Yesterday was my daughter Lulu’s 19th birthday, so naturally I gave her a gift: a certificate of $100 that she could give to any needy student she chose on the Givology website. (Okay, relax – I also gave her a camera. I’m not a total Scrooge.)
Lulu picked Shangui Yan, a 19-year old from the Sichuan province in southwestern China (the area that was devastated by an earthquake in May 2008). Shangui’s father is a farmer and his mother is disabled, so Shangui and his sister’s educations are tied to the output of the fields, severely affected by a recent drought.
“The day I started school, my mother broke down in tears because she realized that she could never afford to pay tuition for her children to fully complete their education,” he explains on his profile. “I used to be number one in my class,” he writes, “ … but I lost confidence and courage.. I know I still have to try my best.”
This young man’s struggle to succeed against harsh economic odds inspired Lulu to support his education through one of Givology’s 26 partner organizations in 16 developing countries around the world. Givology is quite an organization – 100% volunteer-run, totally Internet-driven, and a perfect snapshot of the inspiring dedication to service that I’ve been amazed by in this young generation.
Givology was founded in 2008 by Joyce Meng, a student at University of Pennsylvania, now a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, who in her spare time decided to start a micro-philanthropy online giving marketplace, where students and young people could support other students and educational projects in a hands-on, blogs-on, interconnected and transparent way. 30 core team members and 90 volunteers (their blogs are incredible!) globally seek out and stringently assess leading grassroots non-profits focused on education, then set up a marketplace where you can support their initiatives and scholarships. You can also send messages to your student and receive quarterly updates on his or her progress.
To date, Givology has raised over $50,000, helped 1,500 students around the world to afford an education, registered almost 1300 donors, been lauded as one the “Top 100 Student-Run Enterprises in the United States” by the Kairos Society, and been recognized in Nicholas Kristof’s column and new book, with Sheryl WuDunn: Half the Sky. It’s helped install solar panels on schools, purchased poplar trees to use for income, built libraries, and started school lunch programs across the globe.