The Creation of Pencils of Promise

UPDATED: May 24, 2024
PUBLISHED: October 24, 2017

Scooter Braun says every single deal he makes has to have some element of philanthropy. He encourages all of his clients to abide by the same principle, which is how Justin Bieber became a contributor to Pencils of Promise, the charity run by Scooter’s brother, Adam Braun.

Related: Scooter Braun Stands Up

Scooter says it all started nearly 15 years ago, when Adam was doing a “semester at sea” program at the end of college before starting his job at a big investment firm. The boat was hit by a tsunami. “He thought he was going to die in Arctic waters,” Scooter says. “By a miracle, the boat didn’t turn over. Two tankers came and steadied them.” After that, his finance-minded brother was a changed man.

Adam put off starting the job and took a trip to India instead. When he was there, he met a young boy begging in the streets and asked him what he wanted most in the world. The boy said that what he wanted most was a pencil.


Pencils of Promise has helped build more than 600 sustainable schools in remote villages around the world.


“He gives him a pencil, and the kid starts hysterically crying,” says Scooter. Adam then looked at the global education crisis and created Pencils of Promise, which has helped build more than 600 sustainable schools in remote villages around the world. Soon Scooter was donating to the cause, and getting his clients, such as Bieber and Usher, to do the same.

Related: Scooter Braun on the Power of Vulnerability


This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Michael J. Mooney is a journalist who writes for D Magazine, GQ, ESPN: The Magazine, Outside, SUCCESS and Popular Mechanics. He is co-director of the annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. His stories have appeared in multiple editions of The Best American Sports Writing and The Best American Crime Reporting. He lives in Dallas with his fiancée, Tara, and their retired racing greyhound.