Reading for Life Overview
Reading for Life is the name of our flagship literacy program in Guatemala. Through Reading for Life, we help more than 9,500 children in over 50 villages improve their lives through education. Each year, we help hundreds of teachers in remote villages more effectively teach children to read. We deliver tens of thousands of children’s books to neglected schools and libraries. We create and improve community libraries and train librarians to be promoters of reading in their villages. We provide scholarships, fund schools for children living in poverty, and support educational programs for indigenous girls. We also provide training, materials and support to local organizations that are working to improve educational opportunity for children.
Reading for Life is effective because it is multifaceted. It is sustainable because we invest in local people. It is empowering because it gives children the greatest resource they can possess to lift themselves from poverty: literacy.
Time and time again, education and the ability to read well have proven the best way to improve a child’s earning potential. In Guatemala, where most indigenous families struggle to put food on the table, every year of school a child completes represents an estimated 13 percent increase in their future annual income. Education improves maternal, child and family health. It slows the spread of HIV/AIDS, decreases violent crime and improves the overall economic health of communities. We know of no other approach to alleviating poverty that has an impact this broad and long-lasting.
Guatemala has the lowest literacy rate in all of Latin America. More than 50 percent of the region’s indigenous children never make it through primary school, and only 24 percent finish middle school. Fewer than one in ten finish high school. In the regions where we work, over 75 percent of women cannot read or write. By focusing on a single country where the need is great and where we can offer a program that is specialized and effective, we can have a real and lasting impact. (Read more about Guatemala here.)