused on keeping girls enrolled through secondary school. Over the years, the program has moved away from focusing on scholarships into a more holistic program that recognizes that the many barriers to girls’ education cannot be overcome simply through financial support. Today, the program focuses not only on scholarships but also on providing life skills, including promoting girls’ self-esteem and broadening their horizons through field trips and exposure to new ideas. In recent years, local women have been trained as mentors and advocates for the girls to provide more regular and ongoing direct support. In addition, there has been a focus on increasing parents’ awareness of the value of sending their daughters to school. Through a combination of all these components, girls in our program will have more success at completing secondary school and have the life skills necessary to make key life decisions.
John appears on The Oprah Winfrey Show in a segment entitled, “I Walked Away from Millions.” The segment airs three times, and the publicity through Oprah’s book drive generates over US$1.1 million.
> Generate family, peer and community awareness and support of girls’ education
Gender Equality in Education Evolution 2000: F ocus on material support, tutoring and academic support 2004: Group outings, career guidance and vocational exploration 2007: Life skills (workshops and activities) 2008: Mentoring (social mobilizers), remedial education and bridge courses 2010 & Beyond: School and community activities
M is for Momentum
Our Global Recognition
Room to Read had another incredible year in 2009, one which saw the strengthening of our brand and an expansion of our global chapter network. We forged several new strategic partnerships with industry-leading corporations and high-profile media, made headlines globally through widespread press coverage, and continued to spread the word about our work through a series of notable speaking engagements and awards. Such great strides helped Room to Read close its first decade stronger than ever and position itself to effect even greater change in the years to come.
Expanding Our Chapter Network Room to Read’s chapter network continued to expand in 2009 with the addition of seven new chapters including Aspen Valley, Los Angeles and Nashville in the U.S.; Montreal in Canada; and Brisbane, Canberra, and Melbourne in Australia. Our total volunteer network now includes more than 40 worldwide chapters. Collectively, Room to Read now has more than 5,500 volunteers helping Room to Read plan events and raise awareness. The chapters raised over US$6.7 million in 2009 and have raised, on average, 30 percent of Room to Read’s operating budget since 2005.
Our chapter network continued to help Room to Read spread awareness through numerous fundraising events. Highlights included gala events in Sydney, Hong Kong and Tokyo which collectively raised over US$2.5 million. In addition, we saw a tremendous increase in participation and event creativity within chapters across the globe. The Calgary chapter planned a fun night called Girls’ Night Out which used a Bollywood theme to raise funds for our India programs, and the Greenwich chapter held a “Rally for Reading” event with author Patricia McCormick.
While on stage with President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative, John and Erin announce the Room to Dream campaign and make a CGI committment to double Room to Read’s reach by establishing 10,000 libraries by 2010.
The Academy for Educational Development awards Room to Read’s Local Language Publishing program one of six “Breakthrough Ideas in Education” prizes.
Global Chapter Network Vancouver Edmonton Calgary Montreal Toronto
Seattle Portland Denver/Boulder San Francisco Vail Aspen Valley Los Angeles San Diego
Amsterdam Edinburgh London Brussels Zurich Munich
Minneapolis/St. Paul Boston Greenwich New York City Washington, DC
Chicago St. Louis Nashville Atlanta
UK & EUROPE Tokyo
2008 THINKING BIGGER... AND BOLDER
Brisbane Sydney Canberra
The American Library Association awards Room to Read the “Presidential Citation” Award, while Room to Read’s own awards — the “Zackies” — are created to recognize outstanding chapter performance.
Building Promotional Partnerships Three cause-marketing partnerships were launched in 2009 and garnered us a new audience as well as financial support.
The Republic of Tea, the leading purveyor of premium tea, partnered with Room to Read in the creation of Little Citizens’ Herb Teas for children. For every tin of Little Citizens’ Herb Teas sold, The Republic of Tea is contributing US$1 toward establishing Reading Rooms in Asia and South Africa. Sales from 2009, the first year of the partnership, funded six libraries. Original children’s tea ware, a plush toy and the Year of the Tiger Tea, released in 2010, were also developed as part of the program. In addition, FEED Projects launched a special bag called FEED/READ 3 to promote global education. Proceeds from the sale of each bag, sold exclusively at Barnes & Noble in the United States, support Room to Read’s Local Language Publishing program and the United Nations World Food Program.
In 2009, the Australian software company, Atlassian, sold more than 30,000 licenses across 111 countries to raise over US$250,000 for Room to Read. The promotional campaign offered clients the ability to purchase user licenses for the company’s best-selling products with proceeds benefitting Room to Read.
