Transparency update: Why the cost of school builds has increased

Photo: Nick Onken

Pencils of Promise is an organization committed to transparency. From the start, we’ve told our donors exactly where their money is going and ensured that 100% of donations made online go directly toward our work in the field. Transparency allows us to be more accountable to our supporters, and also improves our work, as we’re able to maximize our impact through robust data collection and analysis.

In the spirit of full transparency, we’re excited to announce an official shift in the cost of funding a full school with PoP. When PoP was founded in 2008, it cost $25,000 to fund a full school. Over the years that cost has increased to $35,000 due to a number of enhancements, including building larger schools on average, improving windows and foundations, incorporating a rain catchment system (Ghana & Guatemala), ceiling fans (Ghana), thermo-acoustic roofing (Guatemala) and increasing branding and signage on all schools.

As we continue to grow as an organization, there will certainly be more changes to our funding models, and we’ll continue to inform you of those shifts. That said, our mission remains the same — we are as committed, dedicated and passionate as ever to providing access to quality education to all children, no matter where they’re born or what resources they have.

Frequently Asked Questions:


Q: Why did the cost of a school build increase from $25K to $35K?

A: Our financial team recently did a deep dive into our school build costs. The analysis revealed that our average build cost across all geographies in 2015 was $35,000. As a growing organization, we’ve expanded in the past few years and recently we’ve been building bigger schools.

Q: What fundraisers will be affected by the new school build cost? Example: “I have been actively fundraising for over two months, am I affected by the change in cost?”

A: Your campaign is not affected if you began fundraising during 2015 and you complete fundraising in 2016. All school build campaigns commenced in 2016 (and onwards) will have the new $35,000 goal.

Q: How can I travel to the field with PoP?

A: PoP holds field trips each year so that supporters have the opportunity to see the impact they’ve helped create firsthand. We invite supporters who have donated or fundraised $50K+ to attend one of these trips. As trips are limited, this threshold exists to ensure that we can continue to do what we do best: provide access to quality education for students who need it most.

Q: Have a question that wasn’t answered?

A: Please email Susie Harrison at


Want to help provide children in the developing world with access to quality education?


*For more info, please see our PoP School Build 1-pager.

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