The Art of Eating Sushi with Chopsticks while Learning about Transportation Policy!

Posted by | sponsorchange | June 4, 2012 | No Comments

Yes, in case you were wondering, the Karate Kid is not the only person to learn how to use Chopsticks albeit to catch flies and not sushi, but yea… One thing we value at SponsorChange are projects that are diverse, experiential, non-boring, and offer Change Agents an intellectual adventure that involves sushi (seriously considering adding sushi as a core value). Here is our latest Change Agent Whitney Hinds-Coble speaking about the kick-off of her transportation project experience and SUSHI!

In mid-April, Justine Kasznica, the Executive Director of the Innovation Practice Institute at Pitt Law, told me about an amazing opportunity to assist with Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s Transportation Vision Team. I applied for the position and soon I was part of the project. Cliff Levine, an attorney at Cohen & Grigsby, is the chairperson of the Transportation Vision Team. He had reached out to SponsorChange to find a public policy student to help the team both administratively and with research. As a joint-degree student at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Public Policy and Management and Pitt Law, this project felt like a perfect fit for me.

Our first meeting took place in the most interesting environment imaginable. CBS Sunday Morning show filmed Cliff, Chelle Buffone, and I discussing the project at Project Olympus. The show was filming a larger segment on student loan debt and featured SponsorChange as an innovative way to combat the problem! Since this unique first meeting, the project has been moving at lightning speed.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the project for me has been the interesting people with whom I get to work. An impressive team of 38 civic and business leaders has been assembled to provide the County Executive with a report that outlines recommendations for how to improve regional land use, public transit, and the airport. While attending meetings, I have had the opportunity to learn from and work with area contractors, economic development experts, lawyers, etc.

Plus, I have the privilege of working with Chelle Buffone, SponsorChange’s Director of Community Relations, and Cliff, the committee chairperson. Chelle, who is personally interested in transportation policy, has been with me every step of the way providing support, research assistance, and acting as a sounding board. Cliff is a fantastic person to work with – he’s enabled me to see and be involved with the organizational efforts involved with steering a large committee. He’s also careful to ensure that the skills I have developed in my public policy masters program are being utilized for the benefit of the committee. For example, this week, I made a twelve-minute presentation to the Transportation Vision Team on the current situation and potential next steps for improving Pittsburgh International Airport.

Not inconsequentially, Cliff also taught me how to eat sushi with chopsticks. As you can see from this picture, I still have room for improvement!

In conclusion, SponsorChange has enabled me to be part of an important process for the community that I would not have had the chance to be part of otherwise. As someone who solely uses the public bus system for transportation and frequently uses the airport, I have a personal interest in working towards these systems’ improvement. Plus, as a citizen vested in this city, I care deeply that all of my neighbors for whom driving is not an option have a way to get to work, school, church, the grocery store, etc. I am privileged to have the educational opportunities I am receiving, and SponsorChange has provided me with an opportunity to share my skills with the community.

**Stay tuned for more twist and turns as this transportation project kicks into high gear! Pun intended, sadly.

Meet Whitney Hinds-Coble, SponsorChange’s Newest Change Agent!

Posted by | sponsorchange | June 3, 2012 | No Comments

Whitney Coble learned about SponsorChange through her work with the Innovation Practice Institute at University of Pittsburgh School of Law and Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College.  She feels incredibly fortunate that SponsorChange is helping her serve her community using the world-class undergraduate and graduate education she has received.  Because of their sponsorship, she will be able to decrease student loan debt this summer.

Whitney holds bachelors degrees in English and Arts Management from the College of Charleston, where she served as Student Body President. She expects to graduate in May 2014 with joint degrees from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and the School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College.

Whitney and her husband, Brett, hope to contribute to the Pittsburgh community for many years to come.


Posted by | sponsorchange | January 4, 2012 | No Comments


Shawn Agyeman

As America’s watchdog he will help to protect Student Debtors

Pittsburgh, PA— applauds President Obama’s decision today to appoint Richard Cordray as the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) through a recess appointment. President Obama made a bold but necessary move in response to the Senate’s prior obstruction of this highly qualified nominee. Cordray will be the first director of the newly established CFPB, which was created to protect the consumer rights of Americans.

“Cordray’s appointment is a win for the American consumer,” said Raymar Hampshire, Founder and CEO. “ has a base of over 15,000 supporters, many whom have been victims of unfair, deceptive and abusive private lending practices. CFPB, under the leadership of Cordray, will help to crack down on such lenders.”

Dodd-Frank Act established the CFPB with the purpose of protecting American consumers from dishonest lenders, who have lured many borrowers into unfair and faulty mortgages, payday loans, credit cards, and student loans. As the cost of higher education increases, many students are taking on more private student loans, which typically have much higher interests rates, inflexible repayment options, and lack consumer protection.

With a director now in place, the agency can finally do the job it was created to do, and that involves enforcement efforts to mitigate unfair, deceptive and abusive practices in the student lending business. The agency also will provide resources to better educate student borrowers so they can make better informed financial decisions.

Hampshire added, “We at will continue to educate students on managing their student debt and look forward to working with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help improve the lives of America’s student debtors.”

###—An online platform that builds capacity of social enterprises by matching them to college students and graduates, who perform skill-based projects and are rewarded student loan pay through crowd-funding of sponsors. For more information on, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

Helping those who give back, pay back: MBA Student Uses Skills to Support Social Enterprise

Posted by | Chelle | August 29, 2011 | No Comments

Hello There Everyone!

I’m so excited to share with you this update from our Summer Change Agent, CMU’s Tepper School of Business student Jason Doran. We can’t wait to see the economic ripple effect of your work in our community. Way to go Jason!  Keep up the great work.

Hollymead Capital is an exciting new kind of investment firm that pairs both private investment dollars and with government funding to build community-based social enterprises.  The enterprises on which the firm is focused address fundamental social needs in: Food, Energy, Housing, Health, and the Environment.   Hollymead works with Non-profits, Governments, Associations, For-profit enterprises, and Foundations.

Similar to a private equity firm, the firm pools private investment dollars from investors and seeks to develop, manage and successfully transfer ownership of the enterprises in which they invest.  But the firm differs primarily in two ways.  First, the exit strategy is not IPO or selling the firm off, rather it seeks to develop the enterprise until it is able to stand on its own, support its own management team and continue to grow and achieve success into the future.   Second, the firm co-funds its investments with government dollars, which are supplied by local and state government programs designed to develop regional community social enterprises.

The Hollymead business model is the first investment firm to actively co-invest public and private dollars in enterprises, while at the same time offering private investors attractive investment opportunities.  At this time, the firm is focused on the greater Pittsburgh.

Hollymead’s first venture, Republic Food Enterprise Center, is essentially a food-processing plant and kitchen tha

t sources raw materials from local farmers and then creates finished food goods for distribution through retail channels, including regionally-located grocery stores and gas stations.

My contacts at Hollymead have both been directors, and they have been great to work with.

First venture is personally relevant to me

As someone who values locally produced food for its environmental and economic bene

fits, I am especially happy to helping Hollymead with their first venture.   Specifically, I am building a financial model that the firm will use to forecast earnings and investment returns based on expected sales and costs figures.  It has so far been an amazing opportunity to learn about a new kind of business and first-of-its-kind investment model.


SponsorChange gives us experienced business professionals the opportunity to give back to our communities by using our business skills.  It feels good to know that our business skills can be used to develop not only economically sustainable businesses but also socially-responsible, community-focused businesses that improve the lives of people in under-served local economies.  Overall, I think SponsorChange gives us business guys the ability to affect the kind in underserved communities and economies that we otherwise would not be able to.

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