We have so much in common: brown straight hair, a girlish voice, and now – Pencils of Promise. Yes, just like me, Justin “Love Me” Bieber recently announced his support of this incredibly dynamic young cause, devoted to building schools for some of the 75 million children around the world who have no access to education. Bieber is donating $1 of every concert ticket sale to build 100 schools in the developing world in the next two years, and though I’m not a contributor on quite the same level, I sure do share the love.
Started in 2008 by Brown graduate and inveterate world traveler Adam Braun, Pencils of Promise was founded to build a single school in Laos, one of my favorite countries on the planet. The people of Laos are lovely, Buddhist, gentle and achingly poor. Apparently Braun felt the same connection as I did to Laos, and decided to do something about it. Starting with $25, he had a plan to work alongside a village community to create a school that the families of the village would build and maintain themselves.
He reached out to friends and fellow optimists and before you could say facebook and twitter, Braun had created a movement that now has 10 completed school projects in both Laos & Nicaragua, 3 more schools in the works, and 7 on the boards. Pencils of Promise has energized 60,000 international supporters, is planning concerts and Multi-City Event Challenges to raise funds, and most importantly, has built a really smart, effective organization to create sustainable change.
Before a school is planned, PoP folks do their due diligence, scouting hundreds of villages to determine which are the most committed, able, and prepared to support a school. The Education Ministry approves the site and confirms a trained teacher will be sent. Then a Promise Committee of 8 villagers (4 men, 4 women) oversee and commit to supporting the school through all its phases, and the village raises 10-20% of construction and materials funds. All materials are locally sourced, the school is built with village labor, and after the school opens, a local high-potential young adult is named PoP Village Coordinator, to monitor performance and to deliver SHINE (Sanitation, Hygiene, Identity, Nutrition & Environment) training to foster long-term community wide practices that support the health of the whole village.
Pencils of Promise is smart, holistic, inclusive, locally-powered– and it’s putting pencils in the hands of the children who, with the gift of education, will be empowered to make their mark on the world. I’m not a big fan of celebrity-driven charities, but I am a huge fan of education … and PoP is making it happen for people in desperate need.
My $100 today goes to Pencils of Promise for its thoughtful, creative and galvanizing passion! To join me (and Justin), click here: