Back to About Us

Frequently Asked Questions

Room to Read collaborates with local communities, partner organizations and governments to ensure that primary school children can become independent readers and girls can complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions. We set measurable goals and are committed to collecting action-oriented data to ensure our programs are run with quality and impact, while maximizing cost efficiencies.

Our Literacy Program transforms primary schools into a child-friendly learning environment that enables children to develop the skills and habit of reading throughout primary school and become life-long, independent readers. Our school intervention includes ensuring the facility has a structured library with books in the children’s local language, as well as teachers and librarians who are trained in the best practices of reading and writing instruction. Key to our program is ensuring that families, communities and governments are all engaged in the transformation of the school and committed to its success.

Our Girls’ Education Program ensures that girls complete secondary school and have the skills to negotiate key life decisions. Our program reinforces girls’ commitment to their own education, works with girls to develop essential life skills and increases support for girls’ education among their parents, school staff, and communities. The key to our program are our social mobilizers, local women who are hired as mentors and work with girls and their families to ensure that girls stay in school, participate in activities, and navigate the challenges of adolescence with the ability to make their own life choices, both personally and professionally.


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.


Our website is the most comprehensive source of information about Room to Read. We invite you to explore the abundant information about our programs, audited financial statements, and our most recent annual reports.


In 1998, then-Microsoft Executive John Wood went on a trip to Nepal that would not only change his life, but also lay the foundation for Room to Read. After a chance encounter led John to witness the crushing poverty and lack of education resources at a school high in the Himalayas, he returned home with a mission: collect enough books to start a library for that one school. John’s first book drive led to many more, and after a short while, he left his career at Microsoft to found a charity called Books for Nepal.

Later, John met Erin Ganju, Room to Read’s current CEO, who helped him expand his project into Vietnam—launching the first international expansion of the organization now known as Room to Read.

Room to Read became an official 501c3 organization in 2000, and has since grown its program operations to ten countries across two continents.


Room to Read is a non-sectarian non-governmental organization. 


Room to Read is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and takes great pride in our financial efficiency, our accountability to donors, and our transparency.

View Financials

We do not see educational investment as an either/or proposition. Every community could benefit from improvements in education, but in the communities where we work, a relatively small investment can have major impact in the lives of hundreds or thousands of children.

We believe that every child deserves a quality education, no matter the situation they were born into, but the truth is that in many parts of Asia and Africa—especially in rural communities—many children are still denied this basic human right. 


Where opportunities exist to distribute materials beyond our project sites, we coordinate with our existing local NGO and government partners.


A lot happens at Room to Read, so to make sure you are getting all the latest results numbers, expansion updates and event information, be sure to sign up for our email list to be included in news and updates about the organization. We also post regularly to our Twitter feed, Facebook page, Blog, YouTube Channel and Medium page, so no matter where you live, you can always stay in touch. 


Room to Read partners with companies of all types and size, whose support fuels our work and helps us scale our programs.

Partner with Us

Room to Read partners with companies in a variety of ways, including grant partnerships, cause marketing partnerships, employee engagement and fundraising, and gifts-in-kind.

Partner with Us


Every year, thousands of students and schools around the world join us in championing our cause. From grade school to graduate school, our Students Helping Students network has established campus and school clubs, hosting read-a-thons, creating outreach videos or any number of activities to support our work.

Rally your School

Our media page includes a fact sheet, photos, logos, descriptions of our work, and our brand identity standards. 


Given the rural location, frequent lack of internet access and electricity in our program schools, a pen pal project or ongoing relationship with a school in our program countries is not something we are able to facilitate. Our staff has their hands full implementing our programs and we do not want to interfere with their curriculum or progress to implement new initiatives outside the scope of our mission and not strategically aligned with local classroom needs.


Partner organizations are an important strategic aspect of Room to Read’s business model.  We work in collaboration with local NGOs in order to build upon the strengths of existing work and ensure long-term sustainability.  NGO partnerships are identified as part of our in-country strategic planning.  Due to the volume of partnership opportunities, we cannot respond to unsolicited program partnership requests. 


Room to Read collaborates with local communities, partner organizations and governments to ensure that primary school children can become independent readers and girls can complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions. We set measurable goals and are committed to collecting action-oriented data to ensure our programs are run with quality and impact, while maximizing cost efficiencies.

