Room to Read: Ending Illiteracy Around the World

In today’s economic climate, it is rare to hear big banks and hedge fund groups described as “some of the most generous people”. But that is exactly how John Wood, founder and executive chairman of Room to Read, describes members of such groups like Goldman Sachs and Cardiff Swiss – groups that have helped fund this admirable literacy initiative.

 Wood, a former senior executive with Microsoft, was recently interviewed on about his literacy venture. About 10 years ago, he visited rural Nepal and was astonished by the lack of reading material and access to educational materials. He saw an empty library that was responsible for serving over 500 students. A Nepalese headmaster told him, “We are too poor to afford education. But until we have education, we will always be poor.” This was the driving force behind his leaving Microsoft and starting Room to Read, a non-profit organization providing educational access to millions of children across the world.

 Room to Read is currently celebrating their 10,000th library opening. In ten years they have also opened 1,000 schools and educated 10,000 girls. The goal is to conquer the astounding 771 million illiterate adults around the world. Wood admits that he uses his former business mentality to manage Room to Read. He believes by setting large goals and working in a performance driven culture, the success of this non-profit is second to none. As his team celebrated their 10,000th library opening “for about a nanosecond”, they were already discussing how to reach 20,000.

 Room to Read also uses social networking to promote their venture and seek support. They were one of the first corporations approached by Twitter to produce an account on the site. Twitter executives stated, “If kids can’t read and write, they can’t tweet.”

 It is refreshing to hear of large corporations backing ventures like Room to Read. With their continued help, John Wood will reach is 20,000th library and beyond.  And we look forward to seeing the impact that organizations like this will have on literacy around the world.

 For more information about Room to Read, click here.

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