Philanthropy and Charitable Giving At Work : Room To Read

Aqua Expeditions Partners with Room to Read in Vietnam and Cambodia

Aqua Expeditions is extremely proud to announce our newest philanthropic adventure, a life-changing charitable giving partnership with Room to Read, a successful and internationally-recognized nonprofit organization focused on increasing global literacy and gender equality in education.


Michelle Obama called them "role models to the world"


Founded in 2000, Room to Read, a U.S. based organization, collaborates with local communities, partner organizations and governments around the world to ensure that primary school children can become independent readers and girls can complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions.


In 2016, Aqua Expeditions raised over $10,000 to fund a library at a local primary school, Vinh Dai, in Vietnam, providing a safe, child-friendly space where children can focus on learning.

Francesco Galli Zugaro, Founder and CEO of Aqua Expeditions describes his decision to choose Room to Read as a philanthropic partner:


Since launching Aqua Expeditions on the Peruvian Amazon nearly ten years ago, I have seen first hand the vital role of education in community healthcare and protection of the environment. Teaching people to read endows them with the skills to negotiate key life decisions and empowers them to conserve their most vital local resources. On the Amazon River, our Aqua Expeditions professional guides play an active role as educators in community healthcare, promoting clean water projects and in our cruise ships’ eco-system management. Our guests are vital to this success through their ongoing donations to our philanthropic programs at Aqua Expeditions.

When we set out to launch the Aqua Mekong, I began looking at how we could engage with the Mekong River communities in philanthropic and significant ways in Cambodia and Vietnam. I personally vetted several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to find the right match.

Meeting with Room to Read founder John Wood in Hong Kong recently, I was impressed to learn that Room to Read has been listed in Charity Navigator’s top 1 of rated charities in the US for 9 years among over 1.4 million non-profits rated by this charity watchdog. This metric and the organization’s impressive on the ground accomplishments, including over 15 million books distributed and 1,930 schools constructed since their inception, convinced me of the benefits associated with their program and should assure our Aqua Mekong guests that Room to Read donated funds go directly to the children and communities with whom they work in Cambodia and Vietnam.

I am convinced that our shared vision of change through education will make a meaningful impact on the Mekong, just as I am proud to say Aqua Expeditions has accomplished on the Amazon. And books are just the beginning. When John and I met, we agreed to think big together. Room to Read’s learning experts and the Aqua Mekong guides are laying the groundwork for a long-term partnership that can lead to great educational outcomes along our Aqua Mekong route.

Aqua Expeditions Partners with Room To Read in Vietnam & Cambodia


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This exciting mission at Aqua Expeditions is already underway at the company, with Room to Read leaders training Aqua Mekong guides to provide our guests with an on board introduction to education programs along our route. These Literacy Programs give rural Khmer and Vietnamese youth the opportunity to develop the skills and habit of reading. This will allow them to become life-long, independent thinkers and change-makers in their communities.




All funds will support Room to Reads Girls’ Education Program in Cambodia, helping girls in low-income communities to complete high school with skills to make key life decisions


Support a girl to learn to read and write for one year -- $50

Provide one year of professional training workshops on teaching reading and writing, as well as library management and activities so teachers can equip students with strong foundational skills in literacy fluency and comprehension.


Support a social mobilizer to mentor a girl for a year -- $75

Social mobilizers act as role models, advisors and advocates for girls in our program. In addition to serving as examples of educated, strong women in the community, our social mobilizers provide girls with emotional support and guidance to help them along their individual journeys


Support a year of life skills education for a girl in secondary school -- $150

Life skills are competencies — such as empathy, critical thinking and self-efficacy — that girls need to meet day-to-day challenges and make informed decisions. When girls learn these skills and how to apply them in their daily lives, they are better equipped to handle the challenges they may face, from gender bias to finding time to study. Our program gives girls the opportunity to learn and practice life skills through classes, workshops and extracurricular activities.


Help a girl to not only graduate secondary school, but also engage her entire community. Support her for a year on our full Girls’ Education Program –  $300

Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program gives girls at secondary school level the support they need to graduate secondary school and develop the skills they need to to negotiate key life decisions.  This includes material support, including bicycles for those that need them to get to school, as well as providing them with mentors, training on life skills, and ensuring their families and communities are engaged in their educational journey.

Find out more about our Room to Read partnership and join our efforts by donating online to Room to Read. 


Global Results 

  • 12.4M children benefitted from Room to Read’s programs since 2000.
  • More than 22M children book distributed including more than 1,400 original Room to Read titles, and donated English- and local-language books.
  • More Than 10,000 Teachers & Librarians Trained On Average Each Year In Literacy And Reading Best Practices.
  • More Than 55,000 Girls Supported By Room To Read’s Girls’ Education Program And 95% Either Remained In The Program Or Graduated From Secondary School In 2016.
  • More Than 4,700 Graduates From Secondary School Since The Start Of The Girls’ Education Program

Learn more…


Girls education


Learn more about Room to Read in Cambodia and Vietnam.


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