About me and how I got started… (updated June 6th, 2020)
Only In Arkansas story
Back in December 2011, I decided it would be fun to start making my own pens instead of buying and buying and buying. I had no clue how much money I would eventually spend on machines, parts, tools and other various little things. I sold every pen I owned that was worth anything to fund this little project and after that money was spent I realized that I wasn’t even close to having all that I needed. So I started a Kickstarter project that, to my surprise and joy, was beyond successful. I asked for $800 and got almost $4300!
At first my goal was to be able to make good quality pens to give to deserving students at the school where I was teaching and others around town. I was already in the habit of buying cheap pens on ebay and giving them to kids who asked, but now I could give them something better. I told all the teachers I worked with and teachers at other local schools to nominate students that they thought were deserving of recognition, and I would make each of them a pen. Pens for kids who had worked extra hard in school; who had gone through some tough times and stuck with it. I made pens for students who deserved a pat on the back.
Later my goal changed to help students with college expenses in the form of scholarships; to pay forward the kindness that had been shown to me when I graduated high school. I began raffling pens off every month to raise money for these scholarships. The first year I raised just over $2000 and was able to give out two $1000 scholarships.
To date (December 2019) we’ve give away $58,084 in scholarships. Recipients write essays which are read and scored by a group of volunteers from around the country. We take the top scoring essays, and after considering other financial aid and resources, award the money to each of these students from all over the country.
Right now we’re raising money through sale of student art notebooks and pen auctions. I hope to continue giving scholarships away every year, to help these kids get their foot in the door to the rest of their lives. I hope for their success and maybe one day one of them will start a scholarship or charity of their own to help others the way they were helped.
Newton Pens Scholarships is now a 501c3 charitable organisation.
Old Kickstarter project linked here — http://kck.st/w37M49
Newton Pens is based out of my home shop near historical downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas. I call it a shop, but it’s more like a glorified laundry room. 🙂