Microsoft Philanthropies partners with Pencils of Promise to build schools

Kareem Anderson

Microsoft Philanthropies, while arguably not as popular as the company’s more prominent technology news, has been quietly appearing in recent marketing material as its significant contributions are leading to more widespread real-world achievements. Under the leadership of corporate vice president Mary Snapp and chief operating officer Lori Forte Harnick, Microsoft Philanthropies over the years have been associated with numerous product donations, disaster response efforts, accessibility endeavors, and hackathons resulting in new medical patents and advancements.

Most recently, Microsoft has put a seemingly reinvigorated interest in education and its putting the considerable might of its Microsoft Philanthropies division behind achieving a much-needed change in the arena. Partnered with Pencils of Promise, Microsoft Philanthropies has established a mission of building ten new schools in parts of the world where educational access was difficult to come by for many.

Elisa Willman, director of Social Good Marketing for Microsoft Philanthropies touches on the work being done by the company and Pencils of Promise.

There is nothing more powerful than being in the field with an organization to truly understand the impact they are making on the ground. That is why I was thrilled to join Pencils of Promise in Guatemala, where they are working in 155 partner communities to bring quality education to Guatemalan children, who typically only attend school for four short years.

As a partner, we invested $500,000 in PoP’s work to increase educational opportunities in the developing world. This included support for the construction of 10 new PoP schools.

While in Guatemala, we traveled to five rural communities to unveil and dedicate some of these schools. We met with students, teachers, principals, and community members. There was music and dancing, flowers and fresh coconuts.  And, in more than one community, fireworks.  Mostly, there were smiles – hundreds of warm, appreciative smiles.

The rock-star greetings we received were moving on several levels.”

Pencils of Promised, founded in 2008 with Adam Braun gifting a single pencil to a young child, can now sit atop an accomplishment list of having helped over 344 schools and 34,000 students worldwide. Partnered with Microsoft Philanthropies, Braun and Pencils of Promise can hope to do much more over time to help get educational resources to any and every child.