Adam Braun

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Adam Braun
Adam Braun at SALT Conference 2013.jpg
Born (1983-10-31) October 31, 1983 (age 36)
New York City
EducationBrown University
OccupationFounder and CEO of Pencils of Promise

Adam Braun (born October 31, 1983, New York City) is an American entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. He is COO of WeGrow by WeWork [1] and founder of Pencils of Promise, a non-profit organization that builds schools and increases access to education for children in the developing world[2]. He was CEO and co-founder of MissionU, a debt-free higher education program, acquired by WeWork in May 2018[3].

He is also the creator of the “for-purpose” approach[4] and wrote The New York Times bestselling book, The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change.[5]


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

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.[6]

Braun went abroad through the Semester at Sea program to see the world while studying and traveled to over fifty countries after graduation. According to Braun, while visiting different countries, he asked local children what they wanted most in the world, and in India, a young boy begging on the streets told him that he wanted a pencil. Braun states he gave the boy his own pencil and that this incident served as the inspiration for Braun and finally led him to start his own organization, Pencils of Promise.[7]

Braun worked at Bain & Company in 2007-2010.[4]

Braun founded Pencils of Promise as he turned 25 years old in October 2008 with only $25 of his own money, focusing instead on raising funds from other people through grassroots events and social media.[8] Within four years Pencils of Promise founded over a hundred schools.[9] As of 2018, they have founded more than 500 schools and served more than 70,000 children throughout the developing world.[10]

Braun's public speaking and writing frequently advocates for the adoption of a "for-purpose" approach, which he established as a framework to help organizations and companies succeed. He also coined the term "profitable purpose".[11] Both terms were unveiled during a keynote at the Google Zeitgeist Conference.[4]

The Promise of a Pencil[edit]

The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list[12] after being released on March 18, 2014 by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

The narrative-driven memoir is broken into thirty short chapters, each titled with a mantra, which purport to collectively provide the guiding steps to a life of success and significance. After selling out on Amazon within five days of release,[13] the book became an Amazon #1 Bestseller and was listed on LinkedIn as one of the "5 Books Every 20-Something Needs to Read".[14] In July 2014 it was recognized as the #1 bestselling book in the country under "What Corporate America is Reading".[15]



  1. ^ "Welcoming Adam Braun to WeGrow". Newsroom. 2018-05-16. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
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  4. ^ a b c Burstein, David D. "Innovation Agents: Adam Braun, Justin Bieber, And Pencils Of Promise." Fast Company. N.p., 14 May 2012. Web. 04 Oct. 2012. <>.
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  6. ^ Fried, Katrina, and Paul Mobley. Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time. New York: Welcome, 2012, 28.
  7. ^ 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. <>.
  8. ^ Adam Braun: How He Started Pencils of Promise. – Forbes.
  9. ^ 30 Under 30: Education. Forbes.
  10. ^ Adam Braun: About
  11. ^ Serle, Rebecca. "The New Nonprofit: Pencils of Promise." The Huffington Post. N.p., 28 Nov. 2010. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2012. <>.
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  18. ^ 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. <>.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-07. Retrieved 2012-10-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Meet the SuperSoul100: The World's Biggest Trailblazers in One Room". O Magazine. 1 Aug 2016. Retrieved 5 Jul 2018.