MySkolar.org - Scholarships that change lives

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MySkolar.org - Scholarships that change lives

Philippines
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

MySkolar uses online crowdsourcing and full transparency to fund Skolars and it is highly scalable with its partnership model.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

According to the World Bank, only around 27 out of 100 students around the world were enrolled in tertiary education in 2010. In other words, more than 7 out of 10 college-age kids do not go to college. It does not take much to learn that lack of financing directly or indirectly is one of the primary reasons. In the Philippines in particular, according to the National Statistics Office, 54% of kids not attending school cite the related costs to be the reason for their non-attendance. This sums up to more than 6 million Filipinos from the age group 6 to 24 years old who are not attending school because of lack of financing.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

MySkolar aims to connect underprivileged students to donors from all over the world through an innovative, highly scalable online platform. Our field partners will carefully screen Skolars from developing countries and help them create their profiles on myskolar.org. Donations will then be crowdsourced online from a global donor base for the benefit of these Skolars. Our Skolars will need to apply to our field partners who will do the screening, selection and monitoring of Skolars. Each Skolar will create a profile page that will contain information (such as grades, essays, and regular updates) that will help donors choose the students that they want to support. With these profile pages, donors can give via a convenient online payment system and also stay informed about how the Skolars are doing in college. With our model, we are helping our field partners raise money from a wider donor base, thus giving them the ability to send more students to college. Additionally, we are providing our partners an online platform to feature their Skolars, their achievements and how they’re doing in college. We are thus also giving our partners a convenient medium for transparency and accountability, which will positively inspire more donations. All of these activities will lead to more funds flowing from donors from all over the globe to underprivileged students who need them the most.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our crowdsourcing model harnesses the growing use of the Internet and of social media. Here's how MySkolar works: A Skolar will apply for a scholarship with one of our field partners. The partners are existing organizations or institutions that already have a proven process of screening and providing scholarships to deserving students. If accepted, the Skolar will be given a profile page on myskolar.org. The page will feature the Skolar's target fund amount and the information relevant to donors, such as essays, report cards and other evidence of achievements. The Skolar himself will maintain the page and keep it up-to-date so that his donors can make an informed decision when making a donation. The Skolar can share his page with his family and friends via Facebook, Twitter or email, while the field partner can also share its Skolars’ pages with its community (alumni body, employees, etc.). The donor can donate as little as $20 or as much as a full scholarship via an online payment system. Donors can also create “fundraisers” that will encourage giving as a group. This will be useful for corporates that encourage giving among its employees and for existing organizations (associations, alumni body, community organizations, etc.) that have several members who wish to give back in the name of the organization. Long after a donation has been made, the donor can track how his Skolar is doing in school through his profile page, and see how his donation has benefited someone directly.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are other online donating platforms that also use the crowdsourcing model, such as globalgiving.org and give2asia.org. Competing against these sites for donation money is one of our main challenges. However, we believe that we have positioned ourselves differently from them. For one, we cover a specific cause that appeals to specific donors, while other sites cover a wider variety of causes - from healthcare to the environment to animal rights. Additionally, we reach out to our donors through: 1) an identifiable individual beneficiary (the Skolar), 2) the easily understandable end-goal (college degree), and 3) a practical medium to keep track of the beneficiary (the online profile page of the Skolars); all of which give us an edge over other similar sites. As for existing scholarship providers (trusts, universities, etc.), we consider them as our peers and potential partners, not as competitors. For instance, we help universities raise more funds from their alumni body for the benefit of underprivileged students who've been admitted to the university. We can also complement corporates’ CSR programs and get their employees engaged in supporting a Skolar collectively.
About You
Organization:
MySkolar.org
About You
First Name

Jennifer

Last Name

Galang

Twitter URL
About Your Organization
Organization Name

MySkolar.org

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Innovation
Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for less than a year

Social Impact
FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.

