ALC students lend a helping handThe students enrolled in New Richmond High School’s Alternative Learning Center know what it’s like to need a little help – that’s why they’re now trying to give back.
The students enrolled in New Richmond High School’s Alternative Learning Center know what it’s like to need a little help – that’s why they’re now trying to give back.
“We give because we know what it’s like to need a helping hand,” says their Kiva profile, a non-profit organization that allows people to loan money to others to help alleviate poverty.
The idea began with teacher Scott Herron’s wife, he said.
“She came across it and told me about it,” he said. “I thought it might be something the kids would be excited about doing.”
Herron discussed the idea with High School Principal Jeff Moberg before approaching the students with the idea.
“We all thought it was a cool idea,” said Courtney Ellefson, a senior in Herron’s class.
Each student was asked to bring $1 to class to be used toward a Kiva loan, Herron said.
Minimum loans through Kiva are $25 and it often takes several donors to find one project through Kiva.
It took just days for the alternative students to collect the $25, they said. The hardest part was picking which cause they wanted to help fund.
The group’s seniors are charged with narrowing down the projects.
“The seniors pick who they want to lend to and then we vote,” said Andrew Kristiansen, a junior.
It sounds simpler than it is, said senior Morgan Payson.
“You read so many stories - it’s so hard to pick,” he said.
For example, one father was asking for a loan to help send his son to college, Herron said. The son would have been the first in the family to attend college.
“That was a tough one,” Herron said. “Sending your kid to college – that’s huge. It would’ve changed his family forever for generations.”
While the students didn’t end up lending money to that father, they were able to check later and discovered that he was funded by others.
“Along the way the kids have asked about the other (borrowers) we haven’t helped,” Herron said. “They want to know whether they got funded.”
Herron said Kiva moves him because most of the people asking for loans are people who simply want a helping hand.
“These are people who would never get a loan normally,” he said.
For junior Bonnie Wilcowski, Kiva is a great way to give back.
“It’s just nice to be able to help,” she said.
While $25 might not seem like a lot in terms of a loan, it all adds up in the end.
“We’ve joined a larger community that’s helping people out,” Herron said. “It’s amazing how much difference you can make with just a little.”
According to Kiva’s website, $288 million has been loaned through Kiva by 693,872 users.
The alternative students’ first loan went to a man in El Salvador who planned to use the money to buy two dairy cows so that he could sell their milk and provide for his family of four.
Now, the students are loaning to a woman in South Sudan who plans to use the money to buy beans and sugar for her food business. Her profile says she plans to use her extra income from this loan to build a house in the future.