Visionaries Series: Pencils of Promise

Founder Adam Braun is proving the power of the pencil in his mission to educate children around the world.

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We think the world is great and all, but, let's be honest, it could also use some serious changing. We admire the innovators who blend business with philanthropy, and, in so doing, change the game for their industries as well as millions of people in need around the world. In this series, inspired by the great work of our friends at Warby Parker, we attempt to see the world through the eyes of some of those leaders. Should their stories not be incentive enough to do your own part this season, let it be noted: Studies have shown that giving back can boost your immunity, lower your risk of heart attack and release endorphins. Not too shabby. Check back weekly to be inspired by more of our favorite Visionaries.

How Pencils of Promise betters the world:
Pencils of Promise builds schools, programs and global communities around the common cause of education for all. In four years we will break ground on 100 schools across Africa, Latin America and Asia. We believe every child deserves access to quality education, and will continue to work until we see that become a reality.

How he was driven to start an organization that enacts change:
Years ago, while traveling through the developing world, I asked a young boy begging on the streets what he wanted most in the world, and he told me "A pencil." It illuminated the plight of millions of children around the world, who lack access to even the most basic elements of a life-changing education. PoP started by buliding schools, now we're also training teachers and educating parents, students and entire communities on the value of educating their children. It started with one child requesting a pencil, and that pencil still serves as a motivating tool for us every day.

One story of someone impacted by Pencils of Promise:
While recently visiting Guatemala, we came upon a community named Guadalupana. The community had no school, so the children held hands and crossed a six-lane highway every day to get to one nearby. A man had recently been struck by a truck and killed while making that crossing. One of our spokespeople, Sophia Bush was there and vowed to raise $30,000 for her 30th birthday to build them three classrooms. She more than doubled that total, raising almost $70,000 and we're now building them a brand new school that will not only change lives, but also save them.

The most significant thing you've learned through your work:
That the single most powerful thing in the world is an inspired, empowered human being.