CommonBond Goes to Ghana: Pencils of Promise's Perspective

Natalie Ebel, Pencils of Promise's director of marketing, joined CommonBond on our recent trip to Ghana to see our Social Promise in action.

CommonBond is everything Pencils of Promise (PoP) could ask for in a partner. Led by a visionary co-founder, the company is disrupting the traditional model for how students fund their education via social connections and technology. By supporting PoP students in Ghana (for every degree fully funded on the company's platform, CommonBond funds the education of a student in need in Ghana for a full year), CommonBond is leading the way in showing how for-profit companies can integrate social impact to effect change. As the first 1-for-1 model in education, CommonBond sets an example for other corporate enterprises who seek to make a direct impact through their own business models.

To date, PoP has built over 300 schools and provided access to education to more than 33,000 students throughout Ghana, Guatemala, Laos and Nicaragua, establishing itself as a leader amongst the innovative global nonprofits working toward sustainable social change. PoP and CommonBond share many similar traits, including our embrace of technology, transparency and a strong brand position to take on the massive challenge of global access to education.

I recently had the privilege of accompanying David Klein, CommonBond CEO and co-founder, a few members of his team and three CommonBond borrowers on a trip to Ghana to visit PoP schools and meet the students their scholarships support. It was a whirlwind four-day tour of PoP programs in Ghana, which included attending a school inauguration and observing a literacy lesson. We even had an opportunity to take part in the school building process, working alongside community members to construct the newest PoP school.

On the trip, we also visited Adaklu Hli Have, one of the schools where PoP is piloting an e-reader program. Our initial results from the pilot showed that 89 percent of sixth grade students receiving PoP programming achieved benchmark literacy proficiency, versus 56 percent in a control groupa 33 percent improvement that has motivated us to scale this programming to reach more communities and further validate these outcomes. This upcoming year, we're planning to expand e-readers to 22 schools in Ghana, and it's truly thanks to CommonBondwho have seen the impact of our programs firsthandthat allow us to continue testing, growing and expanding our vision of providing quality education to all children.

Throughout our partnership, we've been blown away by CommonBonds relentless ambition to provide access to education, to college and graduate students in the U.S. and to students in Ghana. Their team embraces technology and transparency, asks probing questions and pushes PoP to tirelessly improve our programs, making them the ideal partner. PoP and CommonBond are both young organizations with large goals, and one of the best aspects of the partnership is that it is continuous, recurring and will allow us to grow together as both organizations work to scale our impact in the years to come.

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