Advertisement
Image
Credit: Splash News

The Empire State Building will change colors tonight for a good cause.

September 8th is International Literacy Day, and Pencils of Promise, an organization that builds schools and helps communities develop in developing countries, turned the tower yellow to raise awareness for the millions of elementary-school-age children around the world who lack basic reading and writing skills.

They enlisted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Nina Agdal to flip the switch and represent the cause. In honor of the day, all donations made today will be matched by an anonymous donor, doubling the impact of any donation.

“I was fortunate enough to have great schools and helpful teachers, and I wish the same of every other kid,” the Denmark-born model said at the event. “We all need to make sure we do our best to make sure everybody gets that opportunity.”

Agdal insists that learning English in school at age 11 helped her in her career as a model based here in the U.S. “Danish is my first language,” she tells PEOPLE. “The only reason I’m here and able to do this is because of school; I wouldn’t be able to speak English.”

The quality of her teachers, something that Pencils of Promise also cultivates with their work abroad, also contributed to her love of education.

“I just think Danish schools are spectacular,” she says. “[Teachers] put a lot of effort and heart into figuring out how students learn the best. Everybody learns differently; Some kids need to go on a run before they can do anything, others need to learn in groups. I learned a I need to be in a room without any distractions and nobody else around. They made it really personalized, and that’s what really sticks out to me.”

“I strongly believe that education is a human right,” says Agdal. “It’s extremely valuable, no matter where you live in the world.”