In 2010, READ Global was expanding to India and Bhutan. We had just established 46 sustainable, community-owned READ Centers in Nepal, and our goal was to build and sustain more in communities needing rural development support across South Asia. 10 years later, we are happy to report that there are now 112 READ Centers - more than double our goal. We also learned to effectively widen, deepen, and sustain impact through local collaboration. Today, READ Centers operate as information hubs and training platforms. Over 2.52 million people benefit from the Centers' key resources and programs, helping them with safe migration, youth development, women’s empowerment, access to technology, and livelihood skills, and other pressing challenges. It has truly been a decade filled with stories of sustainable success in different areas.+ READ MORE
READ Global's work has never been more relevant, critical, and urgent than it is today. With READ Global founder Toni Neubauer’s support, I (Tina) am now serving as a member of READ Global's Board of Directors, and I am thrilled to welcome and support our new Executive Director, Sanjana Shrestha, who officially began her new role on August 1, 2020. With Sanjana’s compassionate leadership and commitment to inclusivity, as especially seen during her time as READ Nepal’s Country Director, I am certain that READ Global remains in the best position to drive change into the next decade.
As we face challenges and fast track our communities into the digital age, we thank you for your unwavering support that will continue to champion and inspire rural prosperity across South Asia. As your new Executive Director, I (Sanjana) welcome the next decade of READ Global driving meaningful community engagement and sustained local expertise.
Always in service,
READ Global Executive Director
READ Global Executive Director
Together in Nepal: Tina Sciabica, Sanjana Shrestha, and Dr. Antonia “Toni” Neubauer
Where We Work
Our Community Partners
READ Global’s impact has deepened through decades of strong partnerships with various local, national, and international organizations to inspire rural prosperity and accomplish community-led transformation. We consider rural villagers our primary partners for social and economic change; our programs are implemented only after consultation with community members. They are active contributors to our impact, and their sense of ownership and investment in READ Centers puts us on a pathway to greater scale.
million people reached
“The joint efforts of READ Nepal and the Panauti READ Center have not only supported the educational and social sector, but helped the community prosper in the tourism and agricultural sector as well. We would like to express our immense gratitude and thanks for the support and trust of all the key players in the community.
Om Krishna Shrestha, Chairperson (Panauti READ Center partner since 2014)
"READ people have big hearts and are crazy enough to think they can change the world to a better place. And best of all — they actually do!"
Helen Hansen, General Secretary of the Norwegian Amateur Theater Association (READ Nepal Donor since 2014)
“With READ's support, I was able to get out of a dangerous situation with migration. Now, working with READ, I am empowered to talk about my migration story and advise youth and their parents to be informed and cautious about the choices and decisions they make in choosing their career abroad.”
Tshering (in pink, left), participant of READ Center Bhutan (READ Center member since 2016)
rural villages served
“READ India and Global leadership have always supported me to go beyond the box and explore my capabilities as a professional. Due to that support, I am able to actively give valuable contributions to almost all areas of READ India's functioning. READ has supported me through a lot of mentoring and capacity-building trainings at the national and global level. READ has a very professional and nurturing working culture.”
Smita Anand Rai, Director of Partnerships and Resource Mobilization, READ India (2006–present)
READ Centers built
“READ’s goals deeply resonate with me. I started off as a Field Officer in 2010, and am now the Country Manager. We establish strong partnerships with local communities and implement need-based programs that drive genuine impact through strong community engagement. At the end of the day, I go home satisfied and excited about the work I do, and my colleagues all appreciate and support the effort we put in.”
Kezang Choden, Country Manager, READ Bhutan (2010)
sustaining enterprises launched
Over 1 million people across Nepal, India, and Bhutan have participated in READ Global’s programs in the past decade, gaining life-changing skills to earn an income and contribute to building a successful future. By providing access to transformative trainings and programs that are relevant to a community’s context and needs, READ Centers become the nexus for social change and rural prosperity.
Read on to learn more about our specialized trainings and the change-making women behind our stories of success.
From 2010 to 2020, READ Centers' programs and trainings have empowered
Total People Trained
“When the Panauti READ Center opened, I got involved right away and I feel very proud as now I am known by my own name. Before, I was known by the name of my father or my husband. I did not have my own identity. Now, I am delighted to be known by my own name.”
Participant, READ Center Nepal, Member until 2018
READ’s Key to Sustainability: Local Leadership
READ Centers and their programs are community-led, designed to reflect the culture, interests, and values of each rural village. To ensure their sustainability, READ helps the Centers build their capacity in accessing resources and crafting strategies so that they can run independently after READ’s direct involvement is completed. Over the years, READ Centers have put up for-profit enterprises to generate income and sustain their operations, including a community radio in Syangja District in Nepal, a tractor rental business in Ura village in Bhutan, and a sewing and apparel business in Rajasthan, India.
In 2018, IREX conducted a case study of the READ model in Nepal to better understand how READ Centers produce sustained positive impact, and found that the READ model increases the following:
The study suggested that the key to community capacity, development, and sustainability is the cultivation of an inclusive community leadership, allowing for a holistic space that builds bonds among community members, and gives them a platform to improve their lives.
