Czech multimillionaire Martin Roman and his wife decided to donate most of their estimated $30 million fortune to charity during their lifetimes because “no child is happy because he/she inherits a lot of money.” When the 42-year old businessman learned that Czech students scored below average in reading skills and comprehension, he got the idea to start Čtení pomáhá (Reading Helps), a unique project that not only motivates children and young adults to read, but also involves them in charitable giving.
Since the project began in April, over 45,000 youth – ages 6 to 18 - have registered with the Reading Helps site, where they choose from over 200 books which have been divided into age-appropriate reading lists. Once a student has read a book, they log on to the site and answer questions about it. If they can answer correctly, they earn a 50 koruna ($2.80) credit.
Students can then donate these credits to various causes, which have included purchasing wheelchairs and training assistance dogs for disabled children, equipment for an assisted-living house for the elderly inCzechoslovakia, or funding eye surgery for an African teenage boy. Mr. Roman has pledged to donate 10 million koruna (over half a million dollars) every year for the life of the project.
Many thanks to Andy (esteemed colleague and past Off the Shelf contributor) for passing on this inspiring story!
~ Olivia (Reader’s Services)