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adam braun pencils of promise

Adam Braun-Pencils of Promise

Adam Braun, the founder of for-purpose organization Pencils of Promise (PoP), is not just a very inspiring person. He’s much more. Adam brought his beautiful vision into reality. He created something that many would consider as unrealistic or impossible.

I heard about him a year ago and just finished reading his book “The Promise of a Pencil” in which he describes his unbelievable story of a backpacker who had a dream, at the age of 25, to educate children all around the world. He took a Semester at Sea where he and his classmates visited many countries while sailing on a boat for 6 months.

He asked kids what do they want the most and one answer changed the direction of his life for good. One boy wanted just a pencil. It was so inconceivable for the kid to have a tool which enables him to draw and write yet so normal for us.

Adam couldn’t get this boy out of his head. Later on, after facing high waves, Adam almost died and promised himself to bring meaning into his life by building schools for those poor kids who need our help the most.

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A pencil – a promise for a better future through education

While many keep daydreaming and just talking about changing the world, he decided to take action. At that time, he was working at Bain yet started working to carry out his vision of how to build the first school in Laos.

When vision greater than you drive you, the universe supports you. So, it was Adam’s case. People excited and committed to helping him take off the ground his vision was appearing in his life. Even though the journey wasn’t always straight and easy, Adam and his colleagues built 266 schools in Laos, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Ghana since 2008.

Adam made PoP transparent so each donor can choose the country or area to which the money goes. Moreover, Adam started emailing the contributors pictures of built schools so donors can better connect with PoP vision and see the results.

Adam also changed the organizational culture. His colleagues were making lists of favorite music to be played, writing two thank you notes once a month. This way, more meaning, and interconnection were infused into their work, so they created even greater synergy.


Synergy creates miracles. We cannot bear the weight of the world on our shoulders alone. The question shouldn’t be what can I get but how can I contribute so someone could feel more loved, secure and happy.


Instead of taking the energy inward, we expand and influence by pure intentions the world. The goodness is the remedy for all problems. Reaching out and contribute. Who am I not to contribute when it lies within my power?

I recommend reading Adam’s book. Many parts made me cry and think more about how I can contribute myself. Each chapter is devoted to one mantra, thought that he learned on his journey from a young backpacker, through consulting at Bain, to building 266 schools on three continents.

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