Of course, I love to come across a good story, and since I do what I do here, you know I like to share those good stories, too. Gone Reading International has a very good story.
Founded by Brad and Eileen Wirz almost one year ago, Gone Reading International, LLC is fueled by the belief that when people have open access to great reading materials, life always changes for the better. Their mission statement puts it like this:
“We envision a world where everyone has the opportunity to better themselves through the open pursuit of the dreams and ideals of their choosing. We envision a world where such opportunity exists for everyone, regardless of their country of origin or locale. Our mission is to bring the world closer to this vision by helping to ensure that everyone has open access to the reading materials they want and need.”
Brad Wirz’s eyes were opened during a volunteer trip to Central America in 2010, where he worked with a group of Americans to help build a library in the Honduran jungle:
”Hundreds of villages, thousands of people, had basically no access to books or reading materials at all. That just blew my mind.”
After returning home, Wirz began thinking about what he could do to help address this access problem:
”I found that there are some great organizations already doing this work, building libraries, helping people help themselves by providing access to books, reading materials, and literacy training. Unfortunately, these organizations are woefully underfunded.
“As a huge book-lover myself, I instinctively read several books to develop my plan. I knew I didn’t bring anything to the library-building process itself. But after a few months of reading, thinking and planning, I determined that I could use my marketing background to generate streams of cash for these organizations.”
Wirz knew he didn’t want to start a traditional charity:
”I didn’t see the point in simply asking people to donate money. But as I sat in the local mall one day, in the midst of a global financial meltdown nonetheless, it occurred to me that people were still buying lots and lots of stuff. I had read that about 100 million adults in the U.S. identify reading as their #1 hobby. These people are spending money every day, buying the things they want and need.”
That’s when Wirz decided to build a for-profit “lifestyle brand” for readers, but donating 100% of the after-tax profits to organizations that specialize in building libraries across the developing world. GoneReading‘s online store features competitively-priced reading accessories like bookmarks, book journals, and book lights (for e-readers and print books), as well as reading-themed t-shirts and cute, colorful bookends that would enhance any kid’s shelves. (And standard U.S. shipping is free!)
GoneReading’s profits support non-profits such as READ Global and Ethiopia Reads, organizations with established models and experience partnering with local villages and communities in the most underdeveloped parts of the world to effect real change, building libraries and educational-resource centers to serve children and adults.
“Shopping for a cause” isn’t exactly new, and neither is GoneReading’s approach to it (it’s not unlike Newman’s Own, which is a pretty good model), but I think their particular cause is worth supporting.
To that end, I’m excited to offer a special coupon code for readers of The 3 R’s Blog:
The coupon expires on March 31st, and is good for 25% off of any purchases at www.GoneReading.com except for those cute bookends. I hope you’ll go forth and shop! Personally, I could use one of those book lights…
Disclosure: I was contacted by Gone Reading International and asked to help spread the word about its mission, which I learned about via its website. In return, I was offered a coupon code to share with my readers, and no monetary compensation.