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.
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
As America’s watchdog he will help to protect Student Debtors
Pittsburgh, PA—SponsorChange.org 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, SponsorChange.org Founder and CEO. “SponsorChange.org 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 SponsorChange.org 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.”
SponsorChange.org—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 SponsorChange.org, please visit www.sponsorchange.org or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.
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.… Read More]]>
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.
SponsorChange has re-partnered with HmCapital Partners LLC to host a change agent this summer. SponsorChange staff will continue to interview candidates for the next 2 weeks. This project will begin July 1st and will require the change agent to… Read More]]>
SponsorChange has re-partnered with HmCapital Partners LLC to host a change agent this summer. SponsorChange staff will continue to interview candidates for the next 2 weeks. This project will begin July 1st and will require the change agent to dedicate 50 hours and for your service we will process a $1000 payment toward the student loan of your choice.
The right candidate for this project should have a solid foundation in excel spreadsheets and in business plan modeling and forecasting. The ideal candidate is someone who has had exposure to accounting principles, business planning and financial modeling. There is a base model already in place so if chosen you will be working from an established template and expected to improve its resilience and its forecasting capabilities.
Interested graduates should email firstname.lastname@example.org with their resume and a paragraph or two on why they think they are right for this position and what the experience would mean to them.
Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College has honored SponsorChange.org with the David Lingren Fellowship for Social Innovation. According to the award website the award provides support to one Heinz College student during the 2010-2011 academic year based… Read More]]>
Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College has honored SponsorChange.org with the David Lingren Fellowship for Social Innovation. According to the award website the award provides support to one Heinz College student during the 2010-2011 academic year based on that student’s skill level and demonstrated commitment to social innovation and/or social entrepreneurship. The total amount of the award is $2,500 to be distributed from September 2011 through May 2012.
The David Lingren Fellowship for Social Innovation will help us and you continue development of SponsorChange.org throughout the academic year…more about that below!
But first let me say as a social entrepreneur I am hardly alone at Heinz College. Innovation is engrained in the DNA of Carnegie Mellon University and Heinz College offers a unique experience for grad students to explore the intersection of public policy and innovation. All students are supported by the Institute for Social Innovation, which is dedicated to providing support for those interested in social innovation.
Several student projects have been started at Heinz College, including Ross Rocketto’s Running to Govern and Brett Wiewiora’s Onlyinpgh, just to name a couple. I am constantly inspired by the brilliance and innovative ideas I hear almost on a daily basis from students at Heinz College!
If you are a current or prospective student who is interested in policy programs that have a strong focus on social innovation check out Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College and their Institute for Social Innovation.
Ok now back to you and here’s the best part…we have decided to use a portion of the reward to provide funded SponsorChange.org projects for current students and graduates of Heinz College!
Projects will include website development, policy research, and strategy. We are also open to self proposed projects. Because our mission is helping people to pay down their loans through service all payment received will go directly to your student loans!
For more information on how to get started email, email@example.com with ” David Lingren Projects”
If you are interested in leveraging this reward through matching funds email, firstname.lastname@example.org with “David Lingren Match”
Looking forward to rewarding your skills and commitment to SponsorChange.org!
The 20-something generation needs to redefine what it means to volunteer. I came to this realization after I conceived of SponsorChange.org, a Pittsburgh nonprofit organization that helps college students repay their school loans… Read More]]>
The 20-something generation needs to redefine what it means to volunteer. I came to this realization after I conceived of SponsorChange.org, a Pittsburgh nonprofit organization that helps college students repay their school loans by volunteering.
Surprisingly, some charitable foundation members strongly criticized the idea, saying, “How could you possibly pay volunteers; you are cheapening service!” Some said, “Who would ever want to pay somebody to volunteer!”
I vividly recall the devastation I felt after leaving these meetings. I was being painted as the bad guy for having the audacity to suggest that volunteers could be financially incentivized to serve, and to suggest that private citizens and corporations might be interested in sponsoring their service. To be fair, these foundation members were only sharing their perspective. Indeed, for decades economist and psychologist have reached very different claims on the notion that financial incentives crowd-out the intrinsic motivation of volunteering. No definitive claims have been reached.
But perhaps these foundation experts overlooked something: We’ve long paid people to volunteer. In fact, if you pay taxes, you support government-sponsored paid volunteers.
For example, Peace Corps and similar government programs refer to their field operatives as volunteers. We don’t question the altruistic nature of Peace Corps volunteers even though their commitment to service is rewarded with a modest living stipend, scholarships for graduate or professional school, special eligibility for some government jobs and other benefits. Such financial incentives often factor into decisions to serve, but we tend to avoid talking about them so as not to seem too individualistic or uncaring.
Apparently, as a society we need to see particular tangible acts of serving to validate a person’s propensity to care. We check the care box when we give large donations. We check the care box when we decide to take a lower-salary job with a nonprofit organization. We check the care box when we freely volunteer.
According to Robert Wuthnow, a sociology professor at Princeton University and author of “Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves,” “Those who are most involved in acts of compassion are no less individualistic than anyone else, and those who are the most intensely individualistic are no less involved in caring for others.”
We need to redefine volunteering. We need to abandon the self-righteousness and elitist notion that volunteering should always be purely altruistic.
