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Pencils of Promise: Nonprofit Spotlight

You’ll never look at a #2 pencil the same way again…

When a small boy’s answer to “What do you want most in the world?” was a mere pencil, the future founder of Pencils of Promise (PoP) was utterly touched.

For Pencils of Promise, something as simple as a yellow #2 has now come to represent the need to unlock the potential in children that lack a suitable learning environment.

Across the world, 250 million children of elementary school age lack basic reading, writing, and math skills.

Unsafe, unsanitary, and ill-equipped classrooms serve as hurdles for both teachers and students.

Enter Pencils of Promise (PoP).

What is Pencils of Promise?

Pencils of Promise is a nonprofit that helps build schools and bring solid educational programming to areas in need like developing countries. The organization is also known as PoP.


Adam Braun Pencils of Promise founder
Adam Braun: Pencils of Promise founder

Adam Braun is the Founder and CEO of the nonprofit, Pencils of Promise.

As a student at Brown University, Braun thought he was on his way to a career of Wall Street prestige—until his travels led him to that struggling young boy in India.

This life-defining moment sparked Braun’s backpacking trip across 50 countries.

How did he spend his time, you ask? He handed out thousands of pencils.

Met with enthusiasm and relief by children, parents, and teachers, Adam decided it was his mission to make a big splash in global education.

Within 5 years of that first pencil, he founded the Pencils of Promise nonprofit organization.

Project Examples

1. School Builds

PoP partners with the communities they serve to build schools from the ground up. This means sand, gravel, and everything that comes after, with ongoing support to ensure the longevity of each school.

“We believe every child should have access to quality education.”

Pencils of Promise
These kids are on their way to their brand new PoP School. Source: Nick Onken
These kids are on their way to their brand new PoP School. Source: Nick Onken

2. Teacher Support

A school doesn’t stop at four walls. When you donate to Pencils of Promise, you ensure student success by providing essential resources to teachers, including:

  • Workshops that connect them to other educators.
  • Coaching sessions to support them in between workshops.
  • Classroom resources like projectors, e-readers and video content to bring daily lessons to life.

3. Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

To make sure students are able to benefit from their programs, PoP also implements the internationally recognized WASH program, which promotes healthy water, sanitation, and hygiene practices.

Impact and Future Plans

Giving Assistant shoppers have contributed over $53,300 to PoP.

Since 2009, PoP’s efforts have led to increased literacy rates, improved training and support for teachers, and better access to quality education for children residing in some of the most underserved communities in countries where the organization is active.

Today, PoP has a strong presence in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos.

So far, nearly 36,000 students have been served by 380 PoP schools, impacting 300,000+ lives in their local communities.

With 85% of communities that PoP visits lacking basic school infrastructure, the organization strives to break ground on a new school every 5 days.

In Guatemala, 98% of teachers report increased focus on students learning in a new PoP building.

Amongst many achievements in 2016, PoP delivered tablets to three schools in Guatemala, marking their “first-ever expansion of digital reading content in Spanish,” as well as expanded WASH programming to 20 more schools in Laos.

To date, PoP has received $53,337+ from Giving Assistant shoppers, who use their everyday online purchases to fuel the education of children around the world.

“We love finding new and easy ways for people to support Pencils of Promise,” “Giving Assistant is simple and fun, and they’re already almost halfway to funding a full school build with PoP!”

Natalie Ebel, PoP’s Director of Marketing

It costs $35,000 to build a school.

Since 100% of online donations that PoP receives goes towards their programs, Giving Assistant shoppers are on track to break ground on a new one soon.

Thanks to PoP, these girls have the chance to enjoy learning in a safe, new school. Source: Nick Onken
Thanks to PoP, these girls have the chance to enjoy learning in a safe, new school. Source: Nick Onken

How to Donate to Pencils of Promise

  1. First, sign up for a Giving Assistant account.
  2. Select Pencils of Promise on your Giving Assistant account settings menu.
  3. Choose how much of your balance from cash-back rewards you’d like to donate.
  4. The next time you shop using Giving Assistant and earn cash back you’ll automatically donate your set percentage to Pencils of Promise.

Giving Assistant members interested in donating to Pencils of Promise can choose just a portion (or all!) of their cash back earnings to go to Pencils of Promise.

If you need more help then you can see how to use Giving Assistant to shop online and donate to a nonprofit here.

If you haven’t already you can also download the Giving Assistant button cash back extension for your desktop browser.

Get the Giving Assistant browser extension

With your contributions through Giving Assistant, you will not only make an impact on the lives of children, but also entire communities.

This will help you to start easily support the Pencils of Promise nonprofit AND save money on your everyday online purchases at thousands of online retailers.

Not a member yet? Sign up here to start supporting Pencils of Promise as you shop online.

If you’d like to learn more about supporting global education, visit pencilsofpromise.org.