You can find details and links to each, as well as links to AusLit articles on the progress of their work, below.
“Worldreader.org’s mission is to make digital books available to all in the developing world, enabling millions of people to improve their lives.”
“Worldreader.org is a US- and Barcelona-based not-for-profit organization founded by Colin McElwee, ex-Director of Marketing of ESADE Business School, and David Risher, a former executive at Amazon.com and Microsoft Corporation.”
David Risher and his family set on “a year of travel around the world to learn, teach and explore”, visiting such places as China, Vietnam, New Zealand, India and Ecuador.
It was during a visit to the Perpetuo Socorro orphanage in Guayaquil, Ecuador that David came across a padlocked library which had fallen into disuse.
“It was at that point David remembered a conversation with ESADE Business School’s Director of Marketing, Colin McElwee, in which Colin mused about the idea of using e-readers to deliver books to families around the world. In fact, David’s own family and daughters were using e-books as their primary books while they traveled. The contrast was striking: one family traveling the world with e-books, while children who desperately needed help had no access to books at all.
Out of those experiences and conversations came worldreader.org.”
“Worldreader.org treats its donors’ funds seriously and with respect. We have zero tolerance towards bribery or corruption, and would rather decline an opportunity than compromise our organization’s values of integrity and focus on education and literacy.
We value thrift and flexibility. Nearly all of our us are volunteers, and whenever possible we endeavor to partner with other charitably minded organizations rather than spend money on overhead expenses.”
Worldreader.org has done two pilot studies so far; one in Barcelona, Spain and the other in a village near Accra, Ghana. You can read a report on their trial with a classroom of 20 children in Ghana which “focused on logistics, power, support, and user experience in the context of the developing world” here.
Worldreader.org is currently carrying out a year-long program in Ghana. In addition to providing a great benefit to the 400+ students in Ghana, this trial will help to refine effective methods of delivering ebooks to people in developing countries on a much larger scale.
You can keep up to date with worldreader.org news via their blog.
You can make an online donation to worldreader.org here. Donations are tax deductible or can be made anonymously if you choose.
The following information and more is available on Room to Read’s About Us page:
John Wood, founder and executive chairman, launched Room to Read after a trek through Nepal where he visited several local schools. He was amazed by the warmth and enthusiasm of the students and teachers, but also saddened by the shocking lack of resources. Driven to help, John quit his senior executive position with Microsoft and built a global team to work with rural villages to build sustainable solutions to their educational challenges.
In founding Room to Read, John wove proven corporate business practices with his inspiring vision to provide educational access and opportunity to 10 million children in the developing world. His novel approach to non-profit management calls for:
- Scalable, measured, sustainable results
- Low-overhead, allowing maximum investment in educational infrastructure
- Challenge grants fostering community ownership and sustainability
- Strong local staff and partnerships creating culturally relevant programs
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 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.
You can get involved with Room to Read by contacting one of their local Chapters. The Australian Chapters are currently in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra. Room to Read Chapters can be found in many countries around the world.
(John Wood also has a book about the founding of Room to Read, called Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, available both in print and as an ebook.)
The Australian Literature Review