Room-to-Read: Lessons Learned in Taking Literacy Global


Erin-ganju (4) Erin Keown Ganju shared her passion with 1,300+ TEDxBerkeley attendees this past weekend, including five key lessons she has learned about not just engaging the world (theme of this year’s event) but making a difference in the emerging world with literacy acceleration.

She shared her own journey with Room to Read, which seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education.

Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments, they develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.

She quoted Nelson Mendela as a reinforcement to how critical education is, particularly in the developing world: Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.

She shared her five lessons learned in being involved in expanding Room to Read around the world. Founded in 1998, in seven years, they had donated their millionth book!

Lesson One: find an idea that canges the world. The key to develoing solutions is an educated population.

Lesson Two: Turn an idea into reality. She told stories about changing the way people ‘think’ about education in rural areas of India, Sri Lanka, Zambia — what it will mean for them if they embrace education and learn to read.

Lesson Three: Learn From Setbacks and Take Risks. She told a story about Lao and breaking through rules and regulations to get a program set up in that country.

Lesson Four: Take it to scale. They have now established 11,000 libraries which has now outnumbered the number of Starbucks and McDonalds. They have impacted over 5 million children and there are over 53 countries around the world which are raising money for educate children and promote reading.

Lesson Five: Remain open to refining the vision.

Renee Blodgett
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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