How Gen-Y Can Change The World With Their Pocket Change

by Reanne Derkson

I am 24 years old, a “starving student,” if you will, surviving on freelance work and an ever-growing student loan. I drink cheap wine when I can afford to party (I can almost always justify a budget for wine) and my sometimes skewed priorities lead me to fasting for a week in order to afford a pair of J-Brand jeans (admit it, you’ve been there, too). I also just raised over $11,000 to build a school in Africa, – and FYI, you can too.

Change Heroes is a social enterprise for good. It’s a brand spankin’ new start-up business that uses traditional commercial means to attain an end goal of impact, rather than an end goal of profit.

Change Heroes, founded by Canadian social entrepreneur, Taylor Conroy, utilizes a friend-funding platform that allows people like you and me to raise a bunch of money with our friends in order to fund the building of schools and libraries in developing countries. With the few clicks of the mouse, launching your own campaign is as easy as updating your Facebook profile.

Like any Gen-Yer with a Millennial mindset, and a sometimes overzealous do-gooder desire, “talking the talk” is always much easier than “walking the walk.”

And if you’re anything like me (jaded, 20-something, with an appetite for luxury beyond my means), it should come as no surprise that the first time I got the idea in my head that I wanted to “build a school” in Africa, my right hand was thoroughly occupied with an over-poured glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

And if we’re being completely honest here, it started with a crush…as many things do.

I met Taylor Conroy at a party. Unabashedly, I’ll admit that it was Taylor’s fair-haired handsomeness and statuesque build that inspired me to introduce myself. Even upon learning about his philanthropic ways, his charm (if you don’t believe me, watch his TED talk) might have been a large influencing factor in my eagerness to join his cause.

“I want to build a school!” I told him, with the drunken enthusiasm that only three glasses of a full-bodied red can provide. However, upon waking up and attempting to drown my hangover in bottomless glasses of water, there remained remnants of a conversation that I couldn’t wash away.

A cause that seeped beyond the casualties of a chance encounter, it cozied right up in the consciousness of my mind and began to consume my daily thoughts. I really did want to build a school in Africa.

As students, some of us are on the brink of post-secondary graduation, capitalizing on an education that has been handed to us on a silver platter since the day we learned how to spell our own names in Kindergarten. I feel there is a certain conviction to “pay it forward.” Change Heroes enables us to do that.

For $3.33 a day - less than the price of a grande, non-fat, sugar-free Americano misto at Starbucks – you and your group of 33 heroes can easily raise over $10,000 within three months to build a school in Kenya that will educate 1000 children over 20 years.

There is a certain misconception that in order to give back, donate to charities or make a difference in the world, one must be middle-aged and on an established career-path. Yet without a second thought, we plug our meters with $3 dollars worth of pocket-change, we spend $30 dollars on a plain tee from American Apparel, and we spend $300 dollars on a ticket to Coachella.

That same $333 dollars could save the lives of thousands of children. When a child in the developing world is born to a mother that can read, that child has a 50% greater chance of surviving past the age of five. When a girl in the developing world receives an education, she gets married an average of four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

Understanding that we have the power to promote change is the first step. Understanding that we can do it with our pocket-change is the second step.

It’s important for our generation to realize that just because a lot of us are still students, a lot of us have debts to pay off, and a lot of us are working minimum wage jobs, together, we can make a difference.

Let’s face it: if we can afford to drink double vodkas on-the-rocks every weekend, we can afford to donate the price of a daily coffee to a better cause - and personally, I’ll take changing the world over a hangover any day.

Top Photo Courtesy: We Heart It