Our  Literacy Program transforms primary schools into child-friendly learning environments that enable children to develop the skills and habit of reading throughout primary school and become life-long, independent readers. Our school intervention includes ensuring the facility has a structured library with books in the children’s local language, as well as teachers and librarians who are trained in the best practices of reading and writing instruction. Key to our program is ensuring that families, communities and governments are all engaged in the transformation of the school and committed to its success.

Our  Girls’ Education Program ensures that girls complete secondary school and have the skills to negotiate key life decisions. Our program reinforces girls’ commitment to their own education, works with girls to develop essential life skills and increases support for girls’ education among their parents, school staff, and communities. Key to our program are our social mobilizers, local women who are hired as mentors and work with girls and their families to ensure that girls stay in school, participate in activities, and navigate the challenges of adolescence with the ability to make their own life choices, both personally and professionally.


We love hearing that you were moved by the stories of our students in our programs! It has long been Room to Read’s philosophy not to establish a direct one-to-one relationship between our donors and individual students. There are a few reasons this has been our policy, including that we want the children in our programs to see that their local community can facilitate their expanded educational opportunities and the solutions to their problems can be found within their local resources.  Learn more about how our programs empower local communities with the tools they need to be successful. 


We act as a non-governmental charitable organization. Because we work in public (government) schools, we partner with government ministries of education to implement our educational projects but are not involved in their politics. 

See Where We Work

In 2000 Room to Read launched in Nepal, our first country of operation. As the organization grew, we began to identify other countries facing similar educational challenges that our programs were suited to address, which led to expansion into nine more countries across Asia and Africa. Room to Read Accelerator is our technical assistance unit which works in other low-income countries to reach more children across the globe. 

See Where We Work Room to Read Office Locations

Room to Read Accelerator is our technical assistance unit that provides services in children’s literacy and girls’ education based on award-winning programs that are research-based and locally contextualized. Accelerator is designed for clients such as ministries of education, non-governmental organizations and others who are interested in improving the literacy skills of children in primary grades, and providing girls with the life skills they need to complete secondary school and navigate key life decisions.

Room to Read receives many requests to work in other low-income countries across the globe. With our full commitment to our ten countries of operation and given limited resources, the organization developed our technical assistance approach as a way to reach more children through shorter-term projects of two to five years.

 

Learn About Room to Read Accelerator

Where opportunities exist to distribute materials beyond our project sites, we coordinate with our existing local NGO and government partners.


Room to Read is growing every day—serving new communities and new regions in our 10 countries of operation and through Room to Read Accelerator, our technical assistance unit which works in other low-income countries to reach more children across the globe. Recognizing that the need for our work exists in many other countries across the developing world, we are firmly committed to increasing the international footprint of our programs. As such, we conduct research to determine countries that could benefit the most from Room to Read services and maintain a list at all times of potential expansion countries.


Unfortunately, it is not that simple. As mentioned above in “plans for expansion”, we have a detailed planning process that guides our expansion into new countries and is designed to ensure that our programs are the best possible match for a country’s educational challenges. For this reason, we focus our expansion first on countries that are determined to be the best fits for our work. 


One of Room to Read’s fundamental operating principles is community participation, so our local teams take great care in identifying each project site. While selection criteria may vary by country or program, there are three non-negotiable requirements:

  1. Needs assessment: Before beginning work, our team conducts a thorough assessment of each community to ensure that there is a genuine need for Room to Read’s support and that our programs can have a significant positive impact.
  2. Widespread community support: By agreeing to our “Challenge Grant” model, each community commits to assisting in project implementation and maintenance, both of which are essential to the sustainability of Room to Read’s programs.
  3. Government approval: Because we work in government (public) schools, the Ministry of Education at the local or national level (varies by country) must approve project locations before we can begin work.

To estimate the number of children for whom we provide access to educational resources, we take into consideration several factors. We count the total number of children provided access to our School Libraries over an eight year period; our School Construction projects over ten years; and all participants in our Girls’ Education Program. These figures are based on school enrollment during the first year of the program and the estimated enrollment of new classes thereafter. All enrollment figures are collected by our in-country staff through surveying and monitoring visits. Because we often offer multiple programs at the same project site, we also account for program layering to avoid double-counting. 


