Pencils of Promise http://pencilsofpromise.org We bring life-changing education to children living in poverty around the world. Sat, 22 Nov 2014 03:00:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Everyone has promise: PoP Gala 2014 http://pencilsofpromise.org/everyone-promise-pop-gala-2014-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=everyone-promise-pop-gala-2014-2 http://pencilsofpromise.org/everyone-promise-pop-gala-2014-2/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:38:12 +0000 http://pencilsofpromise.org/?p=39926 “From a Rwandan Dump to the Halls of Harvard.” This was the headline of an article featured on the front page of the October 23, 2014 issue of the New York Times. Published just a few hours after the most successful gala in Pencils of Promise history, the article – which describes how Justus Uwayesu, a Rwandan orphan formerly living in a garbage dump, was able to enroll in Harvard this past fall – epitomizes everything […]

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“From a Rwandan Dump to the Halls of Harvard.”

This was the headline of an article featured on the front page of the October 23, 2014 issue of the New York Times. Published just a few hours after the most successful gala in Pencils of Promise history, the article – which describes how Justus Uwayesu, a Rwandan orphan formerly living in a garbage dump, was able to enroll in Harvard this past fall – epitomizes everything that PoP represents in the countries we currently work in, Laos, Guatemala and Ghana. It would be an understatement to say that Uwayesu embodies the calling card of this organization: that everyone, no matter where you are born, has promise.

The fourth annual PoP gala celebrated the generosity and dedication of three of PoP’s most vocal and vital supporters, actress and activist Sophia Bush, CEO of VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk, and CMO of SB Projects, Brad Haugen. Hosted by PoP founder Adam Braun, the night featured a myriad of inspiring speeches – like that of PoP’s Ghana country director Freeman Gobah, who invited every guest to his home country to see the impact of their donations firsthand – and videos, including the debut of PoP’s new “Everyone Has Promise” video.

Vaynerchuk stressed that as an immigrant to the United States, it was pure circumstance and fortune that allowed him to rise to a place in life that he deemed “ridiculously lucky.” He emphasized that everyone in the room was in a position to make a difference, no matter how big or small, before handing off the microphone to auctioneer CK Swett, who jokingly encouraged attendees to finish their drinks and raise their extra large pencils high in the air for the live auction.

The first item to be auctioned off, a wine tasting with Vaynerchuk, made it clear that guests had indeed heeded Adam’s request in his opening speech. Just as an education can change the way in which a child views his or her future, Braun called upon gala attendees to alter their own perceptions of themselves – whatever their occupation, he encouraged everyone to become a philanthropist for the night. The wine tasting prize was ultimately split between three bidders for $30,000 each, setting the tone for the remainder of the auction, which included private lessons with a Dancing With the Stars professional, a Shania Twain VIP experience, an Elton John VIP experience, and an opportunity to meet Sophia Bush.

The final item (a surprise!) featured a spinning lesson from world-renown DJ Martin Garrix. The item was even more special because Garrix was actually a PoP gala attendee. During the bidding process, he spontaneously added to his original prize, offering another spinning lesson and VIP access at the exclusive nightclub Hakkasan in Las Vegas. Needless to say, Garrix’s smiling presence on stage helped make this one of the most popular items of the auction.

After all of the prize items were auctioned off, CK Swett led the crowd into the Fund-a-Need portion of the night, where guests were encouraged to donate at any level. Two individual $100,000 donations kicked off the fundraising, which in about ten minutes raised an additional half million dollars for PoP. This was an astonishing and incredibly exciting feat, and a true testament to the generosity of the 750 guests who filled the tables at Ciprani Wall Street.

In a fitting introduction to Brad’s closing speech, Adam remembered that five years ago he and Haugen had attended a PoP event at the same venue, but under very different circumstances. Half a decade ago, they were placed in a library off to the side of the building, and the event was attended by a grand total of nine PoP supporters. But that same night, Adam recalled, he and Brad had looked out at the enormous main hall together, and said that one day they were going to fill it – a dream that ultimately came to fruition at the 2014 gala.

Brad explained how merely hearing about Adam’s first build five years ago reignited his own passion for giving back, which propelled him to seek out ways to become involved with PoP. In his speech, Haugen read aloud his first email to Adam, where he requested to help build a school in any way possible. Now the chairman of the Board of Directors of an organization that has built over 250 schools, the standing ovation that Haugen received at the end of his speech was only fitting for someone who is endlessly driven towards bringing innovative and life-altering education to children all across the world.

