One Pencil is a 501(c)(3) public charity non profit organization based in the United States that supports educational programs, rigerous academic research, and community development projects in southern Africa and South America. We currently have ongoing research 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” told by Helen.
I began working in Bolivia with the Tsimane Health and Life History Project as an undergraduate in 2005. When I began my graduate studies a few years later I focused studies on the relationship between early access to resources, quality of schooling, and lifetime outcomes. During each field visit our research project would provide school supplies—generally three pencils, three pens, and a notebook—to every child who participated in the project, as well as books and teaching supplies to local schools and teachers. Children and teachers would often stow away their supplies rather than use them. When I asked why they weren’t using their new supplies, students often said it was because they weren’t sure when/if they’d be replaced.
Over the last few years our educational research project expanded to Namibia where I observed similar behaviors; both teachers and students would stow their supplies rather than use them. Additionally, I was also advised in Namibia 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 to me that pencils were so difficult to obtain that it was not appropriate to give such extravagant gifts for participation.
The reality that basic school supplies could be considered “extravagant” highlighted the need to properly equip students and teachers on a consistent basis. This is why we began One Pencil.
One Pencil Project 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 each of our partner’s project regions & collaborate with other nonprofits and local leaders in those areas too.
Broaden our efforts to include the Four Corners region of the United States.