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Meet Davita Verma of Pencils for Success in Alpharetta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Davita Verma.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Davita. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My name is Davita Verma, and I am a junior at Alpharetta High School in Atlanta, Georgia. I am the founder of Pencils for Success, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that collects new and gently used school supplies and donates them to students in need to positively impact their education. I founded Pencils for Success in 2017, following an informative trip to India. While on my trip, I had the opportunity to visit a rural school. There I saw that many students do not have the necessary school supplies needed for their education. They used relatively old supplies, but I saw a passion for learning in their eyes. Their passion for growing their knowledge amazed me: these students had to work jobs to support their families, and like other underprivileged students, they had no idea where their next few meals would come from. I researched the issue further and found that 72 million children around the world lack basic education. I initially did not have the intention to make a nonprofit organization. Still, with feedback and immense support from people in the community, I realized making an organization would give light to the issue to more people in the community.

Pencils for Success is at this point because of the enormous support we have received from our community members. I was honored to be part of the Social Innovators Academy at GivingPoint, where I learned numerous ways to grow Pencils for Success. That is also where I met Sibel Olcal and Rishi Magiawala, both of whom are directors. Together we have grown Pencils for Success, and we can’t wait to see it grow more. The Alpharetta High School FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) has played an integral role in the progress of Pencils for Success. For example, FBLA members have gone to Easterseals to work with their students and witness firsthand how the collected supplies is helping students in need at school. The FBLA members connected with the young students and they can’t wait to go back. The chapter will continue their efforts by holding information sessions explaining the issue that Pencils for Success is aiming to solve at local libraries. Furthermore, Alpharetta FBLA will be having a supply drive in order to collect donations from students. Our local Target and Kroger have given us monetary donations, and we are incredibly grateful for their support in our mission. We have reached out to local elementary, middle, and high schools so we can collect more supplies and help more students.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road. When I first came up with the idea I had people tell me: “It won’t work”, “Don’t waste your time”, and “Students don’t even need supplies; we all have them”. This is something that could have stopped me from growing Pencils for Success, but I used this negativity as fuel for my motivation to help more students. As I grew Pencils for Success more people started to support our mission. The hardest part is not being able to help every student and identifying who needs the supplies the most.

Please tell us about your organization.
Pencils for Success is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that collects new and gently used school supplies and donates them to students in need to positively impact their education. Our specialty is helping students in need; we believe each student has the basic right to an education and each student deserves to have everything he or she needs to have a successful education. We are most proud of seeing young students face smile when they receive packs of supplies. They are genuinely happy and as a team, we are happy to know that the supplies we gave them will motivate them to continue their education.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Success to me is defined as making a difference in fostering an environment to learn by removing obstacles that impede learning. A few of my markers for success are hearing that “We really needed this” or “This will greatly benefit the students”. For example, when I donated at the Foster Care Support System in Roswell, Georgia I walked in with the belief that foster care places have ample donations, but when I talked to the manager of the Foster Care Support System she told me that their students would be so excited to use our supplies during the upcoming school year.

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