In December 2005, Robin Mednick created “Pencils for Kids” after she heard the news that 30 children were sharing one pencil in a classroom in a small community called Liboré in Niger, West Africa. Robin felt compelled to act and gathered a handful of Torontonians together to try and make a difference.

Pencils for Kids

A short time after, Robin approached Ian Chalmers to inquire if Pivot would consider helping Pencils for Kids with their design, communications and website. Ian agreed and asked if he could also be a member of the Pencils for Kids team, because he too wanted to be a part of this great initiative. Five years later, Pencils for Kids is a Canadian registered charity run entirely by volunteers; only 3% of the funds we raise go to administrative expenses. At Pivot, we are very proud to be part of the Pencils for Kids website repositioning campaign and to play our part in sustaining resources for this organization’s engagement with the children and educators of Liboré.

Prior to the launch of the site, we asked secondary school students in Liboré questions about what is important to them. This is what we learned:

Que voulez-vous être quand vous serez grand ?
What would you like to be when you grow up?

When I grow up, I want to be the President of the Republic.
When I grow up, I want to be a doctor.
When I grow up, I want to be a nurse
When I grow up, I want to be an accountant.

Si vous pourriez dire quelque chose à chacun autour do monde, queserit-il?
If you could say something to everyone around the world, what would it be?

If I could say something to each person, it would be to study more.

Que signifie ècole pour vous ?
What does school represent for you?

For me, school means a place for a future.

Que feriez-vous si vous étiez donné $100?
What would you do if you were given $100?

If I am given $100, I’ll help students and the poor.
If I am given $100, I would buy school supplies with it.

Pencils for Kids

Over the past few years, here are some of the projects we have completed with Pencils for Kids:

  • Built three schools in Liboré
  • Built the community’s first library
  • Started a sewing centre for girls
  • Pen paled children from schools in Toronto to schools in Liboré
  • Sponsored eight kindergartens
  • Started a mobile library to the remote villages
  • Sent over 10,000 pounds of school supplies
  • Partnered with Rotary to drill wells, Project Play to start a soccer program
  • Piloting the first Farmers of the Future program to grow African Market Gardens adjacent to primary schools and teach children that agriculture can be conducted as a business not merely as a means to subsist
  • Initiated Scholarships for Girls in secondary school to give them the extra tutoring they need to succeed
  • Started Scholarships for Orphan Girls in middle school to give them an opportunity to advance

“We could not have done any of this without the help of Ian and his wonderful team,” says Pencils founder Robin Mednick. “They have built for us a brand new website that answers all of the questions our visitors and constituents had asked. With a view not only to `design’ but to `functionality,’ Pivot created a site that is informative, easily navigated and engaging.

“The feedback has been tremendous and the donations and requests to our site have risen dramatically. I love the term ‘informed design’ because it truly reflects what Pivot has done for Pencils for Kids — they have taken the time to create a concept based on the real needs and real issues that we face and they have transformed this concept into a workable, usable and attractive product. Our heartfelt thanks go out to Pivot Design Group for sharing our vision, understanding our mission, and conveying it eloquently to others.”

The launch of the Pencils for Kids website brings new hope for the children in Liboré and we hope that Robin and her team can continue to inspire others to do good work. For more information on Pencils for Kids please visit them at:

Sharpen the minds of the future.


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