Pencils With A Purpose

Our mission is to provide all students with school supplies, while repurposing old school supplies that would otherwise end up in a landfill

Photo of Krith Gopal

Written by

Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth


Help us stay in touch!

4253057576 10849 Muirwood way NE Redmond WA 98053

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Date You Started Your Project Started

August 2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

All students are given a promise for a good education. But not all students are given the proper tools to excel in school. School is a place to build a foundation for the rest of our lives. It’s what helps us live, get jobs, and earn money. While for some kids it’s dangerous to go to school, due to poor infrastructure, others are financially unstable to give their children the tools to do well in school.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our mission is to bridge this gap and provide every student with school supplies, while repurposing old school supplies that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Together, we are committed to making sure no student is left behind, and building a better Earth. Pencils With A Purpose is an organization that acquires school supplies from donations. We accept both cash and supply donations, no matter the size or amount. We are planning to set up donation boxes at grocery stores and office supply chains where we will accept both new and used school supplies as long as they are in good condition to be given to a student in need. We are planning to partner with local donation centers, schools, and office supply chains to make sure that no student is left without school supplies for the coming school year.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

On Maya's recent trip to Jordan, she saw many stands where local Jordanian families were selling souvenirs, and among those families were young children. She still remembers the faces of those kids who needed money from the tourists passing by to have something to eat that night. Forget school, these kids needed ample food for the night and a good shelter. The image of those small kids resonated with her and she thought to herself, that they need to be in school, learning, playing with other children, and having a decent childhood. After she told me about this experience, we wanted to create a local program that gives students the proper supplies they need to go to school and have a good education. The major problem we want to tackle in the future is providing students around the world with the opportunity to go to school, like the children in Jordan.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

There are a few ways to get involved with our project. The first option is to be a donor. Money donations through our website are acceptable. Coming to our fundraisers or donating to our donation boxes at grocery stores is another way to participate. The second option is through volunteering. We’re always looking for new volunteers to help us set up fundraisers or assist in any logistical planning (collecting inventory, marketing to local businesses, giving the supplies to families).

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

One current program similar to ours is called Pencils of Promise. The main difference between our program and Pencils of Promise is that we are more focused on providing students the resources and supplies they need to go to school. We will talk with minority families about what resources will be beneficial for their child’s education and we will partner with office supply chains so donors can get involved with our project.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We plan to increase the numbers of families whose children can get sent to school with our community outreach fundraisers. Hopefully we will get a chance to connect with these families and talk about what resources would be beneficial to supplement their child’s education. So far, we have created a website, set up an email for future business inquiries, and have started planning our first fundraiser. Our email is We are still at a preliminary stage in this project, and hopefully we can spread the word about our organization and what we do through talking with local community centers, stores, and people. We are in the process of designing posters for community outreach and to get the public aware of what we are doing.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

In the many weeks we’ve spent putting this together, we’ve come up with several ideas for how to improve our project and make it more meaningful to the communities who could benefit from it. We would partner with office supply chains like Office Depot, Staples, Office Max etc. They would sponsor our organization and help spread the word about what we’re doing and why it’s meaningful, and during the back to school season they could open up donation boxes where people can donate either money or supplies on their way out. When this organization gets big enough, the companies themselves may pledge money towards our cause. We could also set up a model similar to Box Tops, except have the money go towards our cause.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Family support

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Narayan

Very well done.

View all comments