Ivan worked hard to be a strong candidate for top colleges, taking four advanced placement classes, earning a 3.4 grade point average and serving as treasurer and then vice president of the Latino Movement Club. He also volunteered at his church. Ivan secured an acceptance letter from St. Mary's, his first choice college. There was just one problem — the financial aid package the school offered required a larger family contribution than his family could afford, even after taking into account private scholarships he had already won.
Ivan didn't want to give up on his dream of attending a four-year college, so he took a risk, enrolled at St. Mary's, and kept looking for more funding. He secured several private scholarships but still started the school year facing a monthly payment plan that would be a real stretch for his family. That's when Ivan learned about iPivoted.org, which just went live in August. (Full disclosure: I am the executive director of the Burwen Education Foundation, which has granted a scholarship to Ivan.)
iPivoted allows college students affiliated with various mentoring organizations to post profiles online to seek additional financing for their education from individual donors. Students can ask for whatever amount they need, but with a catch — current iPivoted policy only allows students to receive funding once donors have contributed 100 percent of their fundraising target. When the goal is reached, a check is sent directly to the student's school. If the goal is not reached by the time the student's profile expires (either six months after it is posted or on a date of the student's choice), any money that has been pledged reverts to the donors. "This policy is designed to encourage students to really consider their budgets and only ask for the amount of money that is truly essential," iPivoted founder Ben Steinberg explains.
The first student to achieve full funding had a very modest goal of $205, while other students are asking for $5,000 or more.
Steinberg says iPivoted aims to address the fact that even with unemployment at 9 percent, there are two million vacant high-skill jobs in the United States because there aren't two million people with the degrees and skills needed to fill those jobs. While iPivoted presently focuses on helping students bridge their financial aid gaps, "the real mission of iPivoted is to allow each individual person to realize his or her full potential," Steinberg says. Eventually, iPivoted hopes to link the students profiled on its site to job opportunities and other resources.
In the first week that Ivan's profile has been on the website, it has not attracted any donors, but Ivan remains optimistic. "I love it here at St. Mary's, and I am confident that I will find a way to keep funding my education, no matter what it takes," he says. To view Ivan's profile, go to ipivoted.org and search the student list for Ivan R., "future forensic scientist."
Mountain View resident Jennifer Pence is founder of the Windmill Giving Circle and founder and owner of Academic Springboard, a tutoring group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.