How Pencils of Promise Raised $1.9M with the Help of VR

Pencils of Promise Virtual Reality
Usher, John Legend, and More Assemble to Raise Funds and Celebrate Pencil of Promise’s Mission to Provide Quality Education

Virtual reality has the ability to change the way we experience the world. These experiences can transport viewers to far off places as if they were actually there. But more significantly, virtual reality has the power to connect humans to other humans in ways that were once unimaginable.

It is this power of human connection in virtual reality, where users can become more compassionate and empathetic, that can ignite people to take action and potentially help change the world.

Last month for-purpose education organization Pencils of Promise (PoP) did just that with virtual reality, creating an experience that connected supporters directly to their purpose on an emotional level. At a celebrity-studded annual gala in New York hosted by Pencils of Promise, attendees were not only shown the locations they could affect change with their support, but actually see firsthand, the children whose lives they could help transform.


The fabricated Ghanian classroom and VR experience

Made in partnership with RYOT, the VR experience was shown off in a unique classroom fabrication and virtual reality installation at the gala. Through the use of Oculus Gear VR headsets, the VR film transported guests to a PoP classroom in rural Ghana, showing the transformational effect education can have on a community.


Transport yourself into a Ghana classroom in VR

The roughly 90-second VR film showcased the learning environment prior to having a Pencils of Promise school, which is shown outside under mango trees or in a dilapidated, unsafe structure. The short film then transitions to highlighting the impact of a new school and how it can transform the life of a child, the parents, and the community.

The evening’s VR installation and experience has not only helped position Pencils of Promise as an early adopter of social good storytelling, much like their partner RYOT, but has also likely added to the gala’s success of raising over $1.9M from supporters during the night.

With close to 400 supporters having experienced the fabricated Ghanian classroom (16 ft wide) and VR film, many of whom it was their first time in VR like Usher, Stacy London and Chiwetel Ejiofor, the PoP virtual reality installation showed just how powerful social good storytelling can be to create empathy and inspire individuals to take action.

If you are hoping to check out the VR film yourself, it will soon be available on GearVR later this month. If you are looking to learn more about Pencils of Promise and show your support, you can visit them at

Image Credit: Pencils of Promise

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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