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pencilsofpromise.org

Founded Year

2008

About Pencils of Promise

Pencils of Promise is a for-purpose organization that works across the globe to build schools and create programs around the goal of education for all.

Pencils of Promise Headquarter Location

37 West 28th Street 3rd Fl.

New York, New York, 10001,

United States

212-777-3170

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Latest Pencils of Promise News

Hollywood & Mind: Meadow Walker On Teaming With Pencils Of Promise And Her Own Mental Heath Regimen

Apr 11, 2022

Got it! Meadow Walker Even the most well-connected of influencers can find themselves suddenly spurred to send a direct message when inspiration strikes. That’s how Meadow Walker—model, actress and head of The Paul Walker Foundation , which she founded to honor her late father’s legacy—came to be an ambassador for Pencils of Promise , the organization founded in 2009 that’s built more than 550 schools serving 900,00 students, teachers and community members in Ghana, Guatemala and Laos. “I’d been spending a lot of time in Ghana, and I was inspired by work they’re doing there. Their access to education was so impressive to me,” Walker says. “So I actually DM’d them, which is kindof funny. They answered that day.” At 23, Walker is already quite competent using her platform and nearly 4 million followers for good. “It’s something that really means a lot to me so it’s easy to speak about,” she says of Pencils or Promise. “I can see people are really engaging, and I’m in awe because I see the response and what we’ve been able to do as a collective is so big.” Engaging with ambassadors—which also have included Justin Bieber, Olivia Culpo, Gigi Hadid and Endeavor CMO Bozoma Saint John—who then engage their followers is critical in organically spreading the Pencils of Promise mission, says Kailee Scales, who became CEO of the organization last July after serving executive roles at ThinkFree Global Strategies, Black Lives Matter Global Network and Teach for America, among other organizations. “One of the things I’m so enthusiastic in the past years is seeing how big of an impact social media connectivity has, and this leadership those with influence can have,” Scales says. “It really does help broaden the impact because I believe each and every one of us, no matter our walk of life, have the opportunity to change the world. And if any one of us can influence another one of us to be transformative, it’s incredibly impactful.” MORE FOR YOU While Pencils of Promise is rooted in providing infrastructure in the form of safe, sustainable places to learn core competencies—its mission is equally about educating and empowering the whole child, with mental health as a key tenant. A new short film about the organization that features Walker beautifully captures the feeling of soaring experienced by children in underserved communities, especially girls, when their talents are unlocked and supported. “People in the areas where we work are at particularly high risk for mental health challenges because of poverty, because of early marriage, because of early pregnancy, because of things like child labor,” says Scales, who shares the statistic that one in seven young people aged 10-19 globally experience a mental disorder. “Education mitigates a lot of those things. It directly impacts the pathway out of poverty. it directly impacts whether or not a girl becomes pregnant at an early age or is married at an early age, and whether or not a child is forced to work early. Education allows for children to think about their futures in a different way. They are allowed to think about themselves and value themselves and their talents.” Because ability is distributed, but opportunity is not, “Imagine being in an environment when you have gifts—because we all do—but they are not allowed to flourish,” Scales says. “Education in an environment that is safe, with skilled teachers, where students are engaged, where there is clean water and a bathroom… gives you the ability to see yourself how you want to see yourself, and it allows you to fly.” Mental health is woven into a curriculum steeped heavily in social emotional learning, which extends to teachers and community members so they can also show up in their best ways. “It speaks to feelings, engages students in learning about themselves in the world so that they are good citizens and they understand their presence and build their self-esteem,” Scales says. Support also means a community-wide effort to ensure girls can attend school when they are menstruating. Pencils of Promise engages members of the entire ecosystem—boys too!—to not only understand how women’s bodies function but help make sanitary products that are sustainable. Pencils of Promise CEO Kailee Scales Pencils of Promise “When you think of the challenges to self-esteem and interpersonal relationships having your period can have on a woman, you understand the connection to these services and mental health,” Scales says. “All around the world, when women hit puberty, they fall back, and the boys start to emerge as leaders. Even in the US and countries where we feel like we should be over this by now, women are stigmatized when they get their periods. What we are able to do through our mental health programming is empower women to understand how their bodies work. And we are also able to empower boys and the community to understand too.” As she works to elevate wellness in Ghana, Walker is also working on her own mental health. As well as citing the benefits of spending time in nature, acupuncture, her yoga practice and gathering with friends, she’s a big proponent of therapy. “I don’t think it’s necessarily known to everyone that I go to therapy and do these certain things, but I’m completely comfortable talking about it,” she says. “I do therapy once a week and I think it’s really great for everyone, honestly, to talk. It’s not just for if you have something in your life that you need to talk about, it’s also great to talk about your mental health to a professional any time. You can be the image of health, but it’s so useful always.” Lately she’s been working on maintaining balance. “With my career and my philanthropic work and my friends... I’m trying to always make sure I keep my mental health stable. Especially in fashion, it’s so chaotic and it can take you over if you don’t hold your ground,” Walker shares. “I want to change my perspective of how I take care of myself, turning going to an acupuncturist session or having a therapy session into something that’s a job, something I can’t just cancel at the last minute. And that’s helped a lot. I used to think, ‘I’m too busy, I can’t do this right now’ but really... can’t you take one hour to go do something for yourself?” Both Walker and Scales also have brought home gems of wisdom from the Pencils of Promise communities they serve. “I remember my first experience going to Ghana,” Walker recalls. “There was just this overall happiness and feeling of contentment that they have. I feel like we’re always wanting more; they were very happy, just wanting to have fun and be outside. There’s a lot less of this competition I feel like we have in the US where everyone is trying to get there first. “I was at the school and little girls were helping other kids with math and translating English for me because a lot of them didn’t speak English. The class felt like a family. And when I got home, I had this new feeling, like I can’t hang out with people who don’t [understand that]… It’s about realizing that what we have is right in front of us and to really cherish that.” “It feels like there’s this emphasis on the collective and ensuring that each other is taken care of,” Scales says. “When we build schools, the entire community comes out.” Hollywood & Mind is a recurring column that lives at the intersection of entertainment and wellbeing, and features interviews with musicians, actors and other culture influencers who are elevating the conversation around mental health. Follow me on  Twitter .

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  • When was Pencils of Promise founded?

    Pencils of Promise was founded in 2008.

  • Where is Pencils of Promise's headquarters?

    Pencils of Promise's headquarters is located at 37 West 28th Street, New York.

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