I'm donating my birthday to Vittana. And the world....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2011/09/27 06:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2011/09/27/10217161.aspx

Today is my birthday.

In fact, it is the 16th anniversary of my 25th birthday today! :)

I have decided to do something special with my birthday this year.

I am donating it!

Anytime unemployment is high, a favorite story is about the unemployment rate among college graduates, and whether these stories are based on some study or poll or whatever, they tent to be awash in the perceived irony the situation provides.

Fair enough.

But what most of those stories don't bother to point out is that on the whole college graduates do better for their lifetime income than those without degrees.

Because one you get past all the irony, it is impossible to ignore that is is hard get a degree without learning. Not just about what the classes and tests and homework are all about, but about learning how to learn more.

Education is about bettering oneself, which increases opportunity.

Anyway, so I am donating my birthday to , a company whose purpose is summed in its Wikipedia article:

Vittana is a non-governmental organization that allows people to lend money via the Internet to students in the developing world. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in Seattle. Vittana focuses on student loans because student loans are nearly unavailable in developing countries.

Lenders browse through a list of students and select who they wish to fund. The loans issued by Vittana range from $200 to $1,500 and are funded by individual lenders through its website. The loans are disbursed when Vittana has aggregated sufficient money from donors to cover the education expenses. One hundred percent of the loans are given to the student. A mother or a close relative acts as a co-signer. The recipient of the loan can repay the loan after landing a job. Vittana students have had a 97% repayment rate.

Vittana has collaborated with several organizations such as the Clinton Global Initiative, Brigham Young University, frog design, Grameen Foundation, HOPE International, Lex Mundi, Orrick, Perkins Coie, Pop!Tech, Unitus and University of Washington, Seattle. In collaboration with Clinton Global Initiative as a key education partner, Vittana partnered with Africa’s microfinance institutions to launch lending programs which fund post-secondary education for young people. The loans are able to help 10,000 students complete higher education by 2015. Amazon.com has backed Vittana's educational loans.

Or you can see how it works from the Vittana site directly...

Now there are several different ways to help here:

If you work for a company like Microsoft or Boeing or now Apple, then the second and third bullets are eligible for corporate matching (disclaimer: Vittana isn't set up to let you choose the exact students who et loans with the matching funds, in part due to the complicated nature of how soon and how often money is disbursed -- but money matching loans is used for other loans.

These is no shame in the first option, either -- you are still making live better even if you would rather be repaid later.

You can even mention my name if you want (I make no cut of the money obviously, but I'll get a nice email about having inspired you, which is a cut enough in my book!). And a more awesome birthday present in honor of this, the 16th anniversary of my 25th birthday, than pretty much anything else you can come up with.

Less than 8 hours ago, I gifted $2,427.00 split between 11 different students. In most cases I "finished off" the amount needed for each loan, so in the majority of those 11 cases I get to [selfishly] get to be the person who got the loan disbursed to the students. I love that feeling, I'll admit it.

Today I'll put in the matching so the Vittana will get $4,854.00 for my birthday, and the lives of a bunch of people will be made better. And after those loans are repaid Vittana will use the money for more loans. And even more people are helped....

It feels good to give, it truly does. Thank you Vittana for helping me make lives better!

Kathleen on 27 Sep 2011 10:54 AM:

Michael, A great idea that I'll look to use for new year gifts. Thanks for promoting a new organization.

Good Days on 28 Sep 2011 10:29 AM:

That is very creative Michael. I work with Good Days from Chronic Disease Fund, and it is our goal to assist chronic disease sufferers in gaining the treatment they need. By supporting our organization, you could help these patients too! gooddaysfromcdf.org

Michael S. Kaplan on 28 Sep 2011 2:06 PM:

There is never a shortage of worthy causes, but my birthday (yesterday) is already spoken for, sorry!

Jan Kučera on 29 Sep 2011 10:36 AM:

By the way, happy birthday! :-)

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