It is easier to volunteer solely out of altruism if you come from a place of privilege. But what about the millions of people who care but simply cannot afford to volunteer because they are working multiple jobs just to make the ends meet? Financial incentives can help build pathways to volunteer opportunities. And we should think up even more innovative ones so we can better mobilize our generation’s young leaders to volunteer.
Five Carnegie Mellon University students took up the capstone project for SponsorChange four months ago. There were many questions. How do we take care of the static website? How do we get rid of manual processing? How do… Read More]]>
Five Carnegie Mellon University students took up the capstone project for SponsorChange four months ago. There were many questions. How do we take care of the static website? How do we get rid of manual processing? How do we connect sponsors, students and non-profits seamlessly across United States of America? How better can opportunities be provided to college students to have a positive impact on the community? How better can opportunities be provided for non-profits to leverage the resources? How better can opportunities be provided for sponsors to track where their money is going and how it is spent? We, the five students believe we have the answer.
We overcame the skill gap, the knowledge gap and worked hard to build a state-of-the art website prototype that will enable all the three user entities – sponsors, students and non-profits to register, create, search and connect seamlessly. In an endeavor to achieve CEO Raymar Hampshire’s vision of ’1 million students, 1 million sponsors by 2015′, we ensured that the website is scalable, sustainable and maintainable.
On April 28, 2011, Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College organized the Poster Day to showcase all the academic projects for the academic year. SponsorChange garnered attention and curiosity coupled with excitement and hope. Tim Zak, the associate teaching professor and Director of the Institute for Social Innovation was mighty pleased with the product and vouched to follow SponsorChange very actively in the future. Prof. Chris Labash, co-founder of LinchPin and assistant teaching professor showed great deal of enthusiasm about the potential SponsorChange has. Finally, Dean of Heinz College – Prof. Ramayya Krishnan shared his recommendation and matching algorithms to better match student skills’ with non-profit needs. Students came pouring in to SponsorChange booth, hoping to get answers about how they can clear off their student debt by working for a non-profit project. To summarize, the poster day was a giant leap for SponsorChange to go viral.
As we stand in the final lap, we are excited to give our final academic presentation on May 2, 2011 where we will talk about our journey, challenges and lessons learnt. We will also provide our recommendation to make SponsorChange a truly global phenomenon. Last but not the least, we will launch the alpha website. Thanks for each and everyone of you for making this possible. Be there to see us touch the finish line.
May 2 2011, HBH A202 from 12 PM – 1 PM, Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University.
-Satty on behalf of Team SponsorChange @ CMU.
There is scant data about defaulters, and that needs to change. Furthermore, I want to explore it from a perspective that illuminates the human condition of a defaulter. Let’s build a database with your personal stories. AEM will force policymakers to think about defaulters. The banks are demanding money. While the lenders have disturbing tactics,such as seizing money from people’s bank accounts, they can’t assume ownership of the education and knowledge inside a person’s mind. How can they possibly seize that?
You are living with all that knowledge, but you are also in default. Tell us, what is that like?
If you wish to share your story, please email me (email@example.com)
Cryn Johannsen is the Founder & Executive Director of All Education Matters. She has written for The Huffington Post and The New England Journal of Higher Education, and currently writes for USAToday.
For most parents, I am sure many of them are fretting about sending their kids to school, and wondering how they’ll be able to help them manage tuition (which continues to go up and up and up – oh, well, as long as no one asks why), the cost of living, and so forth. On another note, a friend of mine, who is leaving Korea soon, just let me know that he’s going to grad school in the fall. When I inquired about the school’s whereabouts, he said, “it’s in the U.K. It’s much more affordable than the U.S.” I am glad to hear that he is going to pursue further education but at a much more reasonable price than most schools in the U.S. Any knowledge of the current situation points to how crippled the system has become, at least for student borrowers.
As for the mother I mentioned already, here’s what she had to say in her email that was entitled, “A mixture of happiness and dread:”
Hi Cryn, well my son was just accepted to UC Santa Cruz, his second choice to UC Berkeley. He is an extremely brilliant kid, 19 and a Chem major . . . I am excited yet I am fearful about his future debts to this backwards educational system (future indentured educated citizen). . . Sometimes I wish we would have stayed in Finland where the Universities are virtually free. Anyway, thanks for all your insight and your writings.
I exchanged several emails with this mother, and first replied, “Have you read my piece about ways to minimize student loan debt? I am happy to help you brainstorm on how to avoid accruing too much debt. Obviously, you are aware of the situation, and really that is winning half the battle at this moment. Any awareness is a great thing, because so many are not, and that is what pains me for those who are soon-to-be-students.”
Are you preparing to see your child leave for school? If so, are you concerned about the amount of debt s/he is going to accrue while in school? Are you fearful, like this mother, that your son or daughter will become part of the indentured educated class? Of, do you think your parents are worried about the amount of debt you’re taking on for your schooling?
“Yes, darling! That’s wonderful news! It’s simply wonderful that you are going to school . . . but what about the cost? Oh, darling! Yes! Yes! I am so happy, but . . . I fear . . . I fear that you will become an indentured educated citizen, my dear.”