Room to Read will expand its flagship Reading Room program to open 5,000 additional libraries by 2010, bringing its total to 10,000 libraries.
- Room to Read will open its 5,000th library in December 2007. The organization will do a unique announcement with Cathay Pacific, involving flying a 777 full of new books, all donated by Scholastic Inc. across the Pacific Ocean. This donation from Cathay Pacific and Scholastic Inc., with the cooperation of Boeing, will be the main media element post-CGI.
- In the next three years, Room to Read will build on its past success establishing Reading Rooms throughout the developing world, and open an additional 5,000 libraries.
- Cost: $20 million
- Current Partners: Scholastic Inc. has agreed to provide at least 750,000 English language children's books to help fill the new libraries over the next three years. Goldman Sachs has committed $1 million towards the initiative in order to establish 450 libraries, train 450 librarians and teachers in librarian management, and donate over 400,000 books to the libraries.
Room to Read will use the following metrics to measure the success of its commitment:
- Number of libraries established
- Number of children who have access to libraries
- Average number of hours per week the libraries are open/accessible
- Number of books published in-country through the Local Language Publishing Program
- Number of English language books donated to the countries in which Room to Read operates
- Number of library teachers/facilitators trained in library management
- Number of new countries of expansion
To increase the likelihood of success and long-term sustainability of its programs, Room to Read enlists community involvement and co-investment. Room to Read's challenge grants require villages to raise a reasonable, but significant portion of the overall expenditure for building a new school, or establishing a library or lab. They often supply land, labor, materials, and small amounts of money to support the project. These challenge grants act as catalysts for community engagement and help ensure that Room to Read's programs are run efficiently and effectively.
Room to Read works in partnership with government and school administrators in order to ensure they understand the importance of a library and the skills that are developed in a library. They aim to provide high-quality, accessible children's books and librarian training in order to develop strong reading habits among children. Community co-investment is an important part of their model, with the goals of enhancing the long-term sustainability of the libraries and promoting usage.
Another key factor in Room to Read's ability to achieve results is its entrepreneurial local staff. The organization hires local professionals who are personally invested in their nation's educational progress, and Room to Read empowers them to make programmatic decisions which are contextually appropriate. Local teams are intimately familiar with the language, conditions, customs, and governments in the countries where they work, and they craft new solutions to the address the specific needs of the local educational system.
In recognition of its innovative and business-minded approach, Room to Read was chosen as one of the country's Top 25 social enterprises by the Fast Company/Monitor Group Social Capitalist awards for the last four years - one of only a few non-profits that have received this honor every year since the award was created. In 2004 and 2006, Room to Read also won the Skoll Foundation's Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Additionally, John Wood, Room to Read's Founder and CEO, was awarded a Draper Richards Fellowship, and was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of Time Magazine's Asian Heroes (the only non-Asian to win this award).
Room to Read is committed to monitoring its progress and tracking its results. To date, Room to Read has impacted the lives of over 1.3 million children by:
- Constructing 287 schools
- Establishing over 3,800 bi-lingual libraries
- Publishing 147 new local language children's titles in eleven languages, printing over 1.4 million books
- Donating over 1.6 million English language children's books
- Funding over 3,440 long-term girls' scholarships; and
- Establishing 136 computer and language labs.