We currently are only able to provide support for girls transitioning through secondary school and already within our programs.


Room to Read shares project management responsibilities with each partner community. Through our Challenge Grant, community members are expected to co-invest in the project by providing cash, materials or “sweat equity” (donation of labor). This model sets the stage for long-term sustainability, and gives the local community both a high level of visibility to the project’s progress and a real stake in its success.

We provide library management training to build capacity so school staff members are able to manage the library. We have community mobilizers who work in the field with the individuals who directly carry out our programs. For example, community mobilizers work directly with librarians to provide on-site technical assistance and help with the implementation of the School Libraries program.

Room to Read’s Literacy Program focuses on beginning readers, however we encourage all students in each school to utilize the library and to be given allotted reading time during the school day.

Learn More About Our Programs

Yes! Each year we arrange site visits for anyone who desires to see our work and you can register for these engagement opportunities through our Site Visits page.

See Our Work

To maintain our operational efficiency and direct our resources to our partner communities, we are not able to provide travel advice for the countries where we work.


Making a donation to Room to Read is quick and simple! You can donate online through our secure website. For other ways to give, including checks, wire transfers and other ways to give, please refer to giving information provided by each of our business office locations.


Yes! You can make a tax-efficient donation to Room to Read in several currencies through our website.

Room to Read has locally-recognized business offices around the world that accept offline donations in several currencies. Donations made to Room to Read are tax-efficient to the extent allowed by your country's local laws.

Donate Online Today

The most impactful way to support Room to Read is by contributing to our programs and operations through a gift to our greatest needs. Unrestricted gifts provide us with the crucial flexibility and security to ensure students have the holistic support they need to succeed. Specifically, your investment will allow us to:

  • Scale rapidly and work where we are needed most.
  • Provide the best programs possible through ongoing improvement.
  • Be ready for the unexpected, such as a natural disaster or an economic recession.

We do not accept used book donations. Instead, Room to Read has formed a very successful relationship with an organization called Better World Books, which collects and resells used books to benefit our programs.  If you already have extra books on-hand, why not host an Ultimate Book Swap instead? Then you and your friends get a new book, while helping kids in Asia and Africa get new books, too! 

For more information about what in-kind gifts Room to Read accepts, please visit the Partners section of our website. 


Room to Read is unable to sell any books published through our book publishing work. The copyrights for these books are held in the countries where the books are produced and the international copyright regulations do not allow this.


You can start your personal fundraising campaign today. Once you’ve created your fundraiser, don’t forget to share it with your friends, family, and greater network. The more people you share your page with, the closer you move toward your goal! 

Start Your Campaign

We're excited to hear you're interested in supporting our work, thank you! To maximize your impact, we strongly encourage donors to contribute to our greatest needs rather than a specific program or country of operation. Unrestricted gifts allow us the crucial flexibility and security that is needed to ensure the excellence and growth of our programs. 

By contributing to our greatest needs, you ensure that Room to Read has the ability to scale our work rapidly, improve our programs, and be ready for the unexpected.  

Give Now

Yes. Room to Read gladly accepts gifts of stock. Please refer to our remittance instructions for your nearest Room to Read business office.

Room to Read Locations

Online donations are receipted via email.  Your email tax receipt should arrive within five business days of your online donation.  For offline donations, a tax receipt will be mailed to you within ten days of receiving your donation.

To request a replacement tax receipt, please contact finance@roomtoread.org.


Yes! We would be happy to send a printed acknowledgement card. Please email the following details to donate@roomtoread.org with the subject line “[First + Last Name] Request for Acknowledgement Card”

Include the following information in your email message:

  • Donor’s full name
  • Donation date
  • Donation amount
  • Recipient's full name as it should appear on envelope
  • Acknowledgment type ("in honor of ___", etc.)
  • Recipient's address

Please note that due to our limited capacity, we cannot guarantee that the card will be mailed within a specific time frame. 


Your local business office will be happy to help you update this information.

Thank you for your ongoing support! 


Through our community challenge grant and other processes, we aim to build projects that are sustainable and that encourage community investment and ownership. Our model makes it so that schools have the foundation to successfully operate years after it has been built. Therefore, we do not provide additional support to partner schools after completing our three years of support.