At the PoP gala just one year ago, we honored Malala Yousafzai, who was recently named a 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Shot in the head for being an educational activist, Malala’s incredible life reveals that if given a chance, anyone is capable of receiving one of the most premiere prizes in the entire world. While education unquestionably provides the groundwork for transformative stories like that of Malala’s, or that of Justus Uwayesu’s, it is also transformative on a smaller – but equally effective and as important – scale.

Take Nuth, for example. At this year’s gala, Adam shared recent pictures of Nuth and referred to video he took of her years ago in which he professed that she would be PoP’s first student. Today, Nuth is in fourth grade and wants to be a doctor or a nurse, a career that would have been all but impossible, and also inconceivable for a four-year-old child in rural Laos who had never set foot in a school. Nuth is only one of the 30,000 children PoP has impacted thus far, just one representative of the fact that education is perhaps the most powerful tool to alter the course of a child’s life.

On October 22nd, 750 members of the PoP family gathered for a night of impact. Together, we raised over two million dollars to bring education to our students in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Everyone has promise, and as last night’s gala demonstrated, there are hundreds of people who believe that not to be overzealous jargon, but legitimate truth. PoP won’t stop until that conviction becomes reality, for we are committed to the principle that education is an inherent, inalienable and achievable right, for every one, everywhere.

 

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PoP & ESPEROS team up to send students back to school http://pencilsofpromise.org/pop-esperos-team-send-students-back-school/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pop-esperos-team-send-students-back-school http://pencilsofpromise.org/pop-esperos-team-send-students-back-school/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:47:10 +0000 http://pencilsofpromise.org/?p=39194 It’s that time of year again – school is back in session!  We are excited to be partnering up with ESPEROS bags for our Back to School campaign to provide 1,600 students in Ghana, Guatemala and Laos with the scholarships that they need to continue their education. With every scholarship, a student is provided with the tuition fees, school supplies, uniform, and sometimes housing and transportation fees, that they need to be successful. ESPEROS was started with the mission to provide children […]

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It’s that time of year again – school is back in session!  We are excited to be partnering up with ESPEROS bags for our Back to School campaign to provide 1,600 students in Ghana, Guatemala and Laos with the scholarships that they need to continue their education. With every scholarship, a student is provided with the tuition fees, school supplies, uniform, and sometimes housing and transportation fees, that they need to be successful.

ESPEROS was started with the mission to provide children throughout the world with access to quality education through the sale of premium products. With every online sale, a portion of proceeds is donated to help children in the developing world have access to the quality education that they so deserve.

About half of the students in our partner countries aren’t able to continue their education past primary school due to various reasons – the biggest being cost.

Together with the help of ESPEROS, we are trying to change that. Join us in unlocking the potential of students in Ghana, Guatemala and Laos this back to school season.

2014 Pencils of Promise Ghana 200th

 

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Will You Go to Prom with Us? http://pencilsofpromise.org/1800flowers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=1800flowers http://pencilsofpromise.org/1800flowers/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 18:04:02 +0000 http://pencilsofpromise.org/?p=36310 We’re so excited to partner with 1-800-FLOWERS again this prom season. Together we’re unlocking the promise of students who lack access to education. Like PoP, 1-800-FLOWERS knows how important teachers are, and how much they appreciate it when we acknowledge that. When you donate to our No.1 Teacher campaign, you’ll be entered for a chance to win two bouquets: one for yourself, and one to give to your favorite teacher. With the prom and graduation season […]

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We’re so excited to partner with 1-800-FLOWERS again this prom season. Together we’re unlocking the promise of students who lack access to education.

Like PoP, 1-800-FLOWERS knows how important teachers are, and how much they appreciate it when we acknowledge that. When you donate to our No.1 Teacher campaign, you’ll be entered for a chance to win two bouquets: one for yourself, and one to give to your favorite teacher.

With the prom and graduation season coming up, it’s a busy time for 1-800-FLOWERS. They have decided to share their success this season by donating 20% of the proceeds from the very special PoP Collection to support our programs.

