Adam Braun

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Adam Braun
Adam Braun at SALT Conference 2013.jpg
Born (1983-10-31) October 31, 1983 (age 30)
New York City
Education Brown University
Occupation Founder and CEO of Pencils of Promise
Religion Jewish

Adam Braun (born October 31, 1983, New York City) is an American businessman, author, and philanthropist. He is the Founder & CEO of Pencils of Promise, a non-profit organization that builds schools and increases access to education for children in the developing world.[1]

He is also the creator of the “for-purpose” and “profitable purpose” approaches to effective philanthropy.[2] He also wrote a book entitled The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change published in March 2014.


Braun was born in New York City to a Conservative Jewish family and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut with his siblings Scott (better known as music promoter Scooter Braun), Liza, Sam, and Cornelio.

Adam's father Ervin Braun, a dentist, founded an AAU basketball team called the Connecticut Flame in 1995 and still remains the coach of the team.[3][4] Adam attended Brown University, where he played varsity basketball for the Brown Bears and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in Economics, Sociology, and Public & Private Sector Organizations.[5]

Braun studied abroad through the Semester at Sea program and traveled to over fifty countries after graduation, sparking his interest in international development. While visiting India, a young boy begging on the streets told Adam that he wanted a pencil, so Adam gave the boy his, which served as the inspiration for Braun starting his own organization, Pencils of Promise.[6] Prior to starting his own non-profit, Braun worked at Bain & Company from 2007-2010.[2]

Braun coined “for-purpose” in reference to a more effective approach to “non-profit” organizational outlook and strategy.[4] “Profitable purpose” refers to the intersection of non-profit and for-profit, in which each person maximizes value for themselves and others.[7] Both terms were unveiled at the Google Zeitgeist 2011, and have since seen widespread adoption in publications including Huffington Post, Fast Company and Mashable.[2]


  • 2012 Forbes 30 Under 30 List [8]
  • Wired Magazine's 2012 Smart List of 50 People Changing the World.[9]
  • One of the first ten World Economic Forum Global Shapers selected [10]
  • Distinguished American Leadership Award at 2012 Conference on American Leadership [11]
  • Featured in Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time.[4]
  • Fast Company Innovation Agent 2012 [2]
  • British Airways Face of Opportunity Grand Prize Winner 2011 [12]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d Burstein, David D. "Innovation Agents: Adam Braun, Justin Bieber, And Pencils Of Promise." Fast Company. N.p., 14 May 2012. Web. 04 Oct. 2012. <>.
  3. ^ "Liza Braun bio". 29 October 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Fried, Katrina, and Paul Mobley. Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time. New York: Welcome, 2012.
  5. ^ Fried, Katrina, and Paul Mobley. Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time. New York: Welcome, 2012, 28.
  6. ^ Halperin, Shirley. "Adam Braun on Pencils of Promise and How Justin Bieber Is 'Making the World Better'" The Hollywood Reporter 28 July 2011: n. pag. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <>.
  7. ^ Serle, Rebecca. "The New Nonprofit: Pencils of Promise." The Huffington Post. N.p., 28 Nov. 2010. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2012. <>.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Wired UK Staff. "The Smart List 2012: 50 People Who Will Change the World."Wired UK. N.p., 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.
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