Pioneering Our Social Media Presence In 2009, one of the hottest new social media platforms, Twitter, chose Room to Read as its first formal Corporate Social Innovation partner. The partnership, which launched in October through the
over 400,000 Twitter followers, placing us in among the top 400 Twitter accounts worldwide. The wine, produced through Crushpad winery, is expected to be released in fall 2010 with US$5 of every bottle sold benefitting Room to Read programs in India.
Making Worldwide Headlines We were honored to have been selected by the Financial Times as the charity partner for its 2009-2010 seasonal appeal to readers. This two-month fundraising campaign, with the help of Barclays Capital as the lead sponsor, raised a record US$4.3
“Not only does Room to Read’s get-things-done approach speak to our start-up mentality, but as a company we want to find ways to make a positive impact in the - Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter world.” announcement of a Twitter-branded wine called Fledgling (@fledgling), generated enormous media coverage for Room to Read, including more than 200 news and blog articles. It also allowed Room to Read (@roomtoread) to collect
Dubai Cares funds over 700,000 Room to Read books through its Million Book Challenge, which invited students to collectively read one million books in two weeks.
million for Room to Read’s programs and garnered widespread attention through the publishing of more than 10 feature stories on Room to Read.
Global PR firm Ketchum chooses Room to Read as its exclusive nonprofit partner, and Oliver Wyman Group offers strategic pro bono support.
“The Financial Times believes literacy and access to education form one of the most powerful tools for promoting economic development, which made Room to Read the perfect charity partner for our seasonal appeal.” - Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times
In addition to articles in the Financial Times, Room to Read generated global headlines in a number of other media outlets. Barron’s magazine named John Wood and Room to Read one of the “25 Best Philanthropists,” in a feature profiling the most effective distributors of philanthropic capital globally. The article ranked Room to Read as 11th out of 25 and recognized us as a “high-impact giving” organization. Other major media attention in 2009 included coverage by the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Parade, USA Today, Real Simple, Men’s Journal, and the Washington Post.
Winning Recognition through Awards and Events Room to Read was again awarded Charity Navigator’s 4-star rating (its highest) for sound fiscal management. Charity Navigator is America’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities. Receiving this honor four years in a row is a distinction that only eight percent of their rated charities can claim. Our executive staff was also honored to present a series of keynote and leadership-focused speeches around the world in 2009. John Wood was a featured speaker at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, the Aspen Ideas Festival, and the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, among others. Erin Ganju was a lead presenter at the Women of Influence Conference in Calgary, the San Francisco Entrepreneur’s Organization, and the Professional Business Women of California Conference in San Francisco.
2009 marked the second year of the Room to Dream Campaign – an ambitious, three-year fundraising initiative aimed at raising US$60 million in capital to expand our Reading Room and Local Language Publishing programs. The success of Room to Dream will mean that by 2010 we will have created over 11,000 libraries in impoverished communities across the world. We will publish over 500 original Room to Read children’s book titles through our Local Language Publishing program – and source an additional four million donated English-language children’s books. The Room to Dream Campaign has been a critical component in Room to Read’s success in 2008 and 2009. In fact, at the end of 2009, we had raised twothirds of the campaign goal thanks to the incredible generosity of our closest supporters. The capital raised allows our talented teams to think big as they conceptualize and implement programs to reach children with quality resources, and to develop the greatest return for families, communities and future generations. We are incredibly pleased to report that thanks to Room to Dream, we are well on our way to creating change and opportunity for five million children by the end of 2010.
Room to Read launches operations in Bangladesh and begins piloting literacy and reading projects in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal to ensure its libraries and local language books are better utilized.
P is for Partnership
Corporate and Foundation Sponsors Key Supporters
Throughout Room to Read’s history, corporations and foundations have consistently shown support for Room to Read’s programs and innovative business model. Some of the world’s leading foundations, as well as blue chip funders from every sector and corner of the globe, pledged further support for our global operations and helped Room to Read end its first decade with
Dubai Cares has been a significant partner of Room to Read since their highly successful Million Book Challenge in 2008, enabling us to establish 489 libraries, publish 14 new children’s book titles, and distribute over 700,000 English and local language books across Asia and Africa.
incredible momentum. We thank all of our corporate and foundation partners for their generous contributions. It is their financial 28
contributions and in-kind donations that have allowed us to scale our programs across Asia and Africa, and reach millions of children.
“Room to Read remains one of the best investments the Skoll Foundation has made and demonstrates that social entrepreneurs and their innovations can achieve large-scale impact. We’re confident that Room to Read’s clear vision and commitment to impact will lead to even greater success in the years ahead.” – Sally Osberg, Skoll Foundation President & CEO
2009 planning ahead
Credit Suisse is our largest corporate sponsor, supporting Room to Read through both grants and in-kind resources. Through its Global Education Initiative, Credit Suisse aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of educational opportunities for disadvantaged school-age children and young people worldwide. Credit Suisse supports our Reading Room and School Room programs in Asia and Africa and also provides strategic core support in Africa. Barclays Capital continues its long-standing partnership with Room to Read through its investment in the growth of our Reading Room and Local Language Publishing programs in South East Asia, having supported libraries and local language books for children in Cambodia and Vietnam. Barclays Capital also acted as the lead sponsor in the Financial Times’
In Nepal and Laos, four local language books win awards and in Sri Lanka, programs expand north following the end of the country’s long civil war.
charity appeal for 2009-2010 and was instrumental in helping it become the most successful seasonal campaign in FT history.
