Thursday, March 3, 2011

Points of Presence

Travelling the world as a college student, Adam Braun got into the habit of asking children he met: “If you could have any one thing, what would you want most?” A small boy begging on the streets of India impacted him deeply with his answer: A pencil. Braun: “I reached into my backpack, handed him my pencil, and watched as a wave of possibility washed over him.”

That powerful emotional moment gave birth to a movement. Driven to action Braun founded Pencils of Promise (PoP), a non-profit dedicated to building schools and creating educational opportunities in the developing world. Two years on, PoP has built more than 20 schools, and won support from luminaries including from Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and pop icon Justin Bieber.

PoP is a many-to-many phenomenon. Most of its donations are small sums – $15-20 contributed by passionate individuals who connect with PoP’s raison d’√™tre. So far it has raised $1 million by sharing a powerful vision about the difference an education can make not just for an individual, but for a community.

Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, the saying goes. Create an emotional moment that captures the hearts of people who believe in the power of education, and you transform the hopes of a generation.