Adam Braun is the young founder of Pencils of Promise, an organization of dedicated millennials teaming with rural communities in Asia and South America to co-produce and maintain new schools.
“A huge challenge is actually bringing the work that happens in remote, rural villages to life for people that will rarely be able to ever step foot in the places where we work.”
While backpacking through the mountains of Guatemala, Adam Braun was invited into the home of a poor farmer who wanted Adam to help him with his English pronunciation, in exchange for food and a place to stay. Each night, Adam would read chapters from the Bible, the only book the farmer owned, into a tape recorder, which the farmer could then listen to over and over again to teach himself and his children how to read and speak English. The experience of mutual empowerment and engagement, rather than charity, had a profound impact on Adam as he went on to build the now-renown organization Pencils of Promise.
Dedicated to building and maintaining new schools on the tenets of need, sustainability, cost efficiency, impact, and commitment, Pencils of Promise engages with communities and their governments educational departments to forge on-going commitments on both sides. Ten to twenty percent of the build costs, usually materials and labor, come from within the community, the rest come from Adam and his team's tireless fundraising efforts. "A huge challenge is actually bringing the work that happens in remote, rural villages to life for people that will rarely be able to ever step foot in the places where we work." Adam says. "If every single person was to visit the villages in which we worked, I have no doubt that our organization would be exponentially larger and have an even more dedicated collection of supporters."
Founded in 2008, the initial goal was to build one new school using this model. To date, the spirit of Pencils of Promise has manifested in the building of over 50 schools in Laos, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, and over 2.8 million education hours delivered. At just 28 years old, Adam also created this initiative as a way to empower fellow millennials to undertake projects with this impact and at this scale, and he takes great pride in his teams on the ground who bring these schools to life. "I'm continually amazed by people's inherent commitment and interest in making the world better."