Friday, November 25, 2011

A Quarter is More Than Just a Fraction

Arapahoe, as you know, puts our collective might behind several causes throughout the year. Currently we are asking students and staff to bring in a toy for Toys for Tots. I encourage you to participate in that, not just by bringing in a toy, but also attending the wrapping party and going to Alice Terry Elementary on December 14th to help distribute the toys.

But I also want you to think more globally in this class. If you happened to read my blog over Thanksgiving break, then you read about Kiva and Team Shift Happens. Here’s a brief description of Kiva:
Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.
And here’s part of what I wrote on my blog about Team Shift Happens:
I lend $25 to an entrepreneur ($25 is the minimum they accept). But I also purchase two $25 gift certificates that I then email to two members of my PLN. I’m asking those folks to then do two things.

First, they can choose which entrepreneur to loan the $25 to. Then I’m asking them to consider doing the same thing – purchasing two $25 gift certificates and emailing them to two members of their PLN (with the same request that those folks continue the cycle, sending two Kiva gift certificates to folks in their network - a Kiva Pay It Forward plan).
Last year I also read this post by Chris Harbeck, a teacher in Canada, and I decided to challenge last year's class in a similar way – challenge each of them to bring in $0.25 a day for each day class met between then and the end of the semester. I'm going to challenge you guys with the same this year. Conveniently, our class meets ten times before the end of the semester, so that’s challenging you to donate a total of $2.50.

I want to be clear – this is not a requirement. This has no effect on your grade. There’s no extra credit, nor will I berate anyone who doesn’t participate. This isn’t about you. Or about me. This is about helping empower people who haven’t had the same opportunities that we enjoy. Some folks think teenagers won’t do this kind of thing if there’s not a payoff for them in it – we’ll see if they’re right.

I wrote a couple of years ago:
Poor people in impoverished communities often don’t have access to financial institutions and capital, and microfinancing addresses this problem. It is especially helpful to women, who often are the key to raising families – and communities – out of poverty. It’s also my opinion that this is one of the best ways to help achieve peace in the world.
So I challenge you to bring in what you can. If that’s a quarter a day (or $2.50 total), that’s great. If it’s less, or more, that’s great as well. You can bring money to class each day expressly to donate, or you can simply find me during the day when you perhaps have some change in your pocket (after lunch?) and donate (no amount is too small – or too large). You can choose to participate yourself, or you can cajole your family and friends to donate some change as well if you want – it’s up to you.

Then I’ll match whatever you donate (up to $100 – I’m not completely crazy). So I’ll take the total of whatever you guys bring in by the last day we meet (our final is on Tuesday, December 13th), and match it with an equal amount, then I’ll take the total and lend it out on Kiva. (If you’d like to help me pick which entrepreneur to lend to, start looking around Kiva and let me know who you think we should fund.)

So, if you occasionally visit Starbucks, consider skipping it once in the next couple of weeks. Or perhaps you could skip that overpriced, not-really-very-healthy-for-you “energy” drink I see some of you drink in the morning. Or if you go out for lunch, skip the soft drink a couple of times. Not only will you be doing your body a favor by skipping one or all of these, but a minor deprivation for you could turn into a possibly life-changing loan for someone else.

It might only be a fraction of a dollar to you, but to someone in the developing world – it’s priceless.

Kiva - loans that change lives

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