New York, NY
Member Since 2012
Adam Braun is the Founder and CEO of Pencils of Promise, an award-winning nonprofit organization that has built more than 100 schools around the world and delivered more than five million educational hours to children in poverty. PoP was founded with just $25 and what Braun coined as a “For-Purpose” approach to blending nonprofit idealism with for-profit business principles.
Braun began his career in finance, until he met a young boy begging on the streets and asked the child what he wanted most in the world. The answer: “a pencil.” Braun then traveled through 50-plus countries to focus on educational systems and launch Pencils of Promise. He was selected as one of the first ten World Economic Forum Global Shapers and has been featured by the United Nations, Clinton Global Initiative, World Leadership Awards, Google Zeitgeist, Wired’s 2012 Smart List of 50 People Changing the World, and the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2012.
Name: Adam Braun
Expertise: Building a movement towards access to education for all
Location: New York City
Interests: Inspiring speeches, music that moves you, quality time with friends and family.
Background: Founder and Executive Director of Pencils of Promise
Favorite meal: Chicken parm
Recent purchase: I just bought the Black Keys album El Camino. It's damn good.
Hidden talent: I can snap really loudly using my forefinger and thumb on either hand.
Book/film recommendation: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Restaurant recommendation (can be anywhere in the world): Caracas in the East Village
If I had $20, I’d… Throw a party for our staff in the field.
Transformative travel experience: As a 21 year old backpacker I asked a young boy begging on the streets what he wanted most in the world. The answer- A pencil. It changed the way I viewed children in extreme poverty, their lack of access to education and their hunger for knowledge.
Favorite neighborhood (can be anywhere in the world): Railay Beach, Thailand
Dream holiday: Attending a new school opening ceremony in any of the countries where Pencils of Promise builds schools.
If I could solve one problem, it would be: I deeply believe every child on the planet should and one day will have access to quality education.
I wish people cared more about: People on the other side of the planet that are living in forms of poverty that we'll never know in this country. We're all global citizens, I wish people had greater allegiance to humanity as a whole rather than just thinking about those who sound and look like us.
Recent aha! moment: I had a really stressful day and opened my mail at the PoP office. A 15 year old girl from Albuquerque had mailed me a two page handwritten letter about her struggles with depression, something she'd never shared with anyone, and explained how discovering PoP changed her life and how she's now dedicate to creating good for others. It literally brought me to tears.
The world would be a better place if: We each dedicated ourselves to the service of others as thoroughly as we did to the service of ourselves.