Joel Runyon’s Impact with Pencils of Promise


Pencils of Promise couldn’t be more thrilled that Joel Runyon is part of our PoP Family. When Joel first joined the PoP Family, he was immediately ready to make a huge impact. A driven and determined entrepreneur, blogger and athlete, Joel recognized the potential of quality education and made it his personal mission to support education in communities that are in need of everyday resources like safe school structures.

After funding his first school with PoP in 2012, he was ready to do more. He decided to push his own physical limits and expand his global impact with PoP by creating the 777 Project. The 777 Project is a year-long adventure to run 7 ultramarathons on 7 continents in order to raise funds and awareness to build 7 schools with PoP. This project requires traveling to all 7 continents and racing on every terrain and climate ranging from desert heat to Antarctic temperatures to jungles and mountains, it covers the most challenging races on earth.

Joel, our Pencils of Promise team is grateful to join forces with such an inspiring individual and for all that you’re providing to our students and communities. Your generosity and motivation will impact thousands of students, and we thank you for partnering with us to make quality education possible for students who need it most.

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Impact Updates


Thanks to Joel’s support, the past few years have been very busy (and exciting!) — we’ve completed construction on seven schools throughout Ghana, Guatemala and Laos! One school, Caserio Pasín, Aldea Pacamache, has generously been donated from Joel to his dear friend Jesse Itzler and the #WeDoHardStuff group. We’re well on our way to serving thousands more students around the world.

An update from Amedzikope, Ghana…

Students of Amedzikope previously attended class in an old structure in danger of collapsing. Not only did this structure pose a danger to student safety and well-being, it hindered learning and growth. To address these conditions, PoP and the Amedzikope community have officially completed a new three-classroom block! The new Amedzikope RC Basic School will provide a safe and secure environment for students to reach their full potential and promise.

An update from Phon Hom, Laos…

Previously, students of Phon Hom experienced severe overcrowding, with insufficient classroom space to best serve the community. Due to these conditions, fourth grade students attended class in a community-built structure. Thanks to your support, PoP and the Phon Hom community have officially completed a new two-unit classroom block! The new Phon Hom Preschool and Primary School is providing sufficient space for all students to learn and thrive in class and beyond.

An update from Bagome, Ghana…

Previously, the primary grade students from Bagome learned in a pavilion built by the government. This structure had broken walls, no doors and no windows. Because there were no windows, the students were left exposed to the elements and disrupted by all types of weather conditions. First and second grade classes also experienced overcrowding in a makeshift pavilion structure. These conditions posed hazards to student engagement and learning, as well as student safety. Thanks to your support, PoP and the Bagome community have completed a new four-classroom school that has the capacity and structural conditions to safely house all of the primary students. The community members, parents and teachers were fully supportive of the build and contributed 20 percent of the labor and resources necessary. Your support will impact thousands of students throughout the lifetime of the school.

An update from Zomayi, Ghana…

Upon our team’s first visit to Zomayi, they found the 215 students learning under thatched tents built by the community. In addition to these structures, the fifth and sixth grade students were combined into one classroom. The classrooms were overcrowded and not structurally sound, posing both a safety hazard and a significant hindrance to student engagement. Through your support, PoP and the Zomayi community worked to construct a new three-unit classroom block. We officially broke ground in March 2018 and completed construction in September 2018, with an inauguration shortly thereafter. The community members are so excited to now have a quality learning environment for students to reach their full potential and promise!

An update from Aldea El Vergel, Guatemala…

Previously, the Aldea El Vergel school had one formal classroom and three provisional classrooms. The provisional classrooms had walls made out of wood and makeshift floors made out of dirt. Because of the structural aspects of these classrooms, the provisional classrooms were inherently dark, causing difficulty for both students and teachers. In addition to the poor structural conditions of these classrooms, there were over 50 students trying to squeeze into these classrooms. This overcrowding was posing a distraction to the students and teachers. Thanks to your support, PoP and the Aldea El Vergel community have completed construction on a new three-classroom school that now has the capacity to safely house all students. The community members, parents and teachers were fully supportive of the project, and contributed 20 percent of the labor and resources necessary to complete the build. Your support for this build now fosters an environment of educational growth and promise for the students of Aldea El Vergel.

An update from Caserio Pasín, Aldea Pacamache, Guatemala…

Built in partnership with Jesse Itzler & #WeDoHardStuff group

Previously, the Caserio Pasín, Aldea Pacamache school had three formal classrooms and two provisional classrooms. One of the provisional classrooms is made out of wood and has a dirt floor, while the other classroom has a wooden shed-like structure without walls. As a substitute for the walls, the community used nylon to try to protect the students while attending school. These conditions hindered student engagement, as well as posed a hazard to the safety of students. With your support, PoP and the Caserio Pasín, Aldea Pacamache community have officially completed two brand new classrooms that will abide by technical specifications set out by the Ministry of Education in Guatemala to benefit preprimary and first grade students. The students and community members are so excited to have a quality learning environment!

An update from Las Doncellas, Guatemala…

Prior to PoP’s partnership with Joel, the Las Doncellas school had three provisional classrooms. One was located in a hallway, one occupied a space that was originally created as a kitchen and the other was a wooden classroom previously constructed by the community. These conditions were not only extremely unsafe for students, they did not provide a positive learning environment. Your support has changed this—PoP and the Las Doncellas community worked tirelessly to complete construction on a new three-classroom school! The new formal classrooms have allowed the students to learn in a safe environment that can withstand the increased number of students. The official completion of the school was observed with an inauguration ceremony, celebrating the hard work of the community. The hundreds of students you’re impacting through the Las Doncellas school are so excited to finally have a school that helps them reach their full promise and potential.