Another Unusual $100,000 Birthday Present (Plus: Free Round-Trip Anywhere in the World)

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Soon 35-years young… and still not acting my age. (Photo: Sir Garrett Camp)

35! I’ll turn a glorious 35 this week.

It’s going to be a great natal year–I can already feel it. Perhaps it will be good luck for you, too. In this post, I’m giving away a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world.

But back to that strange birthday gift…

Much to the chagrin of my momma-san, I’ve become quite difficult to buy presents for. Some friends even think I’m impossible to find presents for. Not so. I love handwritten letters, homemade brownies, and–most of all–when people do something nice.

You, dear readers, have a record of being nice and making it count. In fact, you’ve changed thousands of lives with small acts of kindness!

For my b-day in 2010, you all raised more than $100,000 for high-need public school classrooms in the US. Then, last year, you helped build libraries overseas (See the construction progress on Cambodia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka here, as well as the completed schools in Vietnam.)

In lieu of gifts this year, my birthday wish is to help poor youth in developing nations finish school. This breaks the cycle of poverty and creates problem solvers in places with problems that affect communities, entire countries, and the world at large.

And there are a few fun twists…

First, think Kiva.org for education. Unlike last year, we’re actually giving loans. By using loans, only the most hard-working and ambitious students participate. Vittana.org, the organization I’m partnering with, currently has an astounding 99.8% repayment rate! That means you should actually make your money back, and you’re giving a hand up instead of a hand out.

If you prefer to “donate,” you can opt to have the funds automatically reinvested in Vittana, which is what I do.

Here’s how it works:

1. Join my 35th birthday challenge by clicking here. It’s worth clicking through just to check out the site.

2. To get your engines started, I’ve put in $10,000 of my own money, primarily into women studying to be programmers and teachers. Under “Find a student,” you’ll see “Students we’re helping.” That’s the gang.

3. If the spirit moves you, please make a $35 loan (or whatever you can: $1, $35, $1,000, etc.) to the student of your choosing. Click on “Find a student” to search outside my group. Even a $1 can make a big difference to these students!

4. Over the next several months, your (and my) students will finish school. They’ll then find jobs and begin repaying their loans.

Vittana’s impact is incredible, and your good karma compounds over time. Take a girl like Ana Lizbeth for instance — with a $713 Vittana Loan, she became an IT administrator and doubled her income. I’m so excited about Vittana that I just recently became an advisor, joining supporters like Google, Tim O’Reilly, and Mitch Kapor, among others. It’s really awesome.

So, to get this party started in force…

Sweetening the Pot…

- If you all help raise $50,000, I will personally foot the bill for another $50,000. This means that if you get the total to $60,000 (as I put in $10K already), I will pay the remaining $40,000 to get us to $100,000. The deadline for this is 11:59pm PST on Friday, July 27th.

- I’m giving away a free round-trip ticket anywhere in the world that Star Alliance flies, which is just about everywhere. There is no expiration date on the trip, so no rush on deciding where or when to go.

Now, here’s how to get it:

- Spread the word however you can. Send people to this post or to my Vittana donation page.
– Leave a comment below telling me what you did (Facebook, Twitter, blog post, e-mail blast, e-mail signature, encouraged employees/friends to do the same, company donation matching, etc.). Measurement of any type gets huge bonus points. This comment must be put up no later than 11:59pm PST on Friday, July 27th, 2012.
– Lastly, answer one question at the very top of your comment: “What does education mean to you?”

I’ll pick the top five promoters, and you’ll all vote on the winner of the round-trip.

Fun!

But the best reason of all…

Beyond the bribes, you’ll feel awesome about yourself for doing real good for people who have so little. People who, without education, might not have a future at all.

Trust me. It feels great.

Will you pause for a moment and step up, even if for $1? It would mean the world to me. I’ll share updates as I get them.

Again, here is where to go to loan/donate $35, $1, $1,000, or whatever you can.

Thank you for reading this post. You are all rock stars, and I continue to write on this blog purely because of you.

Posted on: July 19, 2012.

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282 comments on “Another Unusual $100,000 Birthday Present (Plus: Free Round-Trip Anywhere in the World)