Greenwich Teen Gives Back for Her Sweet 16th Birthday

Shes 16 going on 25.

$25,000 that is.

Right before her 16th birthday, Courtney Smith, a student at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, made a goal to help solve the global education crisis by raising funds to build an entire school.

Courtney Smith has raised over $20,000 towards her goal.

Courtney Smith has raised over $20,000 towards her goal.

I created my goal of $25,000 in the spring, which was right before my Sweet 16 in June,” Smith said. I decided that using my birthday would be a great way to raise awareness and raise funds for Pencils of Promise. Instead of asking for gifts, I asked for donations.” 

Teaming up with the Sportsplex of Stamford, Smith raised $2,100 last Saturday in an afternoon of health where a video spin class was given to donors, followed by a zumba class.

She now has raised over $20,000 towards her goal. 

Pencils of Promise is a non-profit organization that helps to build schools with top-notch education programs in impoverished areas of the world.

Motivated by Pencils of Promise founder and Greenwich native Adam Brauns book “The Promise of a Pencil,” Smith wanted to make a difference and hasn’t looked back since. Braun had graduated magna cum laude from Brown and gone to work for the consulting powerhouse Bain & Co.—but then left his lucrative career when he heard a different calling.

After reading his book, I knew that Pencils of Promise was something I had to be a part of, and immediately created a fundraising page, Smith said. My mom is a teacher, so education has always been a major part of my life. My parents have always supported my academic endeavors and have taught my sister and me that education is the basis for success.

Courtney Smith teamed up with Felicia Gaglio of Sportsplex of Stamford to raise money for a special cause.

Courtney Smith teamed up with Felicia Gaglio of Sportsplex of Stamford to raise money for a special cause.

It’s not that I didn’t always appreciate the incredible education I had received all my life, but Adam Braun’s book really opened my eyes to the impact an education can have on the life of a single child.”

Since her 16th birthday in June, Smith has raised funds through babysitting, working birthday parties, baking and catering cookies, hosting a school bake sale and running a 5K with a friend.

Smith says Saturdays event was her largest, and most successful fundraiser so far.

A ton of my friends came to support and a few people who just happened to be at the gym that afternoon joined in and donated as well, Smith said. Also, on Saturday, Zen Bronze donated free spray tans to students which was such a great way to get teenagers involved!”

Since PoP launched in 2008, more than 300 schools have been built, serving more than 30,000 students.

By donating her birthday to a generous cause, Smith hopes to reach her goal of $25,000 soon and hopes to host more fundraisers along the way.

I saw a complete outpouring of generosity and support right off the bat. From old teachers, to friends and family, the donations kept coming!

Courtney’s fundraiser page can be reached at 

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