What can a pencil do for all of us? Amazing things. It can write transcendent poetry, uplifting music, or life-changing equations; it can sketch the future, give life to untold beauty, and communicate the full-force of our love and aspirations.
For any movement to gain momentum, it must start with a small action. This action becomes multiplied by the masses, and is made tangible when leadership changes course due to the weight of the movement's voice.
My journey began with a single pencil. While traveling through India in 2006, I asked a boy begging on the streets, 'If you could have anything in the world, what would you want?' and he answered me with two words: 'A pencil.' Luckily, I had one in my pocket, and in the second it took me to give it to him, a defining dream was born.
There are many challenges in the global education ecosystem: from top-down systemic issues in how educational services are organized and delivered, to bottom-up issues of curriculum effectiveness, accountability, and human resource allocation.
As our values are the core to who we are as human beings, they are also the easiest way to identify and connect with others in meaningful ways. Think about it - most political campaigns are based around values. Barack Obama's 2008 election campaign galvanized millions of youth behind two very clear values - hope and change.
We all have those things that even in the midst of stress and disarray, they energize us and give us renewed strength and purpose. These are our passions.
The most abundant resources that we possess amongst the 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States are passion and knowledge, yet our most scarce resource is collaboration.
I could enjoy the life that I had by virtue of the educational attainment that my grandparents and parents had pursued. Education was always incredibly valued in our family.
Global poverty is a complex web of interlinked problems. There is no one 'silver bullet' that will solve global inequality. Multiple contributing factors must be tackled in parallel. Yes, education alone is unlikely to lead to employment without economic reform to address the demand side in much of the developing world.
We have every resource necessary to provide access to education for every child on the planet; we just need to commit to enabling it.