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Warby Parker’s New Eyeglasses Support Pencils of Promise

Words by Leon Kaye

The one-for-one social enterprise model has had its successes and shortcomings, but one organization that has enjoyed continuous success is Warby Parker. The eyeglass company’s buy a pair, give a pair mission has at a minimum benefitted 85,000 to people in need around the world, and that figure does not include the training and mentorship that Warby Parker has offered to entrepreneurs to help them set up their own businesses.

Warby Parker branched out and released a new eyeglass fashion line that boosts an up-and-coming nonprofit focused on the construction of schools and offers educational opportunities in three countries. Starting today, Warby Parker will sell limited edition eyeglass frames that will raise funds for Pencils of Promise.

Since its founding in 2008, Pencils of Promise (POP) has broken ground on 50 schools in Laos, Nicaragua and Guatemala. According to POP’s most recent annual report, the nonprofit’s involvement in building schools, libraries, dormitories, community learning centers and bathrooms has, in turn, served over 4,000 students. Those projects together have had an impact on at least 38,000 lives, and the 275,000 volunteer hours tallied so far have led to 1.3 million hours of instructional time. Contributions also topped $1 million for the first time last year. By the end of 2012, the number of schools will reach 100.

Now the purchase of eyeglasses will help POP reach that goal. Warby Parker will contribute to POP’s efforts by contributing $30 for every $95 pair of frames purchased. The frames, which Warby Parker’s designers crafted to pay homage to the traditional yellow pencil, will also follow the company’s policy: for every pair a customer purchases, the company will send a pair to a person in need. With only 31 more schools left in order for POP to hit that metric, the honey and charcoal colored frames could be the lift needed in order to expand education programs in regions where they are desperately needed. Perhaps this model should be called “buy one, give two,” as this Warby Parker-Pencils of Profit partnership meets a couple of very important needs.

Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable BusinessInhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon on Twitter.

Image courtesy Warby Parker.

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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