Why Local Office Independence is a Priority
Rather than implementing a one-size-fits-all model, READ works closely with each community to understand their particular needs and assets. From initially being dependent on READ Global to support costs, independent offices are also empowered to raise their own funds which provides them with a greater sense of ownership and responsibility over a Center’s and, eventually, a community’s success.
“The meaningful interactions at various Centers have provided strong evidence of the amazing impact READ is having on many communities. Truly inspiring to meet women who have grasped an opportunity and transformed their lives. Also reminds me to be grateful because in many parts of the world, if you are female, it’s still an uphill battle.”
Singapore American School (SAS) parent, READ supporter since 2015
READ Global’s proven and replicable model is that of responsiveness, flexibility, and resilience. As with previous crises, READ Centers once again demonstrated effective local leadership as key to sustained impact. READ Global’s vision — to create safe places to access education and information, with an eye toward empowering communities to drive their prosperity — is a foundation that has helped communities build resilience to emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever.
As trusted community institutions, READ Centers quickly adapted to meet the new challenges posed by COVID-19. While most READ Centers closed their physical premises temporarily to help slow the spread of the virus, Centers are relying on longstanding partnerships, networks, and trusted relationships to continue to serve their communities during the pandemic.
Masks provided to those in need
People reached through COVID-19 information drive
Food rations distributed
Participants in remote trainings
People received health services and assistance, immunizations, prenatal care, and mental health sessions
Cumulative across offices as of July 2020
“Our whole family joined READ activities, and I can see a change in my children now, especially my daughters. They have become strong. It is important that we educate our daughters, so that they can stand on their own feet and be independent.”
Om Prakash (second from right)
Participant of READ Center India, Member since 2014
READ’s work is possible through support from a vast network of trusted and impactful technical partners and donors across South Asia and beyond. Thanks to their generosity, READ Global is empowering the very communities that are leading the way to rural prosperity.
“Community-owned and managed, READ Centers are allowing rural villagers to gain literacy skills, access important health information, and improve livelihoods. We are thrilled to partner with an organization that is changing lives and transforming entire communities.”
Deborah Jacobs (right)
Director of Global Libraries, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2011–2017 READ Partner
Over the past decade, READ Global and READ communities have been recognized for their commitment to creating inclusive, sustainable, and equitable impact. We are honored and grateful for the accolades and support we received from various award-giving bodies, thought leaders, and organizations.
“READ Bhutan came up with a Center here (in Panbang) and it was one of the biggest gifts for the community. I think in the near future, every community should have their own one READ Center. That will definitely help to build our country in the future.”
Kinley Dorji (middle)
Chairperson of READ Center Management Committee, Panbang, Bhutan, READ Partner since 2017
The READ Global Team and Board have decades of experience amplifying the voices of rural communities in South Asia, and partnering with local organizations and leaders to bring about lasting social change.
In Nepal, India, and Bhutan, our Country Directors lead the charge of rural transformation in the local context through READ’s Country Offices, with the partnership of community members and organizations.
READ Global started its journey and immersion with local communities in Nepal in 1991, and Bhutan and India in 2010. Since then, we have learned profound lessons on how we work to empower and encourage communities to discover innovative solutions to local challenges.
To drive our vision forward into this new decade, READ holds two important considerations: inclusion and elevating local expertise. We value thoroughly inclusive, resilient, and more equitable processes and programs to develop prosperous communities. Meaningful community engagement is the crux of our work — without it, no development can be achieved. We also value and uphold local knowledge within and across our network of READ Centers and READ Country Offices. We believe that local communities know best what their needs are, and with their actions they pave the way to their development. With these guiding considerations, READ Global commits to the following priorities for our work:
“READ has always presented itself as a supporter of the community instead of its donor. By being a supporter, READ is able to prioritize the needs of the people and empower them to own the work of developing programs to fulfill the actual needs of the community – deepening the impact.”
Arjun Maharjan, Senior ICT and Program Coordinator, READ Nepal (2008-present)
Continue to encourage and strengthen community leadership to foster sustainability and drive local development.
Ensure deep community engagement, inclusion, and diversity in every aspect of our work. We will strive to create opportunities to support different ethnic and cultural groups while respecting their differences and appreciating their strengths.
Nurture grassroots innovations to encourage solutions that approach local problem-solving and build more cohesive and inclusive societies.
Build new levels of flexibility into our development partnership so that we can respond to the rapidly changing nature of crisis and the evolving needs of our partners.
Strengthen our partnership with our Country Affiliates and local READ Centers, exploring how we can support each other and build a cohesive READ Community, scale our work, and create more positive impact.
Maintain an evidence-based monitoring and evaluation strategy and streamline processes for program design, monitoring, and management to ensure responsiveness to emerging needs.
The past decade has given us success stories of exceptional communities and partners striving to promote inclusive, equitable, and sustainable futures. What READ was, what READ is now, and what READ strives to become is the result of deep and serious collaboration with our rural partners. These communities continue to be our guides and shine bright lights, helping us in our mission to end poverty for some of the world’s most remote places. As we head to a new decade, we invite you to join us as we continue to learn from these communities, sustain and evolve the success we have achieved, and advance toward our vision of a more prosperous future across the region.