Room to Read at UT uses fundraising campaign to promote children’s literacy, girls’ education

Tehreem Shahab

Room to Read at UT is hosting “Read Across UT” Week, a fundraising campaign composed of different events each day, until this Thursday to raise money for children’s literacy and girls’ education in the developing world.

The kickoff event was a bake sale on West Mall. The money raised by this campaign will be donated to the national Room to Read, based in California. The nonprofit spends its funds for building schools and libraries and creating safe spaces for girls to learn, primarily in Asia and Africa, said Sarah Syed, president of Room to Read at UT.

“In countries like India and Laos and all the countries Room to Read works in … the specific focus is on girls getting to secondary school,” said Syed, a biochemistry and Plan II senior. “By the time girls approach secondary school, a lot of their help is needed in the household or they need to help raise siblings. And even the girls that want to go to school are unable to.”

Besides using fundraising to promote the cause of children’s literacy and girl’s education in the developing world, Room to Read at UT has also partnered with a local literacy organization called BookSpring. Through the program, student volunteers read to preschoolers in underserved communities in Austin to promote the love for reading.

Sophia Syed, communication sciences and disorders junior, is a member of Room to Read at UT who volunteered to read to preschool children through BookSpring. She said she did not initially expect the preschoolers to be responsive.

“They (preschool children) learned a lot from our simple five-page books,” Syed said. “They were always participating really well with us. We thought it was going to be kind of awkward because they are really young, and we didn’t know if they would understand everything we were reading, but they understood everything, and it was really rewarding.”

Miranda Toy, events committee member for Room to Read at UT, said the cause for Room to Read is important to her because it is easy to forget that not everyone is fortunate enough to get an education.

“I went to an all-girls school here in Austin,” said Toy, Plan II and psychology sophomore. “So, I’ve kind of been surrounded by girls’ empowerment, and it has helped me a lot, and I know not everyone is this fortunate to get that experience.”