Help us celebrate spring by making your next floral purchase at 1-800-FLOWERS. You’ll get a beautiful bouquet, and you’ll be making an impact that will change the lives of countless students.

SHOP NOW

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Every Mile Matters – PoP Fundraisers are Going the Distance http://pencilsofpromise.org/every-mile-matters-pop-fundraisers-are-going-the-distance/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=every-mile-matters-pop-fundraisers-are-going-the-distance http://pencilsofpromise.org/every-mile-matters-pop-fundraisers-are-going-the-distance/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 22:23:04 +0000 http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/?p=23485 2013 was an exciting year for PoP with many supporters choosing to run 5Ks, half-marathons, and full marathons to support our programs in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos. We’re blown away by the physical challenges our supporters are taking on to ensure quality access to education for children around the world. Our PoP Clubs are hosting runs as well as running themselves. We are so proud of our fast-footed friends and what they have been able to […]

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2013 was an exciting year for PoP with many supporters choosing to run 5Ks, half-marathons, and full marathons to support our programs in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos.

We’re blown away by the physical challenges our supporters are taking on to ensure quality access to education for children around the world.

Our PoP Clubs are hosting runs as well as running themselves. We are so proud of our fast-footed friends and what they have been able to accomplish. Our UCONN PoP club hosted their own Wobble, Gobble, and PoP: a Turkey Day inspired 5K trot as a major fundraiser.

Individuals like Katrina Garry, have worked so hard to prepare for a marathon to support PoP. She told me about her experience, “I finished my last big training run yesterday and ran 20 miles!! Education fuels every stride. I am so excited to get to Miami and run it for PoP.”

Even some of our newest members of the PoP Club family are joining the fun. The Penn State PoP Club is launching a fun run 5K this Spring. Our PoP Clubs are pounding the pavement with serious fundraising goals and achieving them every step of the way!

You can join in the fun today by using the Charity Miles app whenever you walk, run, or bike. PoP receives 10¢ per biked mile and 25¢ for every mile that’s walked/ran. In our first year, our Charity Miles runners earned $10,000 for PoP! We’d love to have you on the team.

 

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Campus updates from our PoP Clubs http://pencilsofpromise.org/campus-updates-from-our-pop-clubs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=campus-updates-from-our-pop-clubs http://pencilsofpromise.org/campus-updates-from-our-pop-clubs/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 20:09:26 +0000 http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/?p=23479 PoP Clubs are popping up all over the U.S. and all over the world! Our PoP family members are in elementary school all the way up to college. PoP Clubs are a great way for passionate supporters to step forward with their classmates, friends, and teachers to create an impact while having fun in their school. PoP Clubs all over are going above and beyond and leaving their legacies behind. Taylor Sission of the University of […]

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PoP Clubs are popping up all over the U.S. and all over the world! Our PoP family members are in elementary school all the way up to college. PoP Clubs are a great way for passionate supporters to step forward with their classmates, friends, and teachers to create an impact while having fun in their school. PoP Clubs all over are going above and beyond and leaving their legacies behind. Taylor Sission of the University of Connecticut has created a new project she’s calling the Global Education Project. Taylor explains the program:

“We will be traveling to local elementary schools and teaching the students the importance of education and the mission of Pencils of Promise, in child friendly language and concepts. It will be a one time visitation program for individual classrooms. I have found children’s books that teach lessons on both diversity and education, and have created activities for the children to do and take back home with them.” Taylor is a college student who believes that that there is no bad time to start passing on the PoP mission.

     Our friend George from the PoP Ashesi chapter in Ghana has also been dedicating 100% of himself to Pencils of Promise as this is his last semester in college. He is currently looking for a ready, willing, and able candidate to pass the torch to. “The goal for my last semester is to hand over PoP Ashesi to the younger years, to ensure sustainability, I have spoken to my team and we are willing to make PoP bigger than what it used to be.” Our PoP Clubs are united all over the world for one cause and that is to promote the right to education. We have heard from many clubs about their candy cane and pizza sales, their PoP Concerts and change collections. Some of our amazing clubs have even done fundraisers for tickets to Orlando Studios!

We’re so proud of the creative ways our PoP Clubs are finding to make an impact. What will you do next? Email clubs@pencilsofpromise.org with your updates.

