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Poverty And Literacy Writer Comes To Mamaroneck

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – John Wood, founder of the global non-profit, Room to Read, will speak about his new book, "Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy," Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Emelin Theater in Mamaroneck.

His book, which went on sale Monday, discusses the importance of gender equality in education in the developing world and the difficulties of scaling up a social impact organization.

"We're very much about the message that we are part of a bigger world and that education is a game-changer," said Carine Verschueren, Larchmont resident and co-founder of the Westchester chapter of Room to Read. "The way out of poverty, here as well but more so in the developing world, and the pillars of what we do are literacy – teaching kids to read at the elementary school level, and keeping girls in school."

Room to Read’s belief that “World Change Starts with Educated Children” has resonated with local teen students, about 20 of whom are expected to volunteer with the Westchester Chapter of Room to Read to host the event with Wood. Jasmine Rodrigo and Evie Clapp, a junior and senior respectively at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, are organizing a school bake sale to raise funds for Room to Read, which they will present to Wood at the event.

"There's a lot of awareness-building and fundraising here through our chapter," Verschueren said. "We try to involve students heavily in this because children need to be informed about and a part of domestic and international causes."

Wood started the organization 12 years ago, and to date, it has opened more than 1,600 schools and over 15,000 libraries, distributed more than 12 million books, including more than 850 self-published original local language titles, and supported more than 20,000 girls to succeed in secondary school and beyond in Africa and Asia. John describes his efforts thus far as “total tip of the iceberg” and aspires to reach 10 million children by 2015.

A former Microsoft marketing executive, Wood left the company in 1999 to devote himself to something bigger than his corporate life. He documented his decision and the creation of Room to Read in his memoir, "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World."

In his new book, he tackles the organization’s next steps – the challenges of managing expansion while maintaining integrity, of raising money in a collapsing economy, of promoting gender equality through scholarships for girls, and of changing the mission to include not just building libraries but also publishing books for children who literally have no books in their native language and training thousands of teachers and librarians.

“An Evening with John Wood” begins at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28. The Emelin Theater is located at 153 Library Lane. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased in advance online.

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