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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Meet RSM 90-90-9 Winner: Dee Komaromi

Dee Komaromi | Consulting Supervisor | Irvine, CA
B. B. King once said, “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” An education is something that many people take for granted in the United States, but across the world, there are millions of children with no access to schooling.

When I was a child in Turkey, I dreamed of being able to go to university. My father worked hard to make sure that my sisters and I were able to further our education as far as we wanted. He’s not here now to see that I immigrated to the United States and am working as a CPA at one of the largest CPA firms in the world, but I know that he would be proud of me. I would not have been able to come this far without his hard work, and now that this opportunity has arisen, my dream is to honor his legacy by giving these African children the same invaluable opportunity that my father gave me: education.

My dream is to open a school in Africa. If my proposal is chosen, Pencils of Promise could use the $10,000 award to help me reach my goal of raising $25,000 by the end of 2016, as a Pencils of Promise classroom costs approximately $10,000, and a school costs $25,000. The final amount I aim to raise will build a school that will be dedicated to my late father and father-in-law. I know that this would honor their memory in a way in which they would both be proud. The nine days of paid time off will allow our family to travel to Africa to open the school.

One of the reasons I chose Pencils of Promise is its proven record of success. Since its inception, Pencils of Promise has built 320 schools, and has served over 30,000 students.With a success rate of 100%, every school that they have opened thus far is fully operational and educating students daily.

I can imagine the joy lighting up the students’ faces, and I think that will be one of the most rewarding moments of my life. I have always known that the purpose of my life is to create a lasting impact on the world, and I can think of no other way than to give the opportunity of an education.

Something that really struck me about Pencils of Promise is the alignment to the same standards that we value at RSM. Just as respect is so important at RSM, Pencils of Promise upholds the respect of the communities that they help by employing leaders from the country in which the school is built.

Pencils of Promise also employs the same level of integrity as RSM by making it clear where every cent of a donation goes. By covering their operational costs through private donors, events and companies, 100% of every dollar donated online goes directly into programs to educate more children, and 85% of every dollar total goes to programs.

The results have been successful. In 2014, Pencils of Promise’s Guatemalan second grade students showed 33% more proficiency in early literacy skills than their peers, and 40% are more literate than their peers. In 2015, 98% of teachers report increases in student focus due to a new Pencils of Promise building. Also this year, Ghana’s teachers and students both reported that students with e-readers are reading twice as much as before.

Pencils of Promise’s founder, Adam Braun, started the foundation with $25. In 2014, he told Forbes that his background in high finance was a contributing factor in Pencils of Promise’s success: “As much as I’m a passion-driven person, my background helped immensely because I’m now an entrepreneur that filters every decision through the question, ‘Will this provide long-term ROI?’ I always wanted to build an organization with the head of a great business and the heart of a humanitarian idealist. I believe that’s what Pencils of Promise has become.”

I believe that Pencils of Promise’s background in finance is what makes it so successful, and able to help so many children receive an education. It is unusual that a non-profit takes what Braun calls a “for- purpose” stance, and it’s that kind of practicality that is truly making a difference in the lives of these children.What might have just been a pipe dream has become a solid success because of hard work and smart thinking, principles that will indubitably be taught to the children that are now able to attend these schools.

Entrepreneur reports that, “before he launched Pencils of Promise, Braun worked for management consultancy Bain & Company and before that, he worked in finance. His experience guided the way he set up his nonprofit. ‘I saw this level of business efficiency and accountability that often times does not translate into the nonprofit space, because people don’t hold nonprofits accountable to those same standards,’ says Braun. ‘I wanted to run an organization that was run with business efficiency at the core.’”

Pencils of Promise doesn’t just build a school and move on, they monitor and evaluate every project that they undertake. Its life changing for so many children whose only reality is one of begging to survive. If you award the $10,000 to my dream, I know that RSM and I can make a lasting difference in the world. These children are our world's future - let's give them one to look forward to.

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