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Run the 2014 NYC Marathon with Pencils of Promise http://pencilsofpromise.org/run-the-2014-nyc-marathon-with-pencils-of-promise/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=run-the-2014-nyc-marathon-with-pencils-of-promise http://pencilsofpromise.org/run-the-2014-nyc-marathon-with-pencils-of-promise/#comments Tue, 28 Jan 2014 18:41:26 +0000 http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/?p=23452 Pencils of Promise is participating in the New York Road Runners 2014 TCS New York City Marathon on November 2, 2014. The 26.2-mile journey through the five boroughs of New York City is one of the world’s most iconic races. Each member of the Pencils of Promise team will raise $5,000 towards building a new school in Ghana, Guatemala, or Laos. Contact Rachele at raidala@pencilsofpromise.org for more information. Limited entries available.

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Pencils of Promise is participating in the New York Road Runners 2014 TCS New York City Marathon on November 2, 2014. The 26.2-mile journey through the five boroughs of New York City is one of the world’s most iconic races.

Each member of the Pencils of Promise team will raise $5,000 towards building a new school in Ghana, Guatemala, or Laos. Contact Rachele at raidala@pencilsofpromise.org for more information. Limited entries available.

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Chegg is giving you the chance to #GiveBackandGo! http://pencilsofpromise.org/chegg-promisescholarships/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=chegg-promisescholarships http://pencilsofpromise.org/chegg-promisescholarships/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 16:37:53 +0000 http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/?p=23435 What’re you up to this summer? Want to intern for a week in the Pencils of Promise office and then visit Guatemala to see PoP’s work first-hand? We’re incredibly excited to announce that you have the chance to make this once in a lifetime internship opportunity come true! Chegg, our amazing partner has already matched your Back To School memories with donations toward scholarships for children around the world AND awarded five $1,000 Promise Scholarships to […]

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What’re you up to this summer? Want to intern for a week in the Pencils of Promise office and then visit Guatemala to see PoP’s work first-hand? We’re incredibly excited to announce that you have the chance to make this once in a lifetime internship opportunity come true!

Chegg, our amazing partner has already matched your Back To School memories with donations toward scholarships for children around the world AND awarded five $1,000 Promise Scholarships to students here in the US, is launching a contest to give 8 lucky college students the opportunity to intern with PoP this summer. Spend 5 days in our New York City office and then head to a small village in Guatemala for 4 days where you’ll experience first-hand the work PoP is doing in communities around the world.

Send a photo to Chegg and Pencils of Promise here showing us how you do good by February 17th. If you’re one of the 50 semi-finalists, you’ll record a 90 second video telling us why we should select you and from there we’ll pick our 8 PoP summer interns.

Buena suerte (good luck) to all. We hope to see you in the office this summer!

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Honoring the children of Sandy Hook the only way we know how. http://pencilsofpromise.org/honoring-the-children-of-sandy-hook/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=honoring-the-children-of-sandy-hook http://pencilsofpromise.org/honoring-the-children-of-sandy-hook/#comments Sat, 14 Dec 2013 17:46:22 +0000 http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/?p=23377 One year ago, we all watched with devastation as news flooded the media that a gunman had opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the days that followed, most of us felt confused, angry and helpless. A debate raged about the gun control laws in our nation, candlelight vigils were held, and support funds for the families of the young victims were gathered. A family friend of mine texted me the day […]

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One year ago, we all watched with devastation as news flooded the media that a gunman had opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the days that followed, most of us felt confused, angry and helpless. A debate raged about the gun control laws in our nation, candlelight vigils were held, and support funds for the families of the young victims were gathered.

A family friend of mine texted me the day after the shooting, and asked if we could build a school to honor the 20 beautiful children who passed away. Thus began the journey to honor the children of Sandy Hook in the only way that we now how at Pencils of Promise – by carrying their legacy forward for the generations of children ahead.

The Have-Glime Primary School in Ghana was built over the past year, and is now dedicated to the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School. May the light of their lives shine on.

