Read me, no really

By Katherine Zelt

It was during a 1998 trekking trip in the Himalayas that John Wood, founder and CEO of Room to Read, decided to leave his job as an executive at Microsoft and dedicate his life to his now globally recognized organization that strives to help provide impoverished children with an education.

Room to Read is a non-governmental organization founded by Wood, author of Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children, has provided over 8,000 girls with long-term scholarships and helped deprived communities build over 550 schools and over 5,000 free-standing libraries around the world since 2000.

“The problem he is trying to address is the fact that there are 100 million children in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa that have zero access to any sort of education infrastructure to speak of,” said Room to Read Calgary Chapter president Michael Lynn. “One hundred million kids don’t have a library in their community, don’t have a school to attend and can’t get access to a book let alone a book in their own language and a problem like this requires ideas that scale and also ones that enable those in communities to take true ownership of that education infrastructure once you invest in it.”

Of the approximate $21 million raised by Room to Read this year, nearly one third will come from the funds raised by local chapters throughout North America and Europe.

“One of the key differences between Room to Read and other organizations is that [Wood] is doing it through close partnership with local government and local communities,” said Lynn.

Room to Read’s Calgary Chapter hosts a fundraising luncheon at the Westin Hotel on Nov. 10. Wood will be in attendance.

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