SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 26 2011 – READ (Rural Education and Development) Global announced today a major grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen the organization’s capacity for future growth. This grant combines the foundation’s unwavering commitment to public library systems with READ Global’s unique approach to sustainable development and empowerment in rural Asia through Community Library and Resource Centers (READ Centers).

“The READ Global model demonstrates the positive impact that libraries are having on people’s lives in the developing world. Community owned and managed READ Centers are allowing rural villagers to gain literacy skills, access important health information and improve their livelihoods,” said Deborah Jacobs, Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation’s Global Libraries initiative. “We are thrilled to partner with an organization that is changing lives and transforming entire communities through libraries.”

The grant will be disbursed over three years during which READ’s operations in India, Nepal and Bhutan will initiate comprehensive projects designed to broaden and deepen the organization’s impact in rural communities. Funds will be invested in three key areas:

  • Expansion of information communications technology (ICT) offerings in new and existing READ Centers, enabling rural villagers to more effectively utilize technology and Internet access to improve their lives. A key part of this initiative will be the utilization of solar technology to minimize the effects of blackouts, particularly in areas where electricity is unavailable for up to 16 hours a day.
  • Development of higher income generating business models for the community enterprises that are paired with each center to cover its long-term operating expenses. Increased profits will allow communities to not only ensure the ongoing availability of their READ Center offerings but also provide income opportunities to more community members.
  • Pilot of a “hub and satellite” READ Center model that will enable READ to broaden its reach by connecting communities within close proximity and allowing them to share resources, knowledge and skills. This model will pair a central READ Center with up to three smaller centers in surrounding areas and leverage linkages to create greater impact through awareness and training programs.

“We have made a commitment to establish 30 new READ Centers in South Asia during the next five years. Support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help us bring valuable resources and opportunities to hundreds of thousands of rural villagers who would otherwise have limited or no access to life-changing information,” said Tina Sciabica, Executive Director of READ Global. “We are breaking the cycle of poverty, one village at a time.”

In 2006, READ Nepal received the Access to Learning Award (ATLA) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About READ (Rural Education and Development) Global

READ Global is an international non-profit organization focused on making rural communities in Bhutan, India and Nepal viable places for people to learn, build and prosper. Combining education, enterprise and community development, READ Global partners with rural villages and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to create sustainable livelihoods. Since 1991, READ Global has built more than 57 Community Library and Resource Centers and provided access to vital resources for more than 1.8 million individuals. For more information, visit www.readglobal.org.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at www.gatesfoundation.org or join the conversation at Facebook and Twitter.

Contact: READ Global, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 415.563.3362