It is Room to Read’s philosophy not to establish a direct one-to-one relationships between our donors and individual students. There are a few reasons this has been our policy, including that we want the children in our programs to see that their local community can facilitate their expanded educational opportunities and the solutions to their problems can be found within their local resources.


The best way to get involved with Room to Read is to become an advocate for literacy and girls' education.  Several opportunities to take action are available on our website.

Take Action

Are you a passionate individual looking for a career opportunity?

Browse Careers

Yes! Our volunteers are part of our global chapter network and contribute to Room to Read's success by organizing fundraising events, spreading the word, and connecting Room to Read to individuals, corporations, foundations, and schools who might be interested in partnering to provide education to children in low-income countries.

Find a Chapter Near You

We do not offer overseas volunteer opportunities for foreigners to volunteer within our offices. Our business model rests firmly on empowering the local people in the countries in which we work to implement our projects.

We do encourage the local communities to get involved and co-own the projects we help establish. We have found this model significantly impacts the long term sustainability of these projects.

You can volunteer with Room to Read through our passionate volunteer network of chapters that fundraise, raise awareness and advocate for Room to Read around the world.

Find a Chapter Near You

Throughout the world, volunteers for Room to Read help raise funds and spread the word about the incredible work we are doing. Our volunteers work both on their own by starting a campaign or spreading the word about our work and in partnership with other volunteers through our volunteer-led chapters.

The opportunities to create world change are endless! How will you give education?

Take Action

Chapters are groups of passionate and committed individuals who collectively represent Room to Read's global volunteer network and lead local outreach, fundraising and activism in their communities.

Find a Chapter Near You

Many of our supporters choose to host fundraisers, such as cocktail parties, read-a-thons, and dinner parties to benefit our programs. These fundraisers are an integral part of our success. In addition to helping to fund our programs, they also offer an excellent opportunity to share the story of Room to Read with new potential supporters.

Host an Event

You're in luck - we have all the resources you'll need for a successful event on our website! Please be sure to check out our: 

  • Resource Hub: our space to share our latest resources. From printables to Facebook cover photos, we have you covered. 
  • Media Page: Here you'll find high-resolution photos and videos of our work and inspiring student stories. 
  • Students Helping Students: Learn more about our global network of youth changemakers and get inspired by their stories. 
  • Start a Fundraising Campaign: Once you decide on a  goal, you can use your campaign to raise funds and track your progress on your personal page. 

Yes! You can start your personal fundraising campaign today. Once you’ve created your page, don’t forget to spread the word with your friends, family, and greater network. The more people you share your page with, the closer you move toward your goal! 

Start Your Campaign

Room to Read partners with companies in a variety of ways, including grant partnerships, cause marketing partnerships, employee engagement and fundraising, and gifts-in-kind.

Partner with Us

Students Helping Students (SHS), is the youth-action arm of Room to Read. As students, we have the power to change the world by standing up for literacy and gender equality in education. By uniting our creativity, leadership skills and entrepreneurial spirit, we've built a global network of students who organize in support of Room to Read.

Rally Your School

Every year, thousands of students and schools around the world join us in championing our cause. From grade school to graduate school, our Students Helping Students network has established campus groups and school clubs, hosted read-a-thons, created outreach videos or performed any number of activities to support our work.

Rally your School

We strongly encourage you to view our fundraiser resources and student resources for engagement opportunities. You’ll find fundraising tools and tips to help get you started. Feel free to tweak the material so it’s family-friendly and appropriate for all ages.


Room to Read’s mission is to partner with local authors and illustrators through our Literacy Program. Our work is most effective and sustainable when we work with local individuals in the community. This also promotes the stability and longevity of our work.

Our only current exception is for story submissions for manuscripts in Hindi. If your support fits this exception, please email info@roomtoread.org with the subject line “[First + Last Name] Providing QRM Support for Hindi Manuscripts”


Due to geographic restrictions and the number of requests we receive per year, we are unable to honor all requests for speakers. We encourage you to reach out to a chapter near you and see if there is an available representative for your event.

You can also find many resources for raising awareness and funds for our work in our Resource Hub!

Visit Our Resource Hub

Visits to Room to Read partner schools are open to anyone. We cannot accommodate separately-organized private visits to our partner communities.

See Our Work

Room to Read periodically offers internships ranging in length from one to three months. Available internship opportunities are posted on our Careers page.

Careers

Invest in children's education today.