It was definitely one of those “pinch me” moments -- standing on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York with Robert Diamond, Barclays Capital PLC president,and Noa Meyer, vice-president of Goldman Sachs, as former Philippine President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, announced our major commitment which will affect the lives of millions of children in Africa and Asia. Minutes later, Nicholas Kristof praised Room to Read’s work in a panel discussion about girls’ education. When it rains it pours, and on this last day of summer in New York, we’re hoping for a downpour!
Our commitment: over the next two years, Room to Read will establish 4,000 additional libraries, improve school infrastructure, train teachers on library and reading skills, pilot literacy initiatives among primary school children, and publish 370 new local language titles, so that close to one million girls and one million boys will have enhanced educational resources.
Additionally, Room to Read will equip thousands of girls with life skills and support to ensure their completion of secondary school. These ambitious goals will be accomplished through the hard work of our country teams and the support of key partnerships with Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, the U.S. State Department, CLSA Asia Pacific as well as individual funders.
Though our commitment was made before an audience of some of the world’s most influential business, political and philanthropic leaders, it was, more importantly, a promise made to millions of children in Africa and Asia awaiting the opportunity to learn to read and write. And it’s a promise we intend to keep – in a big way!
Three years ago, Room to Read co-founder and CEO, Erin Ganju, and I made another bold promise on this CGI stage: to double the impact of our work by establishing a total of 10,000 libraries and printing 3.5 million copies of local language children’s books by end the of 2010. In March of this year, I proudly cut the ribbon at the opening of our 10,000th library. These libraries are filled with colorful and culturally rich children’s books published by Room to Read, and at last count, the total number of books printed surpassed 4.3 million. When Room to Read promises, we deliver! Our supporters expect it, and millions of children are counting on it.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Room to Read’s 10th anniversary than by rallying our global network of supporters to help us take the next giant step into creating a world where children, no matter where they’re born and no matter what their gender, can enjoy the myriad of benefits of education.
I’ll be spending the next couple of days at CGI shaking hands, doling out my business cards and making sure Room to Read becomes top of mind in discussions around education in Asia and Africa. The world is ripe for action-oriented optimists, and we’re thrilled and extremely proud to be leading the charge to close the gender gap in global education.
For more information about the CGI announcement, read our recent press release.