Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy
Luncheon presentation by John Wood, Social Entrepreneur, Founder and Co-Chair, Room to Read
For those living in the developed world, it is inconceivable to imagine a life without books or to imagine their children not being able to read. Yet there are 775 million people in the world who cannot read — the vast majority of them in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. That neglect has devastating consequences which can lead to health crises, sexual exploitation and damaged self-worth.
Room to Read, established in 1999, aims to address that, and has since benefitted over 7.5 million children in 10 countries across Asia and Africa with the lifelong gift of education and literacy. To date, Room to Read has opened over 1,600 schools and 15,000 libraries, distributed more than 12 million books and supported over 20,000 girls to succeed in secondary school and beyond. Founder and Co-Chair John Wood will speak on Room to Read’s business model and blueprint for how to do good the right way. He will also discuss the organization’s next steps, including the challenges of managing expansion while maintaining integrity, raising money in a collapsing economy, promoting gender equality through scholarships for girls and changing the mission to include not just building libraries but also publishing books for children.
John Wood is Founder and Co-Chair of Room to Read and author of Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy. A former Microsoft marketing executive, Wood left the company in 1999 to set up the organization. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Clinton Global Initiative and the first Microsoft Alumni of the Year, an award bestowed by Bill and Melinda Gates. Wood also teaches at graduate level at the Wagner School of Public Policy at New York University and Harvard Graduate School of Education. He holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Northwestern University.