One Pencil is a 501(c)(3) public charity non profit organization based in the United States that supports educational programs and community development projects within Namibia, southern Angola, and Bolivia.
Through your giving, we will build strategic partnerships with local leaders to support educational programs, community development infrastructure projects, and provide disaster relief. Current partners include local leaders from the HIZETJITWA Indigenous Peoples Organisation (HIPO) & Ondao Mobile Schools in Namibia, and The Tsimane Gran Consejo & The Tsimane Health and Life History Project in Bolivia.
The story behind the name “One Pencil”
Our CEO, Dr. Helen Davis, began conducting educational research in Bolivia through the support of the Tsimane Health and Life History Project. During each visit she would provide school supplies (generally three pencils, three pens, and a notebook) to each child who participated in the project, and she would provide academic and teaching supplies to local schools and teachers. Children and teachers would often stow away the supplies rather than use them. When people were asked why they did not want to use their new supplies the students would say it was because they feared losing or breaking these valuable gifts which could not be easily replaced, if at all.
When the program expanded to Namibia, similar behaviors were observed; both teachers and students would stow their supplies out of fear of losing such valued gifts. Dr. Davis was also advised that children participating in the research program should only receive “one pencil,” rather than the full set of supplies generally given in Bolivia. It was explained that pencils were difficult to obtain and expensive, and it was not appropriate to give such extravagant gifts for participation.
The realization that meager school supplies could be considered “extravagant” highlighted both the need to properly equip these students and teachers and also the opportunity to make a significant impact even from modest resources.
The primary goal of the One Pencil Project is to provide annual, sustainable support to needy communities in Bolivia, southern Angola, and Namibia. As the project grows, we hope to expand our scope and charitable giving, but we intend to be a consistent source of annual support to the schools in these communities.
Research through the University of Utah, The Tsimane Health and Life History Project, and Harvard University collaborate with One Pencil to meet our annual and long term goals.
Provide school supplies to children at the beginning of each academic year.
Work with local leaders to assist with community development projects.
Establish a fully functioning site in Bolivia and Namibia & collaborate with other nonprofits and local leaders.
Broaden our efforts to include the Four Corners region of the United States.