INCLINE VILLAGE, NV, Jan. 1, 2007 – READ Global has announced plans to replicate its successful rural development program in India by the end of 2007. The Lake Tahoe-based social enterprise has designed a sustainable development model that pairs non-profit libraries with for-profit ventures to empower rural communities worldwide.
The India program is part of READ Global’s phased international expansion that already includes a successful beta site in Nepal. READ Nepal, founded in 1991, was the 2006 recipient of the $1 million dollar Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Access to Learning Award.
“India’s villages are beautiful,” said Dr. Antonia Neubauer, READ founder and chairperson. “But must, at a minimum, have education, medical care, irrigation and employment opportunities to be viable places to live. Only by equalizing the disparity between rural and urban opportunities can one stop the out-migration from villages to cities.”
READ India Pilot Project READ India plans to launch a pilot project during 2007. Under consideration are sites in Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and the region surrounding the Indian capital city of Delhi. The three-year goal is to develop 50 self-sustaining rural projects with libraries as the nexus for educational, economic and community development.
Heading up the READ India launch is international management and fundraising consultant Surat Sandhu, a long-time major general in the Indian Army and Former chief executive of India’s leading national charity, HelpAge India.
“The concept of building literacy through libraries is a unique, powerful and sustainable development tool,” noted Sandhu. “READ India is an effort to lead the way to transform our rural population.”
More about the READ Model The READ model for sustainable rural development addresses components critical to the prosperity of any community.
- Educational Development, accomplished through the construction of self- sustaining rural library community centers.
- Economic Development, accomplished through sustaining projects that support the libraries and provide needed infrastructure and jobs.
- Community Development, accomplished through improved communication channels, delivery of needed services and greater opportunities for individual and group empowerment.
READ does not solicit proposals from communities interested in a project. Rather the organization creates awareness of its program, encouraging rural villagers to submit proposal voluntarily to secure and “investment” from the outset. Once a community’s proposal is approved, the READ Country Program provides seed funding to design, build, furnish, and stock libraries, train librarians, and launch an income-generating enterprise in each community to help pay for the library and other community needs over the long-term.
Host communities are involved in all stages of planning and implementation and are responsible for contributing 15-to-20 percent of the start-up costs. A READ system of Standards and Best Practices drive the performance of all involved.
The community-run income-generating projects are paramount to READ’s success. These community businesses have included a furniture factory, printing press, stationery store, grain mill, fishpond, as well as ambulances, rickshaw service, storefront rentals, telephone, and x-ray services. Often the projects have raised considerably more than library operations require and have funded additional community development projects, such as childcare centers, health clinics, and literacy centers.
The Roots of READ READ was founded by Dr. Antonia Neubauer in 1991 as the nonprofit arm of her cultural travel company, Myths and Mountains. Since opening its first library in a remote Himalayan village, the organization has been dedicated to replicating a model for sustainable rural development. In Nepal, READ has partnered with 41 villages to build self-supporting libraries that have transformed once-impoverished populations into cohesive, self-reliant communities.