The Gift of Education

The Gift of Education
At Panda we believe the pursuit of knowledge is a human right and that access to education is an essential foundation for thriving communities. That's why we pay forward a portion of each sale from the Panda Watch collection to Pencils of Promise, which brings educational opportunities to underserved communities around the world.

It Started With A Pencil

In October 2008 Pencils of Promise was set into motion, and it all began with a single question. Founder Adam Braun was backpacking across the globe when he asked a small boy begging on the streets of India one simple question: "What do you want most in the world?"

"A pencil," he replied.

Traveling to more than fifty additional countries, Braun handed out thousands of writing utensils spanning six continents. These pencils served as small pieces of potential, and led to powerful conversations with local children and their parents across countless cultures and languages.

From these conversations it became clear there was an incredible need for a different kind of global education initiative. One led by on-the-ground local staff from within each country, that prioritized ongoing support, training, and metric tracking for each student to ensure their success. Pencils of Promise was born, with the mission to create schools, programs and global communities around the common goal of education for all.

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More Than A Non-Profit: Education For A Higher Purpose

An innovative for-purpose organization, Pencils of Promise chooses not to embrace the term "non-profit." Instead, they have coined the term "for-purpose" to refer to the blending of non-profit idealism with for-profit business acumen. Driven by results on the ground, they believe accurate metrics are key for any successful organization looking to make a sustainable, lasting impact.

The commitment shows. Pencils of Promise rigorously measures the return on investment of every donor dollar spent, and they pledge that 100% of every online dollar donated goes directly into their programs to educate more children. The organization also boasts a 100% success rate; thus far every school opened is fully operational and educating students daily.

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Pencils of Promise focuses primarily on three main approaches to improving global educational outcomes: building schools, training teachers, and addressing the impact of poor sanitation. Simple and direct in its methods, the results of PoP's work are effective in laying the groundwork for systems that can ultimately be managed by the empowered local community.

Building Educational Foundations For A Brighter, Healthier Future

Perhaps the most important component of an effective education system is a safe place to learn. Pencils of Promise found that 85% of the communities they visited lacked basic school infrastructure. Working with deeply committed partner communities who contribute 20% to the build through labor and materials, PoP has constructed more than 400 schools educating almost 75,000 students.

It's not enough to just build a simple schoolroom, however. Students miss 272 million days of school due to preventable illness. To combat this issue, all schools are built with bathrooms and handwash stations so students have access to safe and clean facilities. Students are also taught the importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene, with changes in behavior tracked regularly.

Erecting the physical structure is just the first step; well-trained and well-supported educators are essential to a thriving educational system. Taking a collaborative approach, the PoP staff works alongside each community to train and empower locals. Pencils of Promise offers interactive coaching and workshops, and creates engaging learning materials and supplemental programming to offset lack of sufficient resources.

WearPanda is proud to donate to Pencils of Promise

The impact is tangible. Students in their programs score 3x higher on language literacy tests than their peers, and 90% of teachers report increased student engagement due to PoP curricula.

In many cases the students are the first members of their families to complete their studies, but thanks to Pencils of Promise, they won't be the last. Future generations in the region will have access to the education they deserve, as each school PoP builds becomes a foundational institution in the local community.

Header image based on Colored pencils by Kain Kalju, which is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


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