NEW YORK – (BUSINESS WIRE) – Room to Read, a global education nonprofit creating a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality, held its annual New York Gala last night at Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room. The evening, under the theme “Education Equals,” brought the business, entertainment and media industries together to raise transformational investments which will benefit 115,000 children affected by the ongoing education crisis, exacerbated by learning loss due to pandemic-related school closures, through Room to Read’s programs that support literacy and girls’ education.
In her keynote remarks, Dr. Geetha Murali, Room to Read CEO said, “Our goal this evening is to celebrate the sheer joy of being together again after such a long time apart, to reconnect with each other and recommit to our mission. (Our supporters are) the reason (Room to Read) not only survived the last two years, but thrived in the face of unprecedented challenges, making sure education endured for millions of children, along with the hope and opportunity it brings. ”
Room to Read recognized Lilly Singh, actor, producer, best-selling author and creator; Tatcha, the luxury skincare brand; and IMC, a global technology-driven trading firm, as honorees for their ongoing support of education equality. Headliner Flo Rida performed for guests, as well as a cappella group Penn Masala. Guests were treated to a surprise step performance by members of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity®, who performed a routine that displayed vocalization, content and unity with a reading-based message emphasizing memorization, accuracy and precision. Reuben A. Shelton III, the Grand Polemarch was in attendance to represent Kappa Alpha Psi’s ® partnership to inspire a love of reading among children in the US
Singh was presented with the Superhero Award for her commitment to girls’ education. As a longstanding supporter of Room to Read, Singh previously traveled to India to meet a cohort of young women supported by the organization’s Girls’ Education Program. In 2021, she donated winnings from an appearance on “The Price is Right at Night” to support Room to Read’s programs.
Of the gender gap in education, Singh said, “We all have a role to play when it comes to advancing education and gender equity. Gender inequality in all of its devastating forms is an issue that is deeply personal to me. I’ve spent my life and career trying to prove that being assigned a female at birth shouldn’t be seen as a disadvantage. When I look into the faces of the girls I’ve met with Room to Read I want them to understand their worth and their possibilities. That journey starts with education. ”
Tatcha co-founders Vicky Tsai and Brad Murray accepted the Champion Award for the significant influence of the company’s Beautiful Faces, Beautiful Futures fund. Since 2014, Tatcha’s partnership with Room to Read has provided more than 6.8 million school days for teenage girls in Asia and Africa and funded the development and distribution of more than 70,000 children’s books for underserved children in the US.
Of Tatcha’s philanthropic commitment to Room to Read during the company’s founding years when she was also a new mother, Tsai said, “Going back to the promise I made to my unborn daughter, girls’ education is the perfect way to help reverse the beauty industry’s perpetuation of the idea that our inherent value as girls and women depends on the world’s perception of our appearance. ”
Tsai also highlighted that 61 percent of U.S. families who are experiencing poverty do not have children’s books in the home and addressed the lack of diverse representation in the U.S. children’s book publishing industry. Tsai noted this prompted Tatcha’s investment in Room to Read’s US work saying, “Representation is a critical part of knitting our society back together and making things safer for everybody’s children, of every color and ethnicity. One of Room to Read’s more audacious goals is to eradicate childhood illiteracy in our lifetime. There has never been a better time to be audacious, impatient, and action oriented. ”
IMC was presented with a Champion Award for its large-scale support of Room to Read’s Literacy Program in Africa. As a Room to Read partner since 2016, IMC’s commitment to education has helped facilitate literacy instruction for more than 2.2 million children. In addition, IMC has helped support more than 550 schools in Tanzania and South Africa. Lisa Wiersma, Executive Director of IMC Chicago’s Charitable Foundation, accepted the award.
“IMC and Room to Read share a commitment to extending opportunities for individuals to learn and grow to their fullest potential. We believe that building fundamental literacy skills through quality education is essential in making a difference in a child’s future. IMC is honored to be recognized this evening and celebrate the fantastic work of Room to Read, ”said Lisa Wiersma, Executive Director of IMC Chicago’s Charitable Foundation.
The event was hosted by Room to Read’s North America Regional Board and Room to Read’s Global Board of Directors was also in attendance. Speakers included Sara Eisen, anchor of CNBC’s “Closing Bell”; Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube; Juvenalius Kuruletera, Room to Read Tanzania Country Director; Sonny Kalsi, Co-CEO of BentallGreenOak; and Yusuf Alireza, CEO and CIO, ARP Global Capital Limited.
Red carpet and photos from inside the event are available here.
About Room to Read
Founded in 2000 on the belief that World Change Starts with Educated Children®, Room to Read is creating a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality. We are achieving this goal by helping children in historically low-income communities develop literacy skills and a habit of reading, and by supporting girls as they build skills to succeed in school and negotiate key life decisions. We collaborate with governments and other partner organizations to deliver positive outcomes for children at scale. Room to Read has benefited more than 32 million children and has worked in 21 countries and 49,000 communities, providing additional support through remote solutions that facilitate learning beyond the classroom. Room to Read aims to benefit 40 million children by 2025. Learn more at www.roomtoread.org