PenPal Schools

PenPal Schools provides six-week courses on global issues and connects its students with a partner from around the world to help them understand others' cultures, ideas, and perspectives on these topics. PenPal Schools offers its program on a Pay-What-You-Want basis, allowing those from low-income areas to participate for free.
Print or PDF
Year launched: 
2012
Launch country: 

CEI Plus Status

Program Results Status
Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting
Program Description: 

PenPal Schools believes it is essential to teach students around the world to be global citizens who understand and respect others’ cultures, ideas, and perspectives, regardless of where they come from. To achieve this mission, PenPal Schools has been connecting thousands of students between the ages of 9 and 22 from about 40 countries to help them learn about new cultures, practice foreign languages, and think critically about global issues.

PenPal Schools implements its program in three steps: 

  • Match: The team at PenPal Schools pairs each class with another class from around the world based on students’ age range and the number of students in the class. Each student in these classes is then assigned a PenPal with whom they will communicate throughout the duration of the course (usually three or six weeks). 
  • Learn: Each week, the students log on to PenPal Schools’ web-based app, whether from home or from school, to complete an assignment, which is usually focused on global issues such as poverty, environment, and technology. PenPal Schools provides an original video, attaches a news article, and offers a set of discussion questions on the topic. These modules are aligned with the Common Core Standards and are available in multiple levels of difficulty.
  • Discuss: Students then discuss what they have learned with their PenPals and are encouraged to reflect and comment on what their PenPals write. The students can exchange their perspectives and cultural norms regarding the topics and share personal stories on how these issues have affected their lives

To expand its “global community” and encourage students from all around the world to join, PenPal Schools offers its program on a Pay-What-You-Want basis, which allows teachers from low-income schools and countries to sign up their classes for free. Teachers currently participating in the program pay an average of $1.50 to $2.00 per student, using funding from their schools, from fundraisers, or from their own pockets. 

Highlighting Innovation: 
The program encourages international connections between students by making them fun, easy, and highly educational; the app also makes it easy for teachers from schools of all types and financial situations to connect their classes.