|Founder||David Risher, Colin McElwee|
|Africa, Asia, South America|
|David Risher, Colin McElwee|
Since 2010, over 13.3 million people across 62 countries have read from Worldreader's digital library of thousands of e-books. Worldreader works with device manufacturers, local and international publishers, government agencies, education officials, and local communities to support readers.
Early Childhood Development
Worldreader work with parents and caregivers in Delhi, India and have so far reached 200,000 families with a free digital library via their mobile phone and community reading programs. They also work with parents and caregivers in Jordan and have so far reached 50,000 vulnerable families with a library of digital books in Arabic and English.
Reading in Schools and Libraries
The nonprofit partners with schools and libraries to deliver digital books to students and library patrons. The organization provides technical and pedagogical training for local project managers and teachers and e-reader repair training for local businesses. They also manage logistics and support in partnership with local governments, school systems, and related businesses.
For schools or libraries without access to electricity, the non-profit has a solar product, called BB17, that gives schools and libraries the ability to charge and use e-readers.
As of December 2019, the non-profit has distributed digital books to 552 schools and 154 libraries across 17 sub-Saharan African countries.
Mobile Phones as Digital Libraries
The Worldreader app provides worldwide access to books, educational resources and health information to people with mobile phones. The non-profit launched Worldreader Open Library in April 2012.
As of December 2019, the Worldreader app had 12.7 million readers worldwide, largely due to its partnership with Opera Software, which promotes the mobile app on the Opera Mini browser in 34 African countries. The app is also available on Microsoft Windows Store, in Mozilla's Firefox Marketplace and Google's Play Store.
In March of 2020, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization launched an initiative called Keep Children Reading, and added free COVID-19-specific content to its phone-based BookSmart application.
Worldreader is organized as a 501c3 charitable organization in the United States, and has received a Guidestar Transparency Seal. Its U.S. Board of Directors consists of: David Risher (president), Peter Spiro (chair), Charles Brighton, Chris Capossela, Elizabeth Dollar, Kate James, Elizabeth Khuri Chandler, Colin McElwee, Lisa Nitze, Kartik Raghavan, Dana Reid, and Alison Rich. In Spain, the organization operates as a registered non-profit foundation validated by the Ministry of Education with the registration number 1361.
Co-founders David Risher and Colin McElwee lead the organization from San Francisco, California and Barcelona, Spain. A mix of private social investors, corporate sponsors, and government agencies including USAID funds the organization.
The organization conducts monitoring and evaluation for impact assessment, develops reading focused out-of-classroom activities and teacher workshops by working with communities and partner organizations. Its research shows that students in the e-reader programs improved 94% in mother tongue oral reading fluency after 5 months, and girls in the e-reader programs improved twice as fast in oral reading fluency as girls in neighboring schools, closing an existing gender gap. The Worldreader iREAD 2 project was funded by an All Children Reading grant from USAID, World Vision and AusAid, aimed to improve early grade reading skills for students in Ghana. The project's final report, in November 2014, showed significant improvements in oral reading fluency, reading comprehension gains, significant impact among low-performing students and development of positive reading habits. Worldreader has shown that reading from the Worldreader Open Library is particularly popular with women, who spend on average 207 minutes reading per month, compared to 32 minutes for men.
Project LEAP, a pilot program implemented by Worldreader in partnership with eight public and community libraries in western Kenya, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examined the use of e-readers in selected libraries to determine how e-readers affect library patronage, communities, staff, policies and procedures. The primary impacts included a threefold increase in library visits, from 10,442 to 29,023 patrons per month, 254 library-initiated community events and 84% of patrons reported increased reading.
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