The team at a nonprofit called Pencils of Promise set out in 2008 to build a single school. They ended up building dozens, then hundreds. And they're still going. Along the way, they heard about AmazonSmile and immediately realized it could help them do even more good.
"Because so many customers from Amazon started at smile.amazon.com, we were able to create funding to build a new school in a small rural community in Ghana, in West Africa, called Mafi Wudukpo," says Michael Dougherty, the CEO of Pencils of Promise.
AmazonSmile customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers. Since AmazonSmile launched in October 2013, millions of customers have signed up and supported tens of thousands of non-profits.
The customers who signed up to support Pencils of Promise made big changes possible for the children of Mafi Wudukpo. Michael says, "We were able to replace a mud structure – with no proper windows and no doors that was overrun with rain in the rainy season – with a proper school with three clean, new, dry classrooms. And now we have 128 students enrolled in the preschool and primary school. They're learning in a way they've never been able to before."
Pencils of Promise isn't just about construction. It focuses on literacy. "We believe that literacy – and English literacy in Ghana – is an opportunity for children to learn the language of higher education that will allow them to continue beyond primary school into secondary school, and perhaps to university. It's also the language that will ultimately result in higher-paying jobs and mobility."
The learning made possible by AmazonSmile customers boils down to giving the kids of Mafi Wudukpo "something they deserve," Michael says. "We believe in education for every child. It's a fundamental human right and it's one that far too many children in the world don't have access to."
The Pencils of Promise team looks forward to building a second school some day with the help of AmazonSmile customers. Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun says, "The beautiful thing about AmazonSmile is that as a consumer, you're going to buy whatever you're going to buy anyway. But the fact that, with the simple click of a button, you can impact somebody else's life along the way is completely transformational."