There is nothing more vital to an individual’s success and fulfillment than education. That’s what first attracted me to Room to Read many years ago, and it’s what continues to fuel my passion today. My faith in this organization has only grown as I’ve seen it repeatedly rise to any challenge and far exceed expectations, whether it’s persevering through COVID-19 and the related aftershocks or delivering on a plan to benefit 20 million children in five years — doubling the impact of the 20 years prior.
Our donors care deeply about how their money is invested, and Room to Read displays the discipline one would typically expect in a world-class for-profit business in pursuit of a clear, compelling and attainable mission: creating a world free of illiteracy and gender inequality. The results that Room to Read achieves are indisputable: Children in Room to Read schools read faster and with greater comprehension than children in comparison schools. Likewise, a strong majority of participants in Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program stay in school and go on to land good jobs or engage in tertiary education. We are living in a world with many challenges and no easy answers, but education is a fundamentally solvable problem, and Room to Read is uniquely equipped to solve it. Room to Read knows how to build exceptionally strong local teams who are a part of the local community and deliver proven programs at scale. I’ve seen this work in action many times over the years, most recently when my family visited a Room to Read school and library in South Africa. Nothing beats spending time in a classroom surrounded by smiling children as they proudly display their literacy skills. Watching students’ faces light up as they sound out a new word, with the support of an encouraging teacher, is an unforgettable experience. These “lightbulb” moments are especially meaningful to me because I know how challenging learning can be. It was only through the dedication of my teachers and support of my family that I was able to overcome dyslexia and learn to read. I know from experience that just a single teacher believing in you can change your life’s trajectory. As Global Board Chair, I look forward to helping more young people gain access to life-changing teachers, encouraging mentors and high-quality learning materials by supporting Room to Read — particularly as we work in new regions, like the Middle East, as well as in emergency settings and refugee communities for the first time. In my life, there have been many professional successes, but nothing makes me prouder than my work with Room to Read. I am humbled and grateful to work with our extensive network of brilliant and dedicated supporters as we help create brighter futures for millions of children every year, and, in doing so, create brighter futures for us all.
Yusuf Alireza, Room to Read Global Board Chair
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