Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun appeared recently at Loyola University Chicago to discuss the use of social media in education.
Pencils of Promise’s mission is to educate underprivileged children in developing countries by building schools.
The inspiration behind Pencils of Promise came from Braun’s experience of backpacking around the world while he was in college, he told the Loyola audience.
“While backpacking around the world I decided to ask a child in every country,what do you want most in the world, while in India I asked a small boy begging on the streets and he said a pencil. I realized in this moment how profound education was,” Braun said.
Braun then started Pencils of Promise with $25 and a birthday party where he raised $8,000 in one night.
“I used my 25th birthday to put $25 into a bank account for PoP. I had a party where I asked my friends to bring $25 and 400 people showed. It raised $8,000 for PoP. I used that as an outlet to start this,” Braun said.
Annanya Dwivedi, 19, sophomore Advertising and Public Relations major at Loyola, said she particularly connected with Braun because of how he started.
“It’s inspiring to hear that Adam Braun was able build Pencils of Promise with just $25 and this one experience he had in India. It really motivates me to believe that I really can do something that can make an impact,” she said.
Over the next five years, Braun backpacked through more than 50 countries handing out thousands of pencils.
The interactions with children and their parents in these countries led to conversations that made clear the need for global education that was led by a nonprofit and a staff of on-the-ground locals.
“I met three girls in Laos and made them a promise, that they would be the first pre-school students at that school and that’s where the name Pencils of Promise came from. I made them this promise and I wanted to make it happen,” Braun said.
“It is so interesting that Adam had this goal and this vision and was able to make it happen. He took a model and expanded and made sure he did. That sort of dedication is inspiring. I love how he says PoP is not a nonprofit but a for-purpose,” said Madelyn Duncan, 22, senior Information Systems major at Loyola.
Ninety-nine more schools have been built since that first school in Laos.
PoP officially broke down on their 100th school this Tuesday. The progress so far has resulted in 4,500 children educated, 50,000 lives positively impacted by PoP programming, and 2,800,000 hours completed.
“The time is now to change global education because our lives should contain profit and purpose and this generation of people are so empowered and can empower the world,” said Braun.