I am sitting at home today, using SW4SX skills to follow my passion for solving the student loan crisis. I have connected with two groups – ProPublica – ProPublica – Journalism in the Public Interest an independent non-profit newsroom, and ForegiveStudentDebt.org. I will connect with a third group – National College Finance Center – which launched on July 18,2012.
Marian Wang, ProPublica reporter, writes excellent investigative articles about student debt issues. Marian is currently seeking “financial award letters” for her next article and set up a Facebook Group ProPublica Student Debt Community. The Facebook Group, which has 196 members, is moderated by Marian and Blair Hickman, her ProPublica colleague. It has rules which are included in the files section – “How to Participate or Welcome to our dinner table.” Conversations are respectful and thoughtful. This Group is the most effective Facebook Group that I have found.
ForegiveStudentDebt.org is a Facebook Group and a web site, developed by Robert Applebaum. Robert is a Fordham law school graduate with $88,000 in student debt. Robert wrote an essay advocating for the forgiving all student debt as a less expensive alternative to the TARP “Too Big To Fail” bailout in January 2009. Robert’s essay got the attention of Representative Hansen Clarke. Clarke introduced the Student Loan Forgiveness Bill of 2012. Robert has secured over 1 million signatures for the bill and he has 9,623 members in his Facebook Group.
Robert is a one man show, which I learned when I volunteered to help. He does an excellent job, gets good media coverage and interviews with student groups and has a good blog. His web site is an excellent resource and the Facebook Group has lots of information in the files section.
Jane Lynch, Glee actress, helped launch the National College Finance Center Website and the “Don’t Major in Debt” PSA Campaign on July 21, 2012. The National College Finance Center is funded through a settlement of claims brought by the Office of the New York State Attorney General. The PSA Campaign “Don’t Major in Debt” is conducted by The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). “NYPIRG is New York State’s largest student-directed research and advocacy organization, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit group established to empower, train and educate students and community members through organizing and advocacy efforts in order to solve significant problems affecting residents in New York State and across the country.”
How does this all fit with SW4SX? The student loan problem is a huge multi-layered, multi-faceted problem. My goal is to find the place where I can add value. There are many groups working on the student debt crisis right now; I selected these three because they are targeting/reaching different audiences, their values are consistent with my values and I trust the sources based on my research. My strength is that I am a connector. I will be looking for ways to connect these groups with other groups not currently in their sphere of influence.
SW4SX showed me the path and gave me permission to take a risk, fail, and try again. I am excited about the journey. If you are interested, please come along for the ride.