Pencils of Promise (PoP), the renowned education-focused nonprofit, commemorated its 15th anniversary with a remarkable gala at the iconic Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City on October 13. The event, hosted by PoP’s CEO Kailee Scales, marked 15 years of dedication to empowering communities through education, and it was a resounding success, raising an impressive $1.2 million.
The gala evening began with a star-studded red carpet, VIP reception, a seated dinner, and a lively auction. Honorees were acknowledged for their extraordinary humanitarian efforts in various sectors, all connected by their unwavering commitment to education. The PoP Activist Award was presented to Emmy award-winning Actress and Activist Debra Messing, who delivered a heartfelt speech reflecting on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
Hip Hop icons Ja Rule and Doug E. Fresh, along with Dr. Olajide Williams, Vice Dean of Community Health at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, were honored with the PoP Audacious Award for their advocacy of social change and the PoP Transformation Award for their groundbreaking work in health literacy through Hip Hop Public Health.
The gala’s annual auction featured exclusive items, including unique experiences with Ja Rule, Doug E. Fresh, Gary Vaynerchuk, and fashion designer Nicole Miller. Generous donors, including Gary Vaynerchuk, Ja Rule, Natasha Graziano, and more, demonstrated inspiring acts of generosity during the “Fund A Need” segment, contributing to the mission of building schools.
To conclude the event, CEO Kailee Scales presented a heartwarming children’s book, “DREAMS UNFOLD: The Pencils of Promise Adventure,” which features illustrations by children in PoP’s focus countries and highlights the transformative impact of PoP’s work in Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos. The gala concluded with a video celebrating PoP’s 15th anniversary, featuring well-known figures and PoP supporters who extended their warm wishes for the organization’s future success. The New York City Gospel Choir serenaded the attendees with a jubilant rendition of “Happy Birthday” and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams as they left the ballroom, encapsulating the spirit of unity and action for positive change. Pencils of Promise continues to illuminate the path to a brighter educational future for communities worldwide.