Commencement Processional , a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Earlham College’s photostream

Did you know that the average debt load for the two-thirds of college students who take out loans to pay for college is $24,000 by the time that they graduate — and that this is up 6% from just a year earlier? Now couple that statistic with one by the Corporation for National & Community Service which ranks millennials as having the lowest rate of volunteerism and you begin to see a bigger problem. Millennials are saddled with huge debts which prevent them from giving the time to service projects and civic engagement that they would like to do and that their community needs.

Enter SponsorChange.org. SponsorChange.org believes both that non-profits deserve the best talent and that higher education should be accessible to everyone and they’ve found a way to make that happen. Their motto is “You Serve. They Sponsor. Change Happens.” It works like this: SponsorChange.org finds donors to raise funds to sponsor service projects at non-profits, they find non-profits who have a need for skilled college graduates for projects, and then they recruit college grads to complete service projects in exchange for student loan payments.

It’s a Pittsburgh-based organization founded by brothers Raymar and Robert Hampshire. They have four main goals:

– Promoting financial literacy among young professionals

– Working together with faith-based organizations to help mobilize its congregations to serve

– Partnering with corporations to create customized employee volunteer programs

– Assisting elected officials in mobilizing young volunteers to government programs

CNN recently¬†aired a piece on SponsorChange.org. It looks at Gretchen Jacobs’ story. SponsorChange.org connected Gretchen with CommuniTeach — an organization which helps people share their skills with their neighbors and learn new ones. CommuniTeach got a motivated college grad who they could not have afforded to hire on their own and Gretchen received valuable professional experience in addition to direct payments to her college loans. A win-win situation.

You can go to SponsorChange.org’s website to sign up to be a donor, a participating recent grad, or a non-profit organization.