TACOMA, Washington — Jonathan Smith, more commonly referred to by his alias “Lil Jon,” is largely known for his successful rap career. Lil Jon helps to address global poverty through his support for quality education in developing countries. His commitment to quality education around the world has been ongoing since his partnership with Pencils of Promise in 2011. Lil Jon summed up his reasoning by stating, “I don’t think kids should be deprived of an education. If you look at what’s going on in the world today, you can see how, even more so, education is important.”
Lil Jon’s Pencils of Promise Partnership
Since his focus is on strengthening educational opportunities around the world, it makes sense that Lil Jon partnered with Pencils of Promise. The nonprofit organization has made its mission to bring quality education access to global communities that need it most. Pencils of Promise explains how a lack of education contributes to poverty by creating familial economic instability and infrastructure challenges.
Pencils of Promise has outlined the issue, its approach and its results, to paint a clear picture of why quality education is crucial.
- Issue: Up to 75% of children living in extreme poverty conditions cannot read a single word. Pencils of Promise explains that when 250 million children (globally) do not learn the basic skills traditionally developed in school, it is the equivalent of the United States losing an estimated $129 billion per year.
- Approach: Pencils of Promise develops programs geared toward quality school construction, teacher support, water, sanitation and hygiene education. The organization’s learning and evaluation teams conduct assessments to track the effectiveness of its programs and to adjust it as needed for optimal educational success.
- Results: To date, the organization has built 535 schools in Ghana, impacted 110,380 students in Laos and supported 2,165 teachers in Guatemala.
Lil Jon’s Fundraising Efforts
After attending one of Pencils of Promise’s galas, Lil Jon decided to launch his own fundraising campaign for the nonprofit organization. He set a goal of $70,000, which he has since surpassed and increased to $100,000. His fundraising strategy doubled as a birthday and matching gift campaign. He pledged to match all donations up to $40,000, with 100% of proceeds going toward Pencils of Promise’s school building efforts. Additionally, those who donated substantial amounts were invited to exclusive VIP experiences with Lil Jon.
While these reward options are no longer available, Lil Jon’s fundraising page is still active and each donation option explains how many children will be ensured “everything they need for a quality education: a safe classroom, an inspired teacher and access to basic bathrooms and clean drinking water.”
Lil Jon’s Humanitarian Impact
The $70,000 Lil Jon originally raised helped to build two schools in Ghana. If he is able to raise an additional $30,000, he plans to use it for teacher support and access to bathrooms and clean drinking water. As Lil Jon takes humanitarian steps toward improving education in developing countries, he subsequently helps give children around the world an opportunity to fight poverty through quality education. Lil Jon helps improve education and poverty simultaneously. In the words of Lil Jon himself, “You never know who our future leaders are going to be, who is going to create the next technology to change our world.”
– Sage Ahrens-Nichols