To say that the Friends Academy Pencils of Promise Club has been successful would be a massive understatement. The club, commonly referred to as PoP, is one of many nationwide that are managed under the broader umbrella of the Pencils of Promise organization. Out of the 106 high-school groups in the nation- Friends Academy tops the list, ranking number one for fundraising.
Pencils of Promise is a relatively new organization, which gained momentum countrywide after its creation in 2008 by founder Adam Braun. According to their website, they are a “for-purpose organization that believes every child should have access to quality education.” Currently, they are working on building schools in the developing countries of Laos, Nicaragua, Ghana, and Guatemala. What distinguishes PoP from other charitable organizations, aside from their construction of quality schools, is their commitment to continuing and sustaining the education programs they put into effect: “We don’t just build a school and move on, we monitor and evaluate every project we undertake. Thus far, every school we’ve opened is fully operational and educating students daily.” Friends Academy is proud to play an extremely integral part in this successful movement.
Just this past year alone, the club fundraised a whopping $25,000—making it the first Pencils of Promise school club to raise enough money to build their own school. The money raised was used not only for construction, but also for training new teachers to work at the new school. With the help of the community, FA was able to build three classrooms for the Awuyakope Preschool located in the Volta region of eastern Ghana, which is one of Ghana’s ten administrative regions.
Students at Friends Academy are almost certainly aware of the numerous fundraisers held by the Pencils of Promise club. Although there are group fundraisers that include all club members, such as car washes, most funds are derived from the individual efforts of club members, such as the most recent event at Bounce! Trampoline Sports. Members must each fulfill a requirement to fundraise $250 in a creative, interesting way. For example, many members have held bake sales in the Atrium during first and second lunches. Sophomore Caroline Wilson held her own sale on April 2nd to raise money for Pencils of Promise. “My individual fundraiser was the Cinnamon Bun Waffle Sale which I did with Lily Droesch and Kelsey McEvoy. We raised about $320 and hope to do more sales in the future.” In the past, members have even been known to run marathons or hold popular SoulCycle rides in order to raise money. According to senior club leader Devon McCann (’15), “what really makes this approach successful… is the support from everyone in the club for each person’s fundraiser.”
Perhaps the club’s most well known group event is their PoP Winter Formal, which seems to have become a school tradition. This year marked the second annual Formal- on January 29th. The entire student body was encouraged to attend. Entry into the dance was for a suggested donation of $30. In terms of the expenses of the dance itself, an anonymous donor has graciously covered the costs of decorating for the past two years, allowing the club to focus on more administrative aspects of the dance, creating a memorable night for the student body, and also promoting Pencils of Promise’s amongst the community. Devon McCann describes the long but worthwhile process in preparing for the event:
“Planning the Winter Formal was not necessarily an easy feat. We [the club] had to jump through a lot of hoops to get approval and permission from several different sections of the school/administration. As far as planning the details, we made sure that all the members participated. Everyone made their opinions and ideas clear in the meetings and each person brought a dessert to the dance.”
Thanks to the extremely hard work and determination of the Pencils of Promise team, the school was able to enjoy a night of fun while also helping a charitable cause.
Through a committed membership and a high enthusiasm in implementing a wide range of fundraisers, the Friends Academy Pencils of Promise club has produced outstanding results. It has earned the distinction of being the top ranked team out of the entire organization, as well as of being the first school team in the nation to single- handedly raise $25,000 for an entire construction. Now that they have built the Awuyakope Preschool in Ghana, the club will continue raising money for more schools. Devon McCann also stated that they will try to “bring more attention to the global education crisis in general.”
As a community, we should encourage each other to get more involved in this particular cause in any way we can, if not any other philanthropic organization. After all, education is one of the Friends Academy community’s highest values, as a school extremely dedicated to academics. When asked why he joined the club, sophomore member Joseph Como stated: “I think education is the key… And it is crucial for everybody around the world to have the opportunity to be educated.”
Link to FA PoP’s fundraising page: https://fundraise.pencilsofpromise.org/fundraise/team?ftid=23709
Where the students used to learn:
Where the students learn now: