We built this platform so that you and others in your community could create your own way of paying for college – for your community. This site contains documents that we have developed that you are free to use so long as you do it in a non-profit manner. All of these documents are available to you under a “creative commons license,” which means you can use them if:
- You are acting through a not-for-profit entity
- You make documents built on our documents available on the same terms to others
- You tell us (and provide us with copies) of any changes you make in the documents
- The license is here
Our goal is to allow everyone to build something that is self-sustaining and community supported.
Before we go further, here’s a warning and some strong advice:
We are not giving you legal advice, nor are we promising that all of this will work in your state. This is a pioneering structure without precedent in the United States. As with many pioneering ideas, it may upset some people. If someone goes to court to stop what you’re doing, that is all your risk, not ours. If you want that to be our risk, please do not attempt to use our material.
what are the steps you will need to take?
1. Create an organization.
We did it by creating a non-profit in California. The incorporation and other registration papers are below. You will need to have officers in this corporation and a board of directors. This is an area where you may need legal advice. So:
2. Get good legal advice.
Most of the legal help we got was on a pro bono basis from lawyers who believed in our idea and wanted to do their part. In most states, lawyers have an ethical obligation to do pro bono work. Yours will be very interesting to many lawyers, so it may not be difficult to find someone willing to help you.
3. Build some support.
There is a lot of work that will need to be done to make this happen. Start involving other people in this process – talk to people involved with a local college, community leaders, people involved with social groups. Build a movement.
4. Write your own lenders’ agreement.
Remember the lenders here are those who lend to your non-profit, who will get paid back when the students you’re funding are out of school. We created an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding).
5. Write your own student contract, using ours as a model.
Sit down with some students, the rest of your community and your lawyer, and discuss what can go right and wrong.
6. Find the money.
Consider microfinance (e.g. Kiva and Kickstarter) as well as foundations and other community groups.
7. Recognize that what you’re doing is hard.
It will take time and effort, but we think it can be an incredible win for the right people working together.
Nothing is ever perfect the first time, so take a deep breath and begin…