My Aha! moment came when I was sitting in an Economics class at New York University, back in October 2010. We were talking about Chile’s Pinochet and how he hired the “Chicago Boys” – young Chilean economists who studied at the University of Chicago – to reform the economy. Now I don’t really know what it was about the Chicago Boys that triggered my Aha! moment. Maybe it was the thought of sending students to schools abroad, but an idea just hit me and I wrote down three lines on my notepad:

Scholarship Program
Access to students’ applications, grades, future endeavors
Not spec[ific] to one student sponsored like World [Vision]

It’s not entirely explainable, but right there I thought of combining two of our current core values – crowdsourcing and transparency – for the benefit of students. When I got home I drew website drafts all night like a madman, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date

We have registered MySkolar as a non-profit org in the Philippines and in Hong Kong. Our impact for our 1st year will be limited by the # of partners and Skolars that get invited. We are currently in talks with several potential partners in Pakistan and in the Philippines.

Moving forward, we will measure our social impact as:

Net impact of MySkolar = Increase in Skolar’s income + Savings in Social Welfare + Benefit to future generations

a) Increase in Skolar's Income: difference between the income of a college and a non-college graduate;
b) Savings in social welfare: what the government and community would have paid to support a non-college graduate, including unemployment and social security benefits;
c) Benefit to future generations: studies show that children of college graduates are more likely to go to college compared to kids of non-college grads; thus helping Skolars will lead to better quality of life for the entire family and their generations, not just the Skolar.

Ultimately, we hope to quantify the net impact of MySkolar for every peso spent in creating this impact. Thus,

Net impact per every peso spent = Net impact of MySkolar / Operating expenses

What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?

The model is highly scalable, with the expansion limited only by how well and how fast we can get field partners to sign up and select Skolars. The model can be easily applied in another developing country once suitable partners are identified.

At the end of 5 years, we conservatively estimate having 20 field partners from 5 countries and 130 Skolars in total.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

We would have launched the full site, announced our first batch of Skolars, and started raising donations.

Six-Month Tasks
Task 1

Finish the web development.

Task 2

Sign up at least two field partners and at least two Skolars each.

Task 3

Hold two fundraising events.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

We would have fully funded our first batch of Skolars, sent them to school, and signed up more partners.

12-Month Tasks
Task 1

Hold a feedback and review process with our users to date and perform website modifications if necessary.

Task 2

Sign up at least two more field partners and at least two Skolars each.

Task 3

Hold two more fundraising events.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

Fewer than 100

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

101‐1000

Sustainability
Explain how your company, program, service or product is structured

Non-profit

What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?

We have an ambitious online platform that requires a competent developer who understands our vision. We struggled with our first developer who had to back out in the middle of the project because they did not have the capability to develop the functionalities we needed. We have since found another developer whom we believe is more capable not only of completing the task but also of providing us useful insights on how to use the web platform to maximize our social impact.

Funding is also another barrier that we have struggled with. As of yet, we have been funding all our expenses out of pocket. We plan to resolve this funding shortfall in the future once we fully launch the site and are able to receive donations and processing fees.

How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?

We see a higher penetration of mobile phones and Internet use in the next decade, making online access more like a commodity. MySkolar is taking advantage of this trend by using a crowdsourcing model and an online payment system. We recognize that more and more donors give online, and that donors require convenience and practicality throughout the donation process, including the tracking of the benefits of their donations. Our online model lets us source donations more efficiently.

Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?

Another idea that we are exploring is using our platform to encourage scholarship institutions to show more transparency in their activities. They can use the site not to raise funding but to profile their scholars prominently and help their existing donors see where their money is going, which will hopefully encourage more people to give.

Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding

To date, our expenses have been limited to minimal web development costs and registration costs, which we have funded from the founding team's savings. Moving forward, we will sustain our expenses primarily from grants and donations and partially from a minimal processing fee from every donation transaction.

Tell us about your partnerships

We are currently in talks with potential partners, Lahore University of Management Sciences (one of UN’s 10 Academic Impact Hubs) and an NGO in the Philippines. Our first corporate partner is Thomson Reuters, who has committed to provide us technological help for our online analytics.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?

The most crucial activities at our current stage are web development and the establishment of partnerships. We have contracted an outside web development company which develops and manages the site while the management team focuses on on-boarding new field partners.

After the full launch of the site, we will need a team of volunteers who will help us with fundraising, marketing activities and administrative tasks.

Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply

Human resources or talent, Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Mentorship.

Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply

Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Innovation or ideas.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list
Summary
Define your company, program, service or product in 1-2 short sentences

MySkolar.org is a global online scholarship platform that connects Skolars to donors from all over the world.

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