Lend for America – Vanessa Carter

In partnership with Cordes Foundation, Ashoka U seeks to recognize globally relevant teaching, learning, and partnership practices that may be adapted and replicated across the field. To highlight some of the most high-impact and replicable innovations, Ashoka U and the Cordes Foundation will recognize six promising educational approaches in social entrepreneurship with the Ashoka U — Cordes Innovation Awards.

Lend for America introduces students to microfinance and equips them with the skills, know-how, and confidence necessary to help underserved Americans start businesses and improve their economic wellbeing. Since 2001, students across the country have created campus microfinance institutions, or “Campus MFIs,” that offer equitable financial services to disadvantaged communities outside college campuses. Fellows take on full-time roles and work with mentors to launch new campus MFIs and produce innovative models and products. For example, the Intersect Fund — founded by Rutgers University students — created a Web-based underwriting system that enables loan officers to process applications on iPads; analysts receive client information instantly and assess applicants’ creditworthiness within minutes. Lend for America seeks to transform community development in the U.S.