April 29, 2009

P2P Lending Shows Big Banks Where The Love Is

A few years ago some west coast techies sang Cumbia and came up with the idea to bring together lenders and borrowers without the insidious over-lording of a big bank by using the internet.

All things progressive went into the idea, no double-dealing middleman, no high interest rates, no big down payments, and (best of all), no dead behind the eyes businessmen. Nope, the point with Person to Person lending was to reintroduce the social aspect back into financial transactions by linking together friends, family, and people of a generally similar mindset so that they could tell their story, give a little and get a little.

Well, when Person to Person (P2P) lending debuted it was seen as a somewhat far out idea by gushy liberal progressives who had no idea how ‘serious’ financing worked. But, to their consternation, P2P lending has only become steadily more mainstream.

In fact, the recent death rattle of the big banks and ensuing credit crunch, has driven average non-far out people to look at P2P lending as a viable credit alternative and has even become a form of protest over the bailout-hoarding behavior of the banks who were supposed to continue lending at pre-crunch rates (no sir, can’t give up my company Concord).

Although some companies have come under scrutiny by the SEC for not registering (a technicality), other websites like Lending Club are still going strong. These websites run by different models, friends and family or Marketplace, which both put strong emphasis on the personal story of the buyer.

Recently, P2P lending has branched out into even more groovy niches. In 2007, the website GreenNote.com, setup an online P2P platform to link college students with their friends and family via Facebook so that those invested in the student’s future can contribute to his/her college education at a low interest rate.

P2P lending was also picked up in 2005 by the famous Nobel-prize winning micro-financing juggernaut Grameen Bank to create their website Kiva.org. Kiva links lenders in developed countries with borrowers in the developing world. Small loans (average $25) are contributed until the lender reaches his/her stated goal and transmitted via PayPal to a microfinance lending institution (MFI) in the borrower’s country. The MFI coordinates the distribution and repayment of the loan while the lender gets to see their money put to good use by deserving people thousands of miles away.

The rumblings of a little revolution can be heard with the increasing kineticism of P2P lending. It has limitless implications, one of which could be the undermining of the insidious corporatization of western culture, pulling one more Jenga piece out of the bottom of its precarious tower of greed and deceit, and making it, if not obsolete, at least aware that we the people can take back power.

Check out this video from Kiva.org

What do you think are some other implications for P2P lending to affect social change?

This post was written by Leah Bush, a freelance writer, volunteer blogger for Make Social Change A Reality, and aspiring Guru whose past involvement includes the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Recovery Project and volunteerism in Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Questions regarding this post may be forwarded to ultraEchelon@gmail.com.

April 27, 2009

Educating is OUR Collective Job

This post was written by Matthew Reid, volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. A native New Yorker, Matthew now lives in Boston and works for a math curriculum development company.

I was a teacher for 5 years. Prior to teaching, I worked for a non-profit organization where we provided scholarships for students to attend college. And even before that position, after high school and through college, I was a summer camp counselor and volunteer/organizer for an after school tutoring program. I enjoy working with youth and feel that it is my responsibility to pass on knowledge that I have to others.

Recently in the news, there have been many ideas floating around about how to “reform” the public education system and what is necessary. President Obama said education was going to be one of his top priorities to address and “fix” the problem of both teacher recruitment and student performance.

Now as a former teacher, I support the need to recruit better teachers, obviously pay them a living/competitive wage and put more responsibility on parents to be accountable for their child’s learning. However, once everyone (politicians, parents, community leaders, etc.) are done saying what they have to say for the cameras, they’re gone and the responsibility to educate the youth of America relies entirely on the teacher.

It IS the responsibility of the teacher to input knowledge and information to each student, however, it is NOT ONLY their responsibility. The community is also responsible. If a child is out on a school night past 9pm, where are the people in the community to tell that child, “go home, get some sleep and make sure your homework is done”? Is that not the socially responsible thing to do?

When I was growing up, I was very fortunate to have both of my parents to make sure my schoolwork was done. But they also made sure that I wasn’t hanging out on the stoop on a school night. They watched who I was friends with and reminded me where my priorities were when it came to schoolwork.

The idea that “it takes a village to raise a child” unfortunately is not often the case anymore. Neighborhoods are stretched and constantly in flux, and the idea of community is harder to come by. However, the stress of raising children to be professionals cannot lie solely on the teacher.

The community needs to come together and demand more of themselves to help educate these children and support them in their education. Who knows, maybe if they are successful, the youth will then in turn do the same thing in the future and our communities will be stronger for it.

What are some ways you can get involved with the youth of your community?

April 22, 2009

Going Barefoot for National Volunteer Week: A Twelve Year Old in Action

Bilaal Rajan, twelve year old author, fundraiser and UNICEF Children’s Ambassador is going barefoot for National Volunteer Week to raise awareness about global child poverty. What's his goal?

“...to inspire one million children to take action and help create a more peaceful and caring world. I want kids to find their passion, get involved and make a difference in the lives of others.”

Learn more about this inspiring twelve year old, the Barefoot Campaign, or purchase his manual, Making Change: Tips from an Underage Overachiever, at www.makingchangenow.com.

You can also see a video on YouTube about this initiative from Rajan himself.

