Educational Institutions

Pencils of Promise, Inc.

Pencils of Promise believes where you start in life shouldn't dictate where you finish.

New York, NY   |  www.pencilsofpromise.org

Mission

Pencils of Promise (“PoP") is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that believes every child deserves access to quality education.  We create schools, programs and global communities around the common goal of education for all.

Ruling year info

2009

Chief Executive Officer

Tanya Ramos

Founder

Adam Braun

Main address

1115 Broadway Suite 1157

New York, NY 10010 USA

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EIN

26-3618722

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Primary/Elementary Schools (B24)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Pencils of Promise believes that where you start in life shouldn't determine where you finish. We can create a better world through education.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

School Builds

Part of our mission is devoted to building schools and improving the overall infrastructure for educational facilities in the countries we work. We currently operate in Laos, Ghana and Guatemala and since our founding, we have completed over 460 school across all our geographies.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

To best judge how effective our impact is, we closely monitor and evaluate our programs on the ground. PoP supports its  already existing structures by continually visiting each community, checking in on the schools and ensuring that all structures and students were well equipped.  We have local M&E teams who conduct interviews and surveys with community leaders, teachers, students and parents. This helps us understand the needs of communities in which we operate, our impact on the community, and areas in which we can improve PoP operations and programming.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

We build student and teacher sanitation facilities (sinks and bathrooms) in conjunction with our classroom builds. In addition, our staff visit classes twice per month during the school year to teach lessons related to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH).

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified
Adults

We support teacher development through in-service and workshop training sessions. Our staff visit government teachers in our communities twice per month to aid in lesson planning, methodology training and rapport building with students. Teachers attend workshops for group training and network building.

We use a methodology of teaching that focuses on the engagement of the student because more engaged students perform at a higher level. We do this through an expressive pedagogy, which involves usage of facial expressions, motor memory (song, dance, sign, etc.) and creative didactic materials.

Included in our teacher program is the use of technology to enhance student test scores, engagement and teaching practices overall. In Ghana, 26 of our communities are supplied with e-readers on a one-to-one model in the classroom that contain over 100 books in English and the local language. In Guatemala, we will be piloting the use of e-readers in the classroom in 3 communities by the Fall of 2016

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified
General/Unspecified

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Charity Navigator -- Three Star Rating 2020

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Schools receiving WASH programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth (0-19 years)

Related Program

WASH

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

PoP WASH programs include hand washing stations, latrines, WASH clubs, WASH workshops, in-school engagements and water filters.

Latrines built, cumulative

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth (0-19 years)

Related Program

WASH

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Number of latrines/toilets provided at a school depend on size of student enrollment, though all facilities include at least one designated for girls, one designated for boys, and one for teachers.

Schools receiving Teacher Support

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth (0-19 years)

Related Program

Teacher Support

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

PoP's Teacher Support program includes multiple workshops throughout the year and in-school one-on-one coaching sessions twice per month.

Digital reading tablets delivered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth (0-19 years)

Related Program

Teacher Support

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

PoP distributes e-readers, loaded with hundreds of age appropriate and culturally relevant books, in Ghana and Guatemala as a component of the Teacher Support program.

Percentage of 4th grade students reading a passage at 45 words per minute

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth (0-19 years)

Related Program

Teacher Support

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

4th grade students in Ghana attending PoP schools with Teacher Support consistently outperform students in schools not receiving Teacher Support.

Percentage of 6th grade students getting at least 80% of reading comprehension questions correct

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth (0-19 years)

Related Program

Teacher Support

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

6th graders in PoP schools with Teacher Support consistently outperform students in schools without Teacher Support.

Students impacted by PoP Teacher Support

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth (0-19 years)

Related Program

Teacher Support

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Number of students being taught by a teacher who is enrolled in the PoP Teacher Support program.

Number of schools built

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth (0-19 years)

Related Program

School Builds

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

PoP celebrated 10 years of supporting communities and providing a quality education with breaking ground on the 500th school in late 2018.

Number of children who have access to education

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth (0-19 years)

Related Program

School Builds

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Enrollment data includes both PoP built school and non-PoP built schools receiving programming.

