Pencils of Promise and the Fight Against Illiteracy

Did you know that over 250 million kids around the world can’t read? That’s the entire population of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco combined, times 10. Pretty astonishing considering it’s a basic skill that most of us take for granted.

But children growing up in deprived regions of poor countries such as Ghana, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Laos lack the basic reading, writing and math skills needed to build a better future, live healthier lives and begin to close the gender gap. If all students in low-income countries gained basic reading skills, 171 million people could lift themselves out of poverty which alone would decrease poverty around the world by 12%.

Since Adam Braun founded Pencils of Promise in 2009, he has made its mission to change what a learning experience can be for a child anywhere in the world. By building schools, supplying materials and student resources, emphasizing clean water and sanitation, and providing support for teachers, the organization has made a positive impact the education of nearly 35,000 students.

During a month-long Back to School campaign that kicked off on August 12th, Reserve joined Pencils of Promise (PoP for short) to help raise awareness about the state of literacy in the world. Throughout the three weeks leading up to International Literacy Day on September 8th, PoP celebrated with several events, such as having newly appointed PoP CEO, Michael Dougherty, ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ, joined by members of the Reserve team.

PoP Reserve team members and PoP CEO Michael Dougherty ringing the NASDAQ opening bell

Other incredible brands partnered with PoP for this campaign including Bubszbeauty YouTube star Lindy Tsang, who set a goal of raising $50K; Pocket, which used its save-and-share content platform to raise awareness for literacy; Zara Terez, a New York-based apparel line that donated 20% of proceeds from every sale of their  newest pair of leggings; and The Skimm, which featured Adam Braun as Skimm’r of the Week. PoP drew in huge amounts of involvement from the public as well, using social media to generate thousands of tweets and retweets with the help of celebrity supporter Justin Bieber. For its part, Reserve donated $20 for every completed reservation made using promo code POPBACK2015.

The culmination of this great campaign took place on International Literacy Day, September 8th, 2015. Life is Good hosted a private event at the Gansevoort Park Hotel where more celebrity support came in the form of Gayle King, who rocked an inspired yellow dress as she helped Adam Braun light up the Empire State Building to look like a bright yellow pencil.

PoP2 Gayle King and Adam Braun

The (glowing) intention was to educate and inspire all of New York City to take action and help reduce the number of children who don’t have access to great education. Everyone cheered as the lights when on, and the entire evening made us proud to support Pencils of Promise.

Pop3 The Empire State Building on International Literacy Day, Sept. 8, 2015

At Reserve, we’re honored to be able to make a positive contribution to the community. From combating hunger during San Francisco Restaurant Week to partnering with restaurants for charity, we’re always looking for new ways to help give back to those in need, and we were thrilled to help support Pencils of Promise in their campaign to raise awareness for such an important cause.

Happy dining,

Michelle Manning, Expansion Operations

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