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UPenn’s Wharton School Awards $100,000 Social Impact Prize to Rural Education and Development Program in South Asia

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania awarded its second annual Barry & Marie Lipman Family Prize last week to an international non-profit dedicated to creating lasting change in rural South Asia by providing education, enterprise and community development through libraries, the school announced.

READ (Rural Education and Development) Global was chosen from more than 115 organizations worldwide to receive the Lipman Family Prize, a $100,000 annual award established last year to recognize initiatives that help create sustainable solutions for social and economic challenges.

READ is based on the idea that a critical component of alleviating global poverty involves empowering rural communities. To do so, READ partners with rural villages in Bhutan, India and Nepal to build community library and resource centers that provide educational and economic opportunities to impoverished villagers. For-profit enterprises are paired with the READ Centers to generate revenue that can support the center over time. To date, there are 67 READ Centers supported by 98 for-profit enterprises – providing access to 1.95 million rural villagers.

READ Global and two other finalist organizations – d.light design, a for-profit social enterprise designed to improve life for those without access to reliable power, and MCI, a not-for-profit development organization seeking to promote what they call “contagious health” to change how deadly diseases are prevented and managed worldwide – will all benefit from unprecedented opportunities to collaborate with Penn and Wharton, including as part of student case work and site visits, executive education opportunities and alumni networking.

“This is the beginning of a long partnership with READ Global, d.light design and MCI as new members of the Wharton and Penn community,” Wharton Dean Thomas S. Robertson said in a statement. “The possibilities of these cross-sector collaborations are powerful and we look forward to our ongoing role in fostering sustainable new solutions for the advancement of society as a whole.”

Learn more about READ Global and this year’s other Lipman Prize finalists.

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