Pennies for Peace™

By Christine McNew

IntroductionPennies for Peace

How can teens learn that they really can make a difference in the world and truly learn to appreciate their education as a privilege? By participating in Pennies for Peace™ campaigns and joining a global community dedicated to building schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pennies for Peace™ originated with humanitarian, adventurer, author, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Greg Mortenson. His Three Cups book series teaches all of us that we can make a difference and change the world. Three Cups of Tea is unique in that it offers an adult version, a Young Reader's Edition and a book for young children, Listen to the Wind, so that the whole family can read and share Dr. Greg's story and lessons together, and be "On the Same Page."

          Listen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson: Book Cover

Libraries may join the Pennies for Peace™ service-learning program by registering online at Participating libraries collect pennies throughout the summer of 2011. At the conclusion of the summer, libraries send their donations via check or money order directly to Pennies for Peace™. Pennies for Peace is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization will provide receipts to donors upon request.

Pennies for Peace™ began at Westside Elementary School in River Falls, Wisconsin in 1994 when students collected 62,340 pennies through their own initiative to help Mr. Mortenson build his very first school in Pakistan. To read more about the program, visit the Pennies for Peace™ web site at

Charitable campaigns are vehicles for libraries to form strong state, local, and national partnerships, and they build good will toward libraries. Libraries may choose to host charitable campaigns for Pennies for Peace or for another cause.

Program Length

Libraries may select a few activities listed below and host 45-minute to one-hour programs for teens, or host a 4-6 hour Pennies for Peace™ convention featuring many activity stations throughout the library.

Community Partners

Invite local businesses to co-sponsor your library's Pennies for Peace™ campaign and programs. Partners might place posters, flyers, or collection jars at their business locations, or donate funds for food, books, or other items. Add the names or logos of your community partners to your flyers, posters, and press releases.

Books to Share or Booktalk

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan Roth
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Three Cups of Tea: Young Reader's Edition by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin


Show the teens "The Story" video (6 or 12 minute version) on the Pennies for Peace™ web site at and lead them in a discussion about Pennies for Peace™. Invite the teens to help plan and promote your library's Pennies for Peace™ Campaign.


Serve sweet or mango lassi tea and chapatti. Chapatti is a flatbread from Pakistan, India and surrounding countries. Purchase it at a local store or restaurant or make if from this recipe is from at Recipes for Lassi tea are on the web site at

Collection Jar

Print several 6.5" X 5.5" or 11" X 8.5" labels from the Pennies for Peace™ web site at Let the teens affix the label to large jars for collecting pennies. Place them at the reference or circulation desk, or in the teen and children's sections of the library. Bring extra jars and let each teen affix a label and take a collection jar home.

Rolls of Pennies

If you plan to bring rolls for the pennies to the bank and convert them to cashier's checks to send to the Pennies for Peace™ organization, let teens help count and roll the pennies.


Give the teens poster board to make a large thermometer. Let teens mark the thermometer weekly to indicate the amount of pennies donated (in thousands).


Let teens print color photos from the Pennies for Peace™ web site at and mount them for a display. Surround the photos with Greg Mortenson's books and books for children and teens on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Place the thermometer next to the display.

Let teens create a word cloud to add to the display at First, let them select words that most represent Pennies for Peace™. The clouds give greater prominence to words that are added more frequently. Teens can tweak the clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. Let the teens print their word clouds, add them to the display, and display them throughout the library.

Promotional Activities

Note: Get a signed permission form from parents of minors before displaying photos of teens in print or electronically.


Let the teens create flyers to promote the Pennies for Peace™ Campaign using Publisher or another graphics program and graphics from the Pennies for Peace™ web site. Ask them to post them in the library and in community locations where teens and families gather.

Press Release

Show the teens examples of press releases. Give them a list of pertinent information about the Pennies for Peace™ Campaign and let them write a press release to send to community newspapers.

The Pennies for Peace™ organization provides a Template for a Press Release in their toolkit at It is designed specifically to help schools promote their campaigns. These may serve as models for the teens.

Video Book Review

Using a video camcorder or a flip video camcorder, let the teens prepare a video booktalk about Listen to the Wind or Three Cups of Tea. Upload the video to the library's web site. Alternatively, upload the video to YouTube and add a link to the library web site.

Invite Younger Children to Participate

Invite teens to tell the younger children about the Pennies for Peace™ Campaign at library storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers and programs for elementary school children.

Front Page News

Let children and teens express their hopes for the future of Afghanistan or Pakistan by creating a newspaper. For instructions, see the "Front Page News" program in the 2009 Texas Teens Read! manual at Upload the teen's newspaper onto the library's web site.

Animoto Video

Let the teens make an Animoto video using photos of children from Pakistan and Afghanistan on the Pennies for Peace™ web site at For music, they might use the song, "Three Cups of Tea" by Jake Fleming. Link the video to the library web site.

Sign Language

Teach the teens the song,"Three Cups of Tea" by Jake Fleming in sign language.

Climbing Wall

Work with the parks and recreation department, school district, or sporting supply store to set up a portable climbing wall at the library or in the parking lot. Invite skilled staff from these organizations to show teens how to climb. There are generally different levels of difficulty.

Guest Presenters

Invite a climber to talk about mountain climbing, especially climbing K2.

Invite a representative from a store such as Whole Earth Provision Company or a sporting goods store to bring mountain climbing equipment and show a video on mountain climbing.

Invite someone who has lived in or visited Pakistan or Afghanistan to talk about the culture and terrain.

Contact a local affiliate of the American Institute of Architects and invite an architect to talk to teens about building schools in developing countries.


Design a School Building

Teens read "How to Build a School Building in Developing Countries" at Teens form groups that decide upon the Space, Situation, Lighting, Services and Infrastructure, Building Materials, Walls, Roof, and Maintenance, and then discuss their plan to build the school.

Folklore of Pakistan

Folktales of Pakistan

Pakistani Folklore

YouTube Videos

UNICEF: Stability through Education for Pakistan's children

Education, Leadership, and Pakistan - What can we do? (Build 1000 schools with dividend paying stocks for 1000 students)

School Kids in Pakistan Hit the Band!

Web Sites

Pakistani Pop Music

Pakistan Picture Gallery

Images of Pakistan

Professional Resources

Web sites

Pennies for Peace™ Toolkit for Grades 9-12

Shohomish, WA School District - Pennies for Peace™ FAQ


Service Learning: You Can Make a Difference (21 minutes)

Texas Teens Read 2011! Programming Manual / Going Global, Staying Connected!
Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: August 15, 2011