Helping Millennials Do Good and Do Well with SponsorChange
As part of Black History Month, we’ll be sharing inspiring stories from Black and African American alumni of AmeriCorps throughout February. Today’s post comes from Raymar Hampshire, an AmeriCorps Alum who co-founded SponsorChange.
Today’s labor force is slowly being replenished with Millennials—a group of young adults who have been trained and eager to tackle some of the world’s most challenging problems. Yet our society has decided to weigh this generation down with an unprecedented amount of student debt. Instead of undertaking larger societal problems upon graduating from college, many Millennials are forced to tackle their own student debt. I was one of those students. I felt the pressure of student debt, rent, and other bills, and decided to pursue a higher paying job in finance. I learned a great deal and met some really smart people. But I wasn’t fulfilled. I realized that I wanted a job that would allow me to have a greater impact in my community.
My discovery of AmeriCorps gave me a financially viable path to serve my community and address my student loan debt. As an AmeriCorps member I pursued my passion in volunteer management with a position at Pittsburgh Cares, a HandsOn Network affiliate that seeks to increase community engagement through volunteerism. I learned firsthand the impact that volunteers were having locally in Pittsburgh non-profit organizations. Without the financial support of AmeriCorps I would not have been able to work full-time with Pittsburgh Cares.
I am now using my past experiences along with more recent experiences at the Corporation for National and Community Service, the White House, and the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs to think of innovative ways to create service pathways for young people. Today, more than ever, young people are delaying buying their first home, having children, and pursuing advanced degrees all because of their student debt burden. Even more, these young people prefer to serve in a sustainable way, but are left to choose between doing good and doing well—this is where our work at SponsorChange begins.
Our mission at SponsorChange is three-fold:
- Engage, mobilize and leverage student talent on campus to organizations in the social sector.
- Access the needs and establish short-term projects at organizations and source student talent to these critical projects.
- Reward students with student loan pay for each project they complete.
Over the next year, we will strive to make it incredibly simple for universities and corporations to engage current students and graduates in an online service community. Students and graduates will be able to receive crowdfunding contributions from individual sponsors I affectionately call Philanthroteers. This funding is directly applied to their student loan accounts after they have completed their skill-based service project. The interaction is a win-win for everyone. Colleges and companies reduce their costs of running volunteer programs, nonprofits receive the talent they need, sponsors multiply the impact of their giving, and students and graduates are able to give back, and pay back.
The future and well-being of our country is inextricably linked to our ability to engage more young people in service. But, I remain optimistic in finding a long-lasting solution because of programs like AmeriCorps that offer an onramp to service.
Raymar Hampshire is the Co-Founder and CEO of SponsorChange. Raymar began his career in public service as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. In 2009, He worked to strengthen youth volunteerism as an AmeriCorps member with Pittsburgh Cares, a HandsOn Network affiliate. Mr. Hampshire has also served in external outreach for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and The Corporation for National and Community Service.
As the Co-Founder and CEO of SponsorChange, he continues his commitment to service by enabling students and recent college graduates to pay down their student debt by raising sponsorship dollars for their work at nonprofits and social enterprises. Follow him on twitter @Philanthroteer.