Number of teachers trained

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Teacher Support

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

PoP supports English language teachers in Ghana and Laos and Spanish language teachers in Guatemala.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

250 million of the world's primary school aged children lack basic reading, writing and math skills. Poor, unsafe infrastructure, untrained teachers and preventable illnesses are all barriers to quality education, especially for children living in rural, developing communities. In our countries of impact, Ghana, Guatemala and Laos, students and teachers lack the resources and tools proven to overcome these barriers. In Ghana, 28% of primary school students will drop out before completing primary school. In Guatemala, four years is the average length of schooling for a child. And in Laos, 30% of the population is illiterate, with even higher rates of illiteracy amongst ethnic minorities. Students in these communities attend class in dilapidated structures or outside, under the shade of trees, rather than in formal schools. Teachers in these communities lack formal training and don't have a support system in place to help them become effective educators. <br/><br/>Pencils of Promise (“PoP") provides the means, methods and materials necessary to increase literacy rates in the developing world. We build primary schools to ensure students have safe access to a structurally sound, quality learning environment. We train and coach teachers, implement WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) and provide innovative in-classroom programs to create a scalable model for a complete, high-quality education. Our teacher training workshops model effective classroom practice and high-engagement instruction. We build safe and clean bathrooms and teach students about WASH to keep them healthy and in school. We integrate e-readers and tablets into our programming with the goal of achieving basic literacy for 90% of students by the end of grade six.

PoP will have proven interventions that increase student outcomes in high-need areas with the ultimate goal of scaling these interventions through community and government partnership and adoption. <br/><br/>In partnership with governments, PoP will provide access to safe, local primary schools, install evidence-proven programs, invest in teacher quality and assess student progress in high-need rural areas in Laos, Ghana & Guatemala. PoP will curate and adapt innovative teaching methods to create engaging, child-centered learning environments that foster whole child development in full alignment with national curricula and standards.

Over the years, we have grown our staff and ensure that the skills and expertise required to achieve our outcome and output goals are accounted for. We employ specialists in our core program areas (Teacher Support, WASH, Builds and Learning & Evaluation) to ensure that our internal team is fully equipped to effectively and efficiently carry out our programs. Additionally, we rely on a strong network of peer organizations to learn how other organizations achieve their goals and to share best practices throughout our industry.

Ultimately, we are looking to increase primary student literacy understanding and progression from primary to school to secondary school. Our long-term indicators that we measure against this are increasing test scores in these areas and increasing the percentage of students that progress from primary school to secondary school in our geographies. The short-term milestones include both student and teacher changes: teachers participate during trainings, teachers adopt new skills and behaviors and a higher percentage of students are engaged during class. For progression, we rely on data provided by local governments to determine the percentage of students that progress from primary school to secondary school. We have baseline data on all of these indicators and monitor the progress throughout the year. We are continually testing these short-term metrics and if we have not seen a significant improvement at the aggregate level, we reassess our methodology and adjust the programs accordingly.

Since our founding in Laos a little more than 10 years ago, we have built over 500 schools across Laos, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Ghana and serve nearly 100,000 students. Moving forward in the next 10 years, we aim to have 100% program (Teacher Support and WASH) coverage in all PoP built schools. It is projected that we will reach 75% coverage in just five year, paving the way to 100% coverage in years following.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is the organization collecting feedback?

    We regularly collect feedback through: electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), paper surveys, community meetings/town halls.

  • How is the organization using feedback?

    We use feedback to: to identify and remedy poor client service experiences, to identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, to make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, to inform the development of new programs/projects, to identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, to strengthen relationships with the people we serve.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    We share feedback with: the people we serve, our staff, our board, our funders, our community partners.

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to: it is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection.

  • What significant change resulted from feedback

    Coaching schedules for the Teacher Support program were changed based on direct feedback from teachers enrolled in the program.

Financials

Pencils of Promise, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Pencils of Promise, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 4/28/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Rob Hamwee

New Mountain Finance Corporation


Board co-chair

Ms. Linda Riefler

Morgan Stanley

Adam Braun

Pencils of Promise

Karen Harris

Bain & Company

Michael Weiss

Linda Riefler

Morgan Stanley (former)

Gary Vaynerchuk

Vayner Media

Robert Hamwee

New Mountain Finance Corporation

Courtney Beale

US State Department

Jason Hodes

William Morris Endeavor

Michael Segal

Fred Segal Family LLC

Gabriel Bourgeois

Revere Resources

David Hyrck

Reed Smith LLP

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 04/28/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not Transgender (Cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/28/2020

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.

Keywords

Education, International, Literacy, Laos, Ghana, Guatemala