The Nonprofit That Uses Scavenger Hunts to Test Life Skills

Room to Read is a nonprofit that has been largely focused on global literacy since it’s inception. But since the year 2000, they have also developed a strong focus on girls’ education in countries like India, Cambodia, and Zambia.

They operate programs in nine countries around the world, and they’ve come to realize that life skills such as negotiation, self-confidence, and persistence are important for girls who might have to struggle to keep their education going. To that end, they’ve developed a study to test their students for those skills.

The study is actually built around a three-day scavenger hunt. The idea is that, by having each girl get at least 10 of 30 listed items, they can gauge where she falls on a number of these skills. Getting a toe-ring, for example, illustrates negotiation and trustworthiness, because for women in some parts of India, toe-rings are the equivalent of a wedding band.

It’s a novel way of doing things. But by choosing items that wouldn’t be too easy or hard to find, they think they’ve struck on a system that will inform them about what level these girls are at in these critical life skills.

Self-reporting by answering questions doesn’t always give an accurate accounting of something as ephemeral as self-confidence, especially in girls aged 11-13 who don’t necessarily have the life experience to gauge that. But by assigning tasks that use the skills in question, they can more accurately measure those skills by looking at the end result.

The study involved 2,500 girls at 60 schools. The study will be repeated again in 2018 in order to build off the baseline data collected in 2016. Hopefully, it works as expected and becomes a tool that Room to Read can use to help instill these skills in their students. Maybe it will even allow the girls to continue their education after they age out of the nonprofit’s programs.


James Patterson Donates Funds to Increase Literacy

James Patterson
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In recent interviews, acclaimed author James Patterson has announced that he will be donating $1 million to independent bookstores throughout the next year. Patterson’s desire to support independent booksellers stems from his aspiration to increase nationwide literacy, with a particular focus on getting children excited about reading. Increasing childhood literacy is something that personally resonates with the author, who spent years trying to get his young son to enjoy reading, knowing that it would impact the quality of his life as he grew older.

This isn’t the first time Patterson has supported literature-based organizations by donating funds out of his own pocket, and it certainly won’t be the last. According to Melanie Grayce West for the Washington Post, the author “is serious about getting kids to read and he’s made it a cornerstone of his philanthropy.” Patterson, who can now add children’s literature to his list of mastered genres, is a book-centric activist who wants others to recognize that the importance of literacy rivals other pressing issues that face children today.

In addition to his promise of donating $1 million to independent bookstores around the country, Patterson hopes to spark an entire campaign that will promote literacy for children. Over the years, the author has been active in this cause by starting academic scholarships and donating millions of dollars to programs that promote education and reading. This year alone Patterson has awarded $1.5 million in scholarships to students earning teaching degrees, the Washington Post reports. He also regularly funds book stipends, and hosts essay competitions that have awarded aspiring teachers and students thousands of dollars. The author pays for all of these programs out-of-pocket.

“For a lot of kids in this country, if they don’t become competent readers, they are going to find it impossible to get through high school,” Patterson has said. Donating funds to independent bookshops is his newest strategy to support and promote nationwide literacy. It’s philanthropists like Patterson who are helping to better the lives of children, which for the author, stems from encouraging a love of reading.