Bloomberg is an investor of the Reading Room program in both Asia and Africa, having funded the establishment of Room to Read libraries that serve over 10,000 children in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
Scholastic, Inc. has been a key supporter of our Reading Room program since its inception, in addition to being trusted advisors for the Local Language Publishing program in their capacity as publishing experts. In 2009, Scholastic provided more than 450,000 English-language children’s books, through donations and discounts, for our growing network of libraries. Pearson Longman and the Pearson Foundation continue to support our programs through the generous in-kind donation of thousands of English-language children’s books and via the Pearson Foundation’s new We Give Books Program.
“As part of Credit Suisse’s commitment to playing an active role in society, we have been proud to work with Room to Read over the past five years. We look forward to continuing to support them as they strive to raise awareness of the importance of education globally and expand their projects to create further opportunities for those in need.” – Hans-Ulrich Doerig, Chairman of Credit Suisse Group AG & Chairman of the Credit Suisse Foundation
Corporate & Foundation Donors $50,000 and over
ABeam Consulting Ltd. Adolf H. Lundin Charitable Foundation Atlassian Foundation Barclays Capital Better World Books Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bloomberg L.P. Bol.com Bookoff Corporation Limited CAF Australia Clifford Chance Credit Suisse De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek NV Deutsche Bank Dodge & Cox Investment Managers Dubai Cares
Room to Read embarks on its next strategic plan to take the organization into its second decade.
Feed Projects, LLC Four Acre Trust Goldman Sachs Foundation John and Frances Beck Foundation Kadoorie Charitable Foundation Linklaters Microsoft Planet Wheeler Foundation Prudential Corporation Asia Quintessentially Skoll Foundation Symantec Corporation The ELMA Foundation The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation The Warburg Pincus Foundation The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Western Union Foundation Zennström Philanthropies
In-Kind Donors $50,000 and over (1/1/2009-12/31/2009)
Brother’s Brother Foundation Credit Suisse Lafarge Pearson Longman/Pearson Foundation Sabre Foundation Salesforce.com Scholastic, Inc. Room to Read would like to recognize Credit Suisse for their generous in-kind support of office space in London, Hong Kong and Tokyo, as well as the Financial Times for providing office space in New York. Special thanks to Lafarge for their donation and delivery of cement shipments for Room to Read infrastructure projects and coordination of book shipments within Zambia.
The chapter network, now totaling over 40, expands into Australia, India and the Middle East.
E is for Efficient
Financial Statement Room to Read is committed to maintaining a careful balance between its ambitious program objectives and operating efficiency. Room to Read has been recognized for its exceptional fiscal responsibility and financial health, and has been awarded the coveted Charity Navigator 4-star rating each year since 2006.
Highlights of our 2009 financials include:
> Robust revenue growth with US$28.3 million in cash and stock donations – a 28 percent increase over the prior year’s total of US$22.2 million; and US$4.3 million in donations in kind, primarily children’s books > US$13.1 million raised outside the U.S. through foreign fundraising offices, chapters and affiliates – a 27 percent increase over the prior year’s total of US$10.3 million > US$23.5 million invested toward our programs – a 16 percent increase over the prior year’s total of US$20.2 million > Programmatic spending constituted 83 percent of our total expenses, meaning that only 17 cents out of every dollar spent went toward overhead
Statement of Activities
For the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2008 (USD) SUPPORT AND REVENUE
School and Other
Donations in Kind
Investment Income/ (Loss)
Total Support and Revenue
Donated Books and Supplies
Local Language Publishing
Conferences, Travel and Meeting Costs
In-Country Personnel Expenses
US and Regional Personnel Expenses
Total Program Services
Management and General
Total Operating Expenses
Change in Unrestricted Net Assets
Change in Temporarily Restricted Net Assets
Unrestricted Net Assets at Beginning of the Year Temporarily Restricted Net Assets at Beginning of the Year Net Assets at End of the Year
Room to Read is chosen by the Financial Times as its seasonal appeal charity and by Twitter as its first corporate social innovation partner.
