Room to Read: 10,000,000 Books & Growing
A few years back, I annoyed just about everybody in our newsroom by winning our March Madness annual NCAA pool with my pick of the Florida Gators to take it all. Unlike beisbol, where I can bore anyone to death with my OCD knowledge of the game, I know absolutely nothing about basketball except that I'm pretty sure the Knicks have sucked for several years. My picks were pretty much based on the schools that my brother or I had attended (but the University of California Santa Cruz and its banana slugs were not an option, so my choices were heavily skewed by Minnesota and my brother's Nevada and UCLA adventures).
To say I gloated was an understatement. LTN board member Andy Adkins, then at the University of Florida's Legal Technology Institute, sent me a blue and orange Gator's victory hat, which is proudly displayed among my ridiculously large collection of Yankees post-season and opening day caps.
The bounty was not insignificant -- around $500 -- but as much as I would have liked to use it to buy more Bronx treasures, I figured there was a much better way to spread my good Karma -- and use the entry fees contributed by my peers that constituted the victory purse. Our CEO/president Bill Pollak, who is now chair of Pro Bono Net's Board of Directors, had turned me onto John Wood's 2007 amazing book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, which chronicled the efforts of the ex-Microsoft senior marketer who left Redmond to bring schools and books to youngsters in remote areas, including Nepal and Vietnam. The program especially focuses on educating girls, recognizing that if you educate a girl, you educate a family. Our March Madness money went to Wood's San Francisco-based charity, Room to Read.
Room to Read has just announced that it has reached an amazing milestone: They have distributed 20 million books, with the presentation of the latest in Tiang Giang Province, Vietnam. The program has published 154 children's books in 18 languages, has established 1,900+ libraries, and supported more than 12,000 girls seeking secondary education.
So if you are looking for some worthy recipients for last-minute 2011 charity donations, bring out the checkbook. Timing is everything: two supporters have promised to match all gifts made by Dec. 31 (up to $700,000) which makes your donation even more sweet.
For donation info, click here.
Image: Room to Read
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