Winning Tastemaker: Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise

Winning Tastemaker: Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise
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In 2011, Starbucks and StyleCaster set out to find a Future Tastemaker – a creative force with a sense of social good and business savvy to spare. Over a month-long contest, our readers decided on Adam Braun, the founder of Pencils of Promise, an institute dedicated to building schools in impoverished areas of the world.

Less than three years ago, I was invited to the NY Philharmonic. As I sat in the audience mesmerized by the cacophony of sounds that somehow came together to form the beautiful movements, my brain started to percolate with ideas.

I recognized the power that the instruments created together, but it was only when each performer left the stage and a single large man sat in front of a piano that I was inspired by a single tastemaker to set forward on my own path.

He quietly sat in front of the grand piano, waiting for the room to acknowledge the silence of its withheld breath, and then launched into a 20-minute thundering concerto.

It was while watching him play that a single thought entered my head: “I just want to find something to be as passionate about as he is towards his piano. What is my purpose? What is my passion?”

Within moments, the name “Pencils of Promise” entered my head, and I went home that night to write our charter, mission statement, and any idea I had about how to build one school in the developing world through a collective movement empowering others.

We have now broken ground on 40+ schools. How has this happened? It’s our energy. It’s palpable, real, and tangible. It’s the same energy that piano player possessed at the Philharmonic, which each tastemaker holds in their hands.

Our energy compels us to constantly move forward, to think creatively, and to constantly innovate. Our energy will not allow us to merely plod along-we will progress with an insatiable need to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Through the support of Stylecaster and Starbucks, we are incredibly grateful to empower a future generation of tastemakers around the world.

To read more about our relationship with Starbucks visit

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