Meet Courtney: a high school junior donating her Sweet 16 Birthday to PoP

Pencils of Promise
August 18, 2015

A year before reading Adam Braun’s book, Courtney Smith worked with other students in her grade to bring a female student from Afghanistan to the United States so that she could receive a proper education without fear of the Taliban. Courtney’s mother is a teacher and from a very young age, her parents instilled in her that “education is a gift and the foundation for success.”

With that value always top of mind, after reading Adam’s book Courtney immediately knew that Pencils of Promise was something she wanted to make a part of her story.

“Getting to know [the Afghani student] and seeing the incredible impact education can have on one’s life inspired me to become involved with PoP in the fight to end the global education crisis … A child who has been educated has the confidence and the skills necessary to change their life for the better.”

Around the time she discovered PoP, Courtney was beginning to think about her upcoming 16th birthday and what she could do to celebrate that would be different, yet meaningful.

“Reading about all of the incredible people who decided to fundraise for PoP made me realize that this was exactly what I wanted to do for my birthday. Instead of gifts, I asked family and friends to make a donation to my fundraising page in honor of my birthday.”

Along with donating her Sweet 16, Courtney also began working with an organization dedicated to empowering women through service and education; she spoke to young girls about PoP and the importance of education in the life of every child.

Courtney speaking about PoP and her mission to help educate every child at a non-profit dedicated to empowering young girls through service and education.

Courtney is currently more than halfway to her goal — she has raised $13,080 thus far — and will continue trying to reach $25K through small fundraisers like babysitting and planning an event at SoulCycle in her town.

“My parents have always told me that I can do whatever I set my mind to and they have always supported my dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem. I believe that there is no dream ‘too big’ and that anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is only stopping you from reaching your full potential,” Courtney said.

The top of Courtney’s campaign page reads: “Ordinary people, extraordinary change.” But Courtney’s passion for education is so much more than ordinary — it’s truly inspiring — and we’re thrilled to have such an incredible young role model serving as a PoP advocate.


Our PoP family is always growing. We’d love for you to join us.

Visit Courtney’s campaign page here.