 

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Run the 2014 NYC Half with Pencils of Promise http://pencilsofpromise.org/run-the-2014-nyc-half-with-pencils-of-promise/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=run-the-2014-nyc-half-with-pencils-of-promise http://pencilsofpromise.org/run-the-2014-nyc-half-with-pencils-of-promise/#comments Fri, 13 Dec 2013 20:50:13 +0000 http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/?p=23362 Pencils of Promise will be participating in the New York Road Runners Half-Marathon on Sunday, March 16, 2014. The NYC Half will take runners on a 13.1-mile tour of NYC. Participants will stop traffic in Manhattan, from Central Park through Times Square to downtown Manhattan. Join the Pencils of Promise 2014 NYC Half-Marathon team and run for education for all. Contact Rachele at raidala@pencilsofpromise.org for more information. Limited entries available.

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Pencils of Promise will be participating in the New York Road Runners Half-Marathon on Sunday, March 16, 2014. The NYC Half will take runners on a 13.1-mile tour of NYC. Participants will stop traffic in Manhattan, from Central Park through Times Square to downtown Manhattan. Join the Pencils of Promise 2014 NYC Half-Marathon team and run for education for all.

Contact Rachele at raidala@pencilsofpromise.org for more information. Limited entries available.

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Guest Blog: PoP Impossible One, Andrew Gray http://pencilsofpromise.org/guest-blog-pop-impossible-one-andrew-gray/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=guest-blog-pop-impossible-one-andrew-gray http://pencilsofpromise.org/guest-blog-pop-impossible-one-andrew-gray/#comments Tue, 03 Dec 2013 21:14:55 +0000 http://www.pencilsofpromise.org/?p=23316 Pencils of Promise Impossible Ones are passionate individuals who are committed to fundraising $25,000 to build a school by rallying the support of their communities. Below is a guest blog from longtime Pencils of Promise supporter and featured Impossible One,  Andrew Gray.  My story with Pencils of Promise began about four and a half years ago when I was a senior in high school. An alumna from my school returned to make a presentation before the student […]

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Pencils of Promise Impossible Ones are passionate individuals who are committed to fundraising $25,000 to build a school by rallying the support of their communities. Below is a guest blog from longtime Pencils of Promise supporter and featured Impossible One,  Andrew Gray. 

My story with Pencils of Promise began about four and a half years ago when I was a senior in high school. An alumna from my school returned to make a presentation before the student council for a class she was taking in college. Her presentation was on Pencils of Promise. I was instantly hooked on the premise and mission of the organization. As I prepared for college, I decided to start one of the first collegiate chapters for PoP at Oklahoma State University. Our chapter began in April 2011 and has since raised more than $6,500, grown to more than 200 supporters and volunteered countless hours in our local community. I even had an opportunity to give a TEDx talk at OSU to discuss my involvement in this life-changing organization.

I am currently on the same Semester at Sea (SAS) program that first sparked the idea of PoP in Adam’s mind. When I saw that we would be going to Ghana, I decided to try and see a PoP school. I worked for a full month to setup a trip for 30 SAS students, faculty, and dependent children to the Toklokpo and Agorhome schools in Ghana.

Pulling up in the bus my heart was racing and I knew it would be an unforgettable day. We hopped of the bus and immediately were swarmed by 250 Ghanaian students who were so happy to see us. We played with the kids, handed out some of the pencils PoP had provided us and even handed out toothbrushes from the NGO Global Grins. We then helped lay the foundation for a new school building in Toklokpo.

Then, we headed toward the Agorhome school where we interacted with the students and teachers and had a blast learning all about the dances and songs they sang, while also teaching them a few classics such as the hokey-pokey, the itsy-bitsy spider, and many more.

The smiles on the faces of both the students in the PoP schools and the SAS participants reinforced that what I was doing was impacting the world. Over the past four years, I have stayed up late into the night researching the global education crisis from PoP reports, UN reports, and anything else I could get my hands on. I planned and organized fundraisers and awareness campaigns for PoP. I did all of this because I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life working to improve access to education in the developing world.

Interacting and hearing stories from the students in Ghana gave me comfort in my work and my future. When I saw these students, sitting at their desks, in a school recently built because of work from volunteers and donors of PoP, I knew there were greater things at play than the math problem they were tackling. I knew that they had dreams they were working to fulfill: being the first in their family to finish primary school; earning a college education; lifting themselves out of the clutches of poverty; breaking the cycle of poverty for future generations; changing the world.

When I saw those students, I knew their future was waiting to be written in pencil.

See a video from Semester at Sea highlighting Andrew’s visit with PoP in Ghana here.

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