PENCIL is Mightier Than the Sword

Posted by Sahar Javedani On September - 13 - 2011

Flipping through an issue of Crain’s Business Journal earlier this summer, I was excited to read of President and CEO of JetBlue Airways Dave Barger’s appointment as the new Chair of the Board of Directors for PENCIL, one of New York City’s leading nonprofits focused on improving public education through partnerships with local businesses.

After doing some preliminary research and discovering this brief but impactful YouTube clip of a PENCIL campaign, I was hooked!

“I can do anything! I can be anything! I am a success!” Hearing these words come from an auditorium of young African-American students participating in the simple ritual of tying on a tie inspired me.

Look at our future empowered leaders! How can we help them achieve their personal and professional goals? What does PENCIL do exactly?

I called Gayle Villani, PENCIL’s Vice President of Programs to find out.

The two programs that focus specifically on job training/career-readiness for youth are The PENCIL Partnership Program and The PENCIL Fellows Program.

The PENCIL Partnership Program consists of a comprehensive process of outreach, screenings, and intake; to match local business leaders’ resources and skills with school principals’ needs. A dedicated PENCIL Partnership Coordinator is assigned to help the Partners develop goals, provide guidance, establish workshops, and help track the progress of the partners.

The PENCIL Fellows Program brings Business Mentors into schools to provide job/skills training for New York City students. Partner affiliate, Virtual Enterprises runs a comprehensive classroom-based simulated business curriculum (i.e. resume building, interview techniques, etc.) for job ready New York City public school juniors and seniors. The program includes six-week, paid summer internships that help them take the first step toward entering the creative economy.

In closing; a few words by President of PENCIL Michael Haberman;

“The plight of public education in this country, and in New York City in particular, is a complicated one, with debate raging about teacher tenure, charter schools, budgets, testing standards, and so much else. With principals carrying more weight on their shoulders than ever before, they have been turning to more innovative solutions to meet their challenges, including embarking on partnerships with the private sector. We at PENCIL know public-private partnerships are not the ultimate and only solution to the many challenges facing public education. Forming effective, high-impact public school-private sector partnerships is not easy–they are created literally one school at a time. But we have proven again and again that PENCIL’s model offers a real and proven remedy that is an important part of the solution.”

2 Responses to “PENCIL is Mightier Than the Sword”

  1. PENCIL says:

    Thank you for highlighting PENCIL’s work! With more than 350 Partnerships throughout the five boroughs and in Rochester, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and with nearly 500 Fellows alumni who are better prepared to enter the workforce, we’ve seen the impact that the private sector can have when it gets involved in public education. It’s more than just our future workforce, it’s our future, and the work of our Partners, Business Mentors, and supporters couldn’t be more important. We hope that anyone who is interested in learning more will visit our website, or follow us on twitter (@helpingschools) or Facebook ( Thank you once more, Sahar!

  2. […] ~ Sahar Javedani, Director of Educational Programming at Pentacle and Americans for the Arts – Arts Education Council Member PENCIL says: September 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm […]

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