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John Wood, Founder and Executive Chairman, launched Room to Read after a trek through Nepal. He visited several local schools and 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.
Founding Room to Read, John wove proven corporate business practices with his inspiring vision to provide educational access to 10 million children in the developing world. His novel approach to non-profit management called for:
Room to Read began working with rural communities in Nepal in 2000 to build schools and establish libraries. The organization's geographic reach expanded rapidly as significant needs and opportunities were identified in Vietnam (2001), Cambodia (2002) and India (2003). The Asian Tsunami in December 2004 provided a catalyst for entry into Sri Lanka followed shortly by Laos. In 2006, we expanded to our second continent by launching Room to Read in South Africa, and we began work in Zambia in 2007. In 2008, we began operations in Bangladesh and will commence program activities in 2009.