Meet the Founder

Watch Adam’s Google Zeitgeist talk.

Adam’s Story


It began with a question. A small boy begging in the streets of India. “What do you want most in the world?”

“A pencil,” he replied.

I reached into my backpack, handed him my pencil, and watched as a wave of possibility washed over him.

A smile erupted and his eyes brightened. And I saw then the profound power and promise brought through something as small as a giving a pencil to just one child. Over the next five years, I backpacked through more than 50 countries, handing out thousands of pens and pencils across six continents. These pencils, these small pieces of potential, led to powerful conversations with local parents and children across countless cultures and languages. From years of listening to their words, it became clear that there was a need for an international nonprofit that was led on-the-ground by a staff of locals from within each country, required village participation in each school, and deeply supported, trained and tracked each student to ensure their success. These are the guidelines on which PoP was founded in October 2008 in hopes of building just one school by creating a movement of people who saw themselves as global citizens, regardless of age or status.

Since starting with just a $25 deposit, we have now built more than 200 schools.

In the process, we have learned a lot. We’ve learned that education is a living, breathing entity that with the right nurturing, evolves into something spectacular. We’ve learned that every piece of its growth is a challenge and that each pencil, each dollar, each volunteer is essential. Pencils of Promise is now a global movement of passionate individuals, many of which are the most dynamic and impactful leaders we have ever seen. They are committed to supporting a world with greater educational opportunity for all. Thousands have joined us, making contributions through acts both large and small.

We fundamentally believe that a day will come in our lifetimes when every single child will have access to a quality education, and we will continue to work tirelessly in breaking down the restraints of today to enable the possibilities of tomorrow.

Our Results

Since Adam founded Pencils of Promise in 2008, our schools have served over 20,000 students.

SEE WHAT WE'VE DONE