Why The Motley Fool Plans to Invest $75,000 in This Pencil

As investors, we all know the greatest value and future return is generated when dollars are invested wisely.

That means that sometimes even a small amount can provide one heck of a great return.

So we want to share with you an exciting opportunity to invest better... but not in stocks.

Our Foolanthropy campaigns seek out great opportunities to make our dollars really count. During the season of giving and love, we ask for help investing in communities across the world. By building educational foundations, we can give the gift of so many brighter and more successful futures, and make the whole world a better place.

This year, The Motley Fool is partnering with Pencils of Promise. Our goal is to band together with our global Foolish community to improve people's lives around the world through education.

Click here for a fantastic place to invest your tax-deductible giving before 2013 ends, or keep reading to discover more about this amazing organization.

Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun shared his remarkable story with us earlier this year in a visit to Fool HQ. An avid backpacker, Adam decided a few years ago to ask one person in every country what they most wanted in the world.

A boy in India had a simple answer: a pencil.

I reached into my backpack, handed him my pencil, and watched as a wave of possibility washed over him. A smile erupted and his eyes brightened. And I saw then the profound power and promise brought through something as small as giving a pencil to just one child.

After arriving back home, Adam raised $25,000 from friends and family to build a school in Laos, which he dedicated to his grandmother.

He soon quit his job as a consultant at Bain & Company and turned the business skills he'd acquired toward building schools.

"Nearly everyone I knew thought that I was an idiot for leaving my job, but I realized that I had to pursue what I was passionate about."

What's so special about education?

It provides widespread, long-lasting benefits:

Education goes beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic. Education is the basic building block of every society, and it is the most important tool for alleviating poverty and inequality. Education allows people to better provide for themselves and their families, creates opportunities for economic growth, helps improve health by fighting the spread of diseases and reducing mother and child mortality, and encourages good governance and stability within a community.

Pencils of Promise believes every contribution, big or small, makes "an incredible impact on our students in the developing world."

Every $25 can give one student education for a year, setting young kids on the road to a better life. It's an awesome investment.

Since Adam founded Pencils of Promise five years ago, the results have been remarkable: 159 schools built and thousands of students served:

The educational gains have been remarkable:

Here's what explains the effectiveness and success of Adam's model:

  • Giving 100%: Private donors already cover Pencils of Promise's operating costs so that every cent of online donations goes directly to building and operating schools.
  • Smart planning: Adam's assembled a smart, experienced team to maximize the impact of every project. Their methodology focuses on geographies that are politically and socially stable, willing to invest in the future of education, not over- nor undersaturated by NGOs, and that display a measurable need for schools.
  • Build and hire: Pencils of Promise partners with locals. Villages show their commitment to education by agreeing to contribute 10%-20% of building costs in the form of materials and labor.
  • Local sourcing: Using local supplies and workers for construction boosts local economies. It also means donation dollars are utilized cost-effectively.
  • Monitoring: Pencils of Promise carefully tracks every investment it makes so that it can work with schools to constantly improve their impact. They also send construction photos and updates once the school is complete, so we can see where our dollars are going and the direct impact they make.

So what can we do to build a world in which many more children have access to education? Uniting our own resources together as a community, we can gather a great holiday season gift that will reach very far.

Pencils of Promise believes every contribution, big or small, makes "an incredible impact on our students in the developing world."

Every $25 we donate can give one student education for a year, setting young kids on the road to a better life.

With The Motley Fool community, we're aiming to raise $50,000 for the Season of Promise campaign. This investment will build two schools in Guatemala. And if we raise $75,000, we'll be able to build three schools.

The Fool has made a $5,000 initial contribution, will match up to $5,000 in employee contributions, and will donate an additional $2,500 if we as a Foolish community reach 750 individual donors.

So now's your chance to chip in with us alongside the many Fools who are helping to make sure that every child who wants an education has access to a school. (Remember to claim your 2013 tax deduction if you contribute before the year-end deadline.)

Click here to find out how you can help, too.


Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (58)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 4:41 PM, gskinner75006 wrote:

    Not to rain on your parade, but have you read the articles about the state of the education system in this country?

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 5:21 PM, patriot4971 wrote:

    I want to say a lot about this article but I much rather not. I see Alyce Lomax's name on any article...I shake my head and move on.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 5:51 PM, TMFVelvetHammer wrote:

    To the two commentors above:

    Do either of these things preclude people from helping Pencils of Promise?

    The cool thing about being part of a wealthy nation is that we can give a little bit to this great cause (which will help create international wealth, which over time makes for stronger trade partners, making us even wealthier) while still contributing towards better domestic education.

    And patriot4971 - the best way to get to the truth about any topic is to read things that you may disagree with, or that may challenge your belief, thesis, or opinion. Only following those that you already agree with will leave you in bad shape when they (and you) turn out to be wrong...

  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2013, at 9:46 AM, FutureMonkey wrote:

    Seems like an excellent researched Foolanthropy campaign. I like the strong business background of the founder, as well as the goals of the project. I also like the utilization of local labor and materials that doesn't undercut the market causing disruption of local economy and businesses.

    Good choice Fools!


  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2013, at 10:08 AM, FutureMonkey wrote:

    gskinner wrote about the state of education in this country. You might prefer a different group. You shoud check out BuildOn

    They combine afterschool programs in urban areas with at risk kids. They train the high school kids as tutors for elementary school kid, teach them basic life skills (like balancing a check book, having a budget, study habits), building, gardening, restoration project skills. Then later a select number of students travel to other countries to build schools there. The idea being they see other cultures and circumstances and bring the skills and experiences back to their communities.

    The success rates are high - dramatic reduction in truancy and 95% of build on students graduating and enrolling in 4 year colleges.

    This one serves both our kids, support our educational system as well as build schools abroad.


  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2013, at 10:30 AM, FutureMonkey wrote:

    Obviously not wanting to take away from the Foolanthropy campaign by describing BuildOn, but demonstrate that there is no end to worthy groups working on improving education at home and abroad. Giving through the Foolanthropy campaign can unlock an additional $2500 of MF money for PencilsofPromise when they get 750 community members to give. With 75,000+ members on CAPS, shouldn't be too hard to find 1% of the community to participate.


  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 1:56 AM, Ling wrote:

    Recently, my daughter and husband went to Cambodia for Go-educate project. This was started by a medical professional and i believe there are 16 countries involved. Cambodia has lost a whole generation of capable people due to war. The Go-educate tries to educate the young generation to cope, be it farming, health care, basic necessities. The latest trip consisting of 8-9 professionals provided care to some 200+ patients. It was a meaning trip.


  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 3:37 PM, humbledutch wrote:

    I'm part of the 1%.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 3:03 PM, cmalek wrote:

    After I educate MY kids, I'll think about educating kids in other countries. As the saying goes "Charity begins at home."

  • Report this Comment On January 07, 2014, at 12:17 AM, JSergeant wrote:

    Is there an issue with overseas members being able to make donations? See this post:

  • Report this Comment On January 31, 2014, at 1:42 PM, DLZegibe wrote:

    Dear All -

    Since we collectively support schools and education where are we on supporting Craig Mortenson's Central Asia Institute building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

    He had a little bad press a few years back but he's still building schools in a really "tricky" part of the world.

    What say ye?


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