Will you join Rajan and go barefoot this week to help raise awareness for less privileged children around the world? Have other plans to celebrate National Volunteer Week? Feel free to share stories about your National Volunteer Week celebrations in the comments.

This post was written by Chanelle Carver, acting Editor for Make Social Change A Reality and Executive Director of the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project.

April 21, 2009

Increasing the Number of Volunteer Opportunities for NYC Residents

On April 20, 2009, Mayor Bloomberg launched NYC Service - a program to increase volunteer opportunities for the residents of New York City including youth enrolled in K-12 schools. (press release).

While I no longer live in New York City, I travel to the area for work and social events (or just to hang out with friends and family) so I was wicked excited to hear about this new initiative. While many may have not-so-nice things to say about Mayor Bloomberg's leadership or policy that should not deter us from recognizing the excellent work he is doing for the community. Even if it wasn't his idea, the city needs his leadership to move it forward. After all, he is mayor!

Here's a video of the kick off event in Washington Heights. For more information, call 3-1-1 or visit the NYC.gov website.

This post was written by Chanelle Carver, acting Editor for Make Social Change A Reality and Executive Director of the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project.

It's National Volunteer Week!

It’s National Volunteer Week and this year’s theme is Celebrating People in Action.

This week is about recognizing all of you who volunteer with your local nonprofit, who organize voter registration drives and serve food to the homeless. It's about all of you that strive to Make Social Change A Reality.

Every year, organizations around the country take this week to thank their volunteers and show the community just how much they value a volunteer’s time and contribution. Without them, the nonprofit sector as it is today would not survive.

So we'd like to take a moment to thank all of the people behind the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project and Make Social Change A Reality. Our volunteers live in all parts of the country and donate countless hours of their time, skills and knowledge to help us fulfill our mission. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

We'd also like to thank our readers for being socially conscious and following our blog. It takes many to make social change a reality and just by participating in the dialogue you are making a difference.

Learn More
Take a look on the Energize, Inc. website for some ideas on recognizing and rewarding volunteers during National Volunteer Week.

And in case you’re interested, read up on Volunteer’s Week, a national celebration in the UK for volunteers and volunteering that takes places every June 1 to 7.

Your Thoughts?
Do you have an idea about how nonprofits can recognize and reward volunteers? Share them with our readers in the comments section.

April 14, 2009

From Laziness to Goodness

Naturally, when I saw this title "Lazy Altruism: 6 Super-Easy Ways to Do Good and Help Others", I was intrigued to read the blog post.

After all, it's not too often you see the words lazy and do good in the same sentence. And less often does being lazy result in a positive outcome. Well, not if you're a lazy altruist.

After hearing by President Barack Obama's Call to Action for Americans to volunteer more, an Intent.com blogger was inspired to create this short list for "wide-eyed volunteer newbies...to dip your feet into the wonderful world of altruistic love" which include donating your hair and playing Internet trivia.

Do you consider "lazy altruism" a method of volunteering?

This post was written by Chanelle Carver, acting Editor for Make Social Change A Reality and Executive Director of the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project.

April 13, 2009

Could you be our next volunteer Blog Editor?

For the past year and a half, Make Social Change A Reality has focused on bringing awareness to social issues like adult literacy and education reform, poverty alleviation, and healthcare. But our goal is to do more than talk because as they say, talk is cheap.

This blog aims to empower people to take action for social change. We aim not just to discuss social issues but also to create a community that actively participates in that dialogue sharing ideas and resources that can help each of us make social change a reality in our own unique way.

Recent posts go into more detail about how you can make change, for example, through online volunteering, leading development efforts in your community, and advocating for women's economic justice. And now, we're looking to add to our team! For all you bloggers out there, consider joining Make Social Change A Reality's team by becoming our Volunteer Editor.

A Call to Volunteer!

We need a tech savvy, intelligent, and entrepreneurial person to join the team and help us take this blog to the next level, to reach more readers, to continue helping others make social change a reality. This is a virtual volunteer opportunity for no more than 15 hours per month. We are looking to build a relationship with our new Editor and prefer someone that can commit to working with us for the next six months. The Editor will:
  • Brainstorm and assign post topics with volunteer bloggers
  • Review and edit submissions from volunteers and guest bloggers
  • Approve all blog posts before publishing
  • Attend biweekly progress report conference calls with the Executive Director
S/he should have the following qualifications, at a minimum:
  • Passion for social change
  • Self-motivated and comfortable working independently
  • Previous blog writing and editing experience
  • Familiarity with Blogger/Blogspot and intermediate to expert knowledge of SEO, keyword research, optimizing blogs, and other content related issues
  • A track record of meeting deadlines and "getting the job done"
  • Excellent written communications skills
This is an opportunity to help further a cause and even learn new skills. If you are looking to get involved and possibly add some interesting experience to your resume, then don't hesitate to apply.

How to Apply?
In an effort to find the best possible volunteer for this role, we are EXTENDING the deadline to May 30, 2009. If you are interested in volunteering, please send an email telling us more about your experience, why you want to volunteer and links to any blog posts you've written or blogs edit/managed to volunteer@literacyandpovertyproject.com.