Hello from New York. We’re currently in the city for a round of meetings, including one today with Pencils of Promise. The education-focused nonprofit is a Charity Charge favorite and the perfect subject for our first post in a series of charity spotlights and profiles.
Founded by Adam Braun in 2008, Pencils of Promise (PoP) is a nonprofit “for purpose” organization whose mission is to give children in the developing world access to quality education. PoP provides resources worldwide to build schools and provide educational programming for children. According to the organization’s website, PoP has built 304 schools since 2009, provided 1,047 scholarships since 2012, and served 31,240 students in its schools. It was recently announced that Michael Dougherty will be taking over as CEO, Braun will still serve as the Founder of the organization while also serving as the Director of the Global Education Platform, an initiative of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education.
While in college, Braun had the opportunity to participate in the Semester at Sea program where he traveled to many countries around the world. In every country Braun asked the children what they would want if they could have anything in the world, to which one boy in India replied “a pencil.” This moment changed Braun’s life and inspired him to create Pencils of Promise.
After graduating from Brown University in 2006, Braun started his career on Wall Street before moving on to work for Bain & Company. Using his background in finance, he decided to run this nonprofit organization, or as he calls it a “for purpose” organization, with a focus on business efficiency and accountability, meshing for-profit business practices with a nonprofit mission driven approach.
“I’d seen so many ineffective organizations that I became obsessed with bringing top-notch business acumen into the humanitarian sector,” Braun said in an interview with Forbes.
Launching his business with a $25 deposit in the bank to being named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2012, to bringing in over $5 million of donations in 2013, are just some measures of the organization’s success. As a testament to PoP’s success, many celebrities are supporting the organization. For example, in 2011, Justin Bieber donated part of the proceeds from his Someday fragrance to PoP, and in Oct. 2013, the celebrity helped to build a PoP school in Guatemala.
In addition to building schools, providing scholarships, and supporting teachers, PoP also educates children on water, sanitation, and hygiene to decrease instances of preventable illnesses in order to improve school attendance. PoP is also looking to bring technology to its classrooms. According to an Oct. 2014 article in Fortune Magazine, Microsoft approached the organization about a partnership to provide tablet computers to PoP schools, which are already in use in classrooms in Ghana.
If you are interested in getting involved, Pencils of Promise has Leadership Councils to advocate and fundraise through various events in New York City, Dallas; Washington, D.C., and Chicago, although they want to expand to other cities.
For more information, check out pencilsofpromise.org.