IDEA & OPPORTUNITY > Swapping student debt for charity work

University students in the UK rack up an average of more than GBP 12,000 in student debt by the time they graduate, leaving them with a significant financial burden to cope with as they begin their professional careers. Do Good 4 Debt was recently founded by one such graduate with a two-pronged purpose: to help relieve some of that debt, and to give companies more control over their charitable contributions.

The premise is simple: debt-burdened students are matched with companies interested in sponsoring them to do charity work. They then choose from among a few different participating charities to work for over a period of up to 6 months following graduation. At the completion of each set milestone during the assignment, the student's corporate sponsor pays off a chunk of the outstanding debt.

The site was founded by recent graduate Ian Wallace, who finished his law studies with GBP 14,000 in debt. While working at a local factory to pay off some of it, Wallace explains, he heard the owner of the business bemoaning the way most charitable contributions never produce visible results for the donor. The proverbial lightbulb went on, and Wallace printed up a brochure explaining his idea. Soon after, he was sponsored by three companies. At the conclusion of his charity assignment, he presented a report to his sponsors to show how his work had helped. Meanwhile, his debts were paid off and he had gained valuable work experience.

Membership costs GBP 16 and is open to anyone struggling with debt-not just students. The maximum amount of debt that can be paid off is GBP 9,000. The site won't launch officially until January, but four companies and 100 students have already signed up-Wallace is aiming for a maximum of 500 to begin with. Currently Do Good 4 Debt serves only the UK, but it hopes to recruit ambassadors in different countries over the next year. It's a concept that sounds like a win-win for everyone involved-one to bring to an area near you?



Spotted by: Scott Penn
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