READ partners with rural communities in India, Bhutan, and Nepal to improve quality of life and prospects for the future – particularly for women and children – through access to information, education, and livelihoods resources and trainings. Its model focuses on Community Library and Resource Centers (READ Centers) as a vehicle for social and economic transformation. Combining education, enterprise, and community development, READ collaborates with rural communities to build these Centers and seed for-profit sustaining enterprises to ensure their long-term maintenance and success.
Education | Recognizing that education is critical to personal and economic empowerment, READ programs and resources are centered on creating a culture of reading, learning and knowledge for all - adults and children, students and teachers, literate and illiterate. READ starts by working with the local community to set up READ Centers that contain the following resources:
- A library with 3,000-5,000 books, magazines and newspapers
- An information communications technology (ICT) section with computers, Internet access (where available)
- A women’s empowerment section providing a safe space for women and girls to attend classes and trainings and receive medical exams
- An early childhood section with child-friendly furniture, educational toys, and reading materials
- A multimedia and communications section including TV, video, DVD player, telephone, fax and copying
- A training/meeting hall where staff and partners conduct various programs
On top of this foundation, READ provides trainings based on the needs of the community. Through partnerships with local NGOs and governments, and through READ itself, Centers provide trainings on:
- Livelihood Skills
- Computer Proficiency
- Women's Empowerment
- Community Development and Sustainability
Economic Empowerment | READ works with the community to launch at least one for-profit sustaining enterprise to support each Center, providing a vehicle for the community to cover the costs of maintaining the Center in the long run. Communities use profits from sustaining enterprises to cover librarian salaries, Internet and electricity costs, purchase new books and resources, and maintenance and ongoing operational support for the Center. The net result is a strong sense of pride and ownership of both the Center and the sustaining enterprise. These businesses are governed by Center Management Committees that are supported by various sub-committees for specific branches of the Center such as the library, computer lab, and women's empowerment group.
The "READ Effect" | READ Global has observed that its Centers have a catalytic multigenerational impact on rural communities. READ's pay-it-forward model spreads organically through communities and neighboring areas, thus making its interventions both far-reaching and sustainable.
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CEI approaches in actionDeliveryChains or Networks of schools/centersFinancingLiteracyVocational/technical skillsInformation and Communications Technology (ICT)Other
Model details1991Not-for-profitComprehensive curriculumLiteracyVocational/technical skillsInformation and Communications Technology (ICT)OtherHealth, Environment, Rights, Women's empowerment, Community development and sustainabilityActiveLong-term project
Each READ Center is paired with one or more local businesses, or self-sustaining enterprises, that generate revenue to support the Center and its users.2,097,103
ScaleAs of April 2014, READ Global has served 1.86 million learners in Nepal, 202,105 learners in India, and 34,998 learners in Bhutan.71READ currently operates 54 READ Centers in Nepal, 12 in India, and 5 in Bhutan.
Sustaining Enterprises | READ has launched 103 for-profit, sustaining enterprises to support its READ Centers. 83 have been launched in Nepal, 17 in India, and 3 in Bhutan.
Villages | Worldwide, READ Global serves 211 villages.April, 2014
READ Global has experienced significant growth since 2007. From 1991 to 2006, READ operated only in Nepal with no employees in the US. Prior to 2007, READ’s US-based fundraising efforts produced on overage $200,000 - $250,000 annually, with nearly all of the donations coming from private individuals and/or family foundations. Most donors learned about READ through Founder Toni Neubauer and her adventure travel company, Myths and Mountains. READ Global’s US presence, particularly its fundraising role, was run out of the Myths and Mountains office and supported by a group of dedicated volunteers and READ board members.
In 2006, READ Nepal applied for and received the $1 million Access to Learning Award (ATLA) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, given annually to one organization globally in recognition of the innovative efforts of public libraries or similar efforts to connect people to information. In 2007, READ won the first and only ATLA Replication Grant, which enabled the organization to hire staff in the US for the first time as well as to expand its operations into two new countries—Bhutan and India. After initial inception and set up, READ began establishing Centers in these two countries in 2009/2010. Since then READ has focused on expanding the breadth and depth of its programs, establishing 28 new Centers across all three countries and providing more trainings on education, livelihoods, women’s empowerment, health and more to the communities.
More information on READ Global's progress to date is available via the Interactive Timeline on the READ Global website. This timeline chronicles the organization's growth from its first library launched in Nepal in 1991 to its expansion to India and Bhutan in 2008.
Monitoring & EvaluationYes
To determine the impact of READ Centers in rural communities of Nepal, India, and Bhutan, READ Global worked with the research and evaluation firm Learning for Action (LFA) in 2012 and 2013 to develop a monitoring and evaluation strategy. This strategy focuses on the following areas of impact:
- Access to, usage of, and exchange of knowledge, information, and resources
- Women's empowerment
- Economic opportunities for community members
- Community ownership and engagement with READ Centers
Outcomes data is collected via surveys administered to Center users - including targeted surveys given to women, youth, teachers, and livelihood training participants - as well as Center Management Committee members. These surveys are either self-administered or administered by READ Global staff and volunteers. Mixed-gender and women-only groups also participate in focus groups conducted by READ staff and volunteers to provide more in-depth, qualitative information about READ Global's impact.Yes