Monday, August 20, 2012

Kiva Camp gets students, teachers geared up for the new school year

As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.” We like to live by this philosophy at Kiva -- not only because our mission is rooted in this idea, but also because we frequently see it in action.

Recently, we hosted our first-ever Kiva Camp, an innovative student and educator leadership training retreat. The camp was designed to get our education community geared up to lead and grow their Campus Kiva and Kiva High School chapters this coming school year.

21 amazing student leaders and 2 remarkable educators from across the country made their way to Kiva headquarters in San Francisco for a weekend packed with inspiring speakers, training sessions, networking, and fun.

Students and teachers alike were able to expand their knowledge through trainings on Kiva’s mission, vision and values, the power of lending, community engagement, social media, fundraising, and hosting offline events – all led by Kiva staff.

Most of all, it was here, within the walls of the Kiva office, that we experienced and saw firsthand the drive, compassion, and commitment that this small group -- who represents Kiva’s larger education programs -- has to advocate, educate, and act on behalf of Kiva’s mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Inspired by the independent efforts of these students and teachers to bring Kiva to their schools, we also looked to them to find out how Kiva could be a stronger resource for chapters as we develop our education program.

Our question: How can Kiva empower students and teachers to share Kiva on their campuses and in their classrooms more effectively?

We didn’t have to look very far. It’s clear that today’s elementary, high school, and college-aged students are part of a generation that will force a shift in philanthropy. The students who participated in Kiva Camp, along with their counterparts in schools worldwide, are part of a generation that has grown up on the Internet, values social connection, and believes in their capacity to make a direct and tangible impact on the world.

Their teachers, committed to this very same mission, guide them to reach their full potential to be catalysts for a changed world. We see them band together, as clubs, as classes, or as a group of Kiva Campers, to prove that Mead’s statement is a living and breathing reality.

At Kiva, we strive to support this energy, dedication and will to achieve. We couldn’t have been more excited to host Kiva Camp and support these extraordinary students and teachers, so that when they return back to their home campuses, they live out their passion to help others and share their actions with their communities in a bigger and brighter way.

During a brainstorm session on Saturday afternoon, one high school student leader pointed out that “ambition is a waste without action.” It’s this kind of compelling insight from our education community -- overflowing with motivation-- that makes us confident that they will act, and ensure that no ambition goes to waste.

If you’re interested in getting a Kiva chapter started at your school, or have an existing Kiva curriculum, email us at

This post was written by Erin Viray, Kiva's Education Outreach Coordinator.