Room to Read Sri Lanka, along with Room to Read programs in seven other countries, will receive $75,000 during the next three years to help fund current projects. This funding builds on the nearly $20,000 given by INTO Giving to Room to Read Sri Lanka in the past two years.
Achala Gunasekara-Rockwell, Ph.D., INTO UAB’s Indian culture and language adviser, nominated Room to Read for an INTO Giving grant two years ago. INTO Giving supports education projects in developing countries in which $300 can keep a girl in school for a year.
INTO Giving will make three annual gifts of $25,000 to Room to Read programs in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Tanzania — changing the lives of more than 50,000 school-age girls.
“This year, we’re making the first of three big, strategic donations to Room to Read’s girls’ education programs across eight countries. INTO UAB started that,” said Chris Walker, director of INTO Giving. “There are hundreds — probably thousands — of girls who will benefit from this grant.”
The educational issues that children — young women especially — face in rural Sri Lanka are close to Gunasekara-Rockwell’s heart, because Sri Lanka is her homeland. She told the UAB Reporter in 2017 that less-fortunate families often will send their boys to school, but girls often are expected to remain home and care for the younger siblings.
INTO Giving supports education projects in developing countries, where just $300 can keep a girl in school for a year. This new gift will change the lives of more than 50,000 school-age girls.
The success of INTO Giving’s grants to Room to Read Sri Lanka inspired this year’s increased donation, said Gunasekara-Rockwell.
“INTO Giving has generously continued providing funds to what was conceived as a one-year project aimed at helping young girls in Sri Lanka stay in school,” Gunasekara-Rockwell said. “The success of that program prompted INTO Giving to provide funds beyond the original grant, expanding into other countries. Not only has this helped numerous children stay in school, but it has been an agent of cultural and social change, providing training on hygiene and sex education to communities with the aim of improving health and empowering today’s youth to make sound decisions for their future.”
Room to Read itself has benefited more than 11.6 million children in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia and Sri Lanka, and countless other nonprofits are trying to improve literacy in developing countries.
INTO UAB is an initiative begun in 2016 to increase the global diversity of UAB’s student body and expand global opportunities for its domestic students and faculty to pursue international teaching, research and service. David Hofmann, executive director of INTO UAB, said the Room to Read initiative mirrors the kind of community INTO UAB is building on campus.