2009 Donations by Type of Donor
Individuals 65% Foundation 19% Corporation 15% School and Other 1%
2009 Sources of Revenue by Region
Americas 56% Asia/Pacific 18% Europe 17% Middle East/ Africa 9%
2009 Total Expenses
Program Services 83% Fundraising, Management and General 17%
2010 year of tens
2009 Program Functional Expense Breakdown
Reading Room Program 59% School Room Program 23% Girls’ Education Program 13% Local Language Publishing Program 5%
Room to Read sharpens its focus to impact literacy and gender equality in education.
In its 10th official year, Room to Read celebrates its “year of tens” with the opening of its 10,000th library and the addition of the 10,000th girl to the Girls’ Education program.
Board and Staff Board of Directors John Wood (Board Chair), Founder, Room to Read Christopher S. Beer, Founding Member, Ironmark Law Group Craig Bruya, Former Chief Financial Officer, Microsoft Business Solutions
Lisa Hogen, Chief Development Officer
Addy Loudiadis, Partner, Goldman Sachs
Dhir Jhingran, Chief Program Officer
Melissa J. Ma, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Asia Alternatives Management LLC
Dr. Cory Heyman, Strategic Advisor Lori McLeese, Chief People Officer Steven Zimmerman, Chief of Operations
Patte McDowell, Founder & Board Chair, Cloud 9 Foundation
Arul Menezes, Principal Software Architect, Microsoft Research
Wiseman Ngwata, Regional Director, Southern Africa
Dr. Shirley Miske, President & Senior Consultant, Miske Witt & Associates Inc.
Dinesh Shrestha, Co-Founder and Regional Human Resources and Administration Director
Kim Anstatt Morton
David Monk, Vice President, NERA Economic Consulting
Mohlago Mary Tsebe, Regional Program Director, Southern Africa
Dambisa Moyo, Economist and Author, â€œDead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africaâ€?
Dr. Karen Mundy, Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair, University of Toronto
Fernando Reimers, Director of International Education Policy, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Stasia Obremskey, Chief Financial Officer, Posit Science
Jerry del Missier, President, Barclays Capital Scott Kapnick, Managing Partner, Highbridge Capital Management Tim Koogle, Former Chief Executive Officer, Yahoo!
Rob Flaherty, President & Senior Partner, Ketchum, Inc.
John Ridding, Chief Executive Officer, Financial Times
M.R. Rangaswami, Co-Founder, Sand Hill Group LLC
Hilary Valentine, Partner, Black & White Design
Dr. Carol Knuth Sakoian, Vice President, International Business Development, Scholastic International
Tim Wood, Director, Mobile Health Innovation, Grameen Foundation
John Bothamley, Founder & Trustee, Four Acre Trust
Melody Zavala, Director, Books for Asia, The Asia Foundation
Ernest Chow, Partner & Founder, Sensato Capital Management
Dr. Luis Crouch, Vice President, International Development Group, RTI International
John Wood, Founder & Board Chair
2015 envisioning our future
Erin Ganju, Co-Founder & CEO Joanne Chou, Chief Financial Officer
Room to Read will reach more than 10 million children in over a dozen countries in the developing world.
Sunisha Ahuja, Country Director, India and Acting Country Director, Vietnam Florence Chibwesha, Zambia Country Director Glenfrey De Mel, Sri Lanka Country Director Zaki Hasan, Bangladesh Country Director Kall Kann, Cambodia Country Director Christopher Mothupi, South Africa Country Director Somphet Phongphachanh, Laos Country Director Pushkar Shrestha, Nepal Country Director
photo credits Cover, pages 2, 17 (bottom), 33: Charlie Bibby for the Financial Times. Pages 1, 8, 9, 14 (left), 17 (bottom): Peter Stuckings. Pages 4, 14 (right), 17 (top): Ben Stansall for the Financial Times. Pages 5, 13 (right), 16, 17: thepositivestory.com. Page 20 (right): Andrea McTamaney. Page 21: Andrew Grey. Page 24 (timeline): courtesy of the Clinton Global Initiative. Page 27 (right): Dana Smillie. design: Melanie Doherty Design, illustrations: Julia Rothman
C is for Committed
Room to Read believes that World Change Starts with Educated Children. We envision a world in which all children can pursue a quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.
Room to Read Global Office • 111 Sutter Street, 16th Floor • San Francisco, CA 94104 • United States • +1 415 561 3331 www.roomtoread.org Room to Read (New York) 1330 Avenue of the Americas 9th Floor New York, NY 10019 United States
Room to Read (London) One Cabot Square London E14 4QJ United Kingdom
Room to Read (Hong Kong) 22/F International Commerce Centre One Austin Road West Kowloon Hong Kong
Room to Read (Japan) Izumi Garden Tower 26F 1-6-1 Roppongi Minato-ku Tokyo, 106-6024 Japan
We would like to thank Credit Suisse for generously donating office space in London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo as well as the Financial Times for providing office space in New York.