A couple of weeks ago, I got an email update from Kiva letting me know that I had enough money in my account to reloan it ($25). I chose to contribute to a young man named Robert who's trying to make his own way in Uganda. For about $75, I've helped fund 9 projects in 8 different countries over the last 2 years. It never ceases to amaze me how far a dollar can go in developing countries.
To follow up on my 2009 article 3 Ways to Use Microcredit to Invest Your Students, I'm bringing this topic up again as a possible end-of-year project for your classroom. The last month or two of school is difficult to trudge through, and this kind of outside-the-box project can grab your students' attention and provides an opportunity to connect to the real world in a tangible way.
It can work in just about any subject or grade level: In a social studies course, your students could analyze the economy of the host country. In ELA, you could use the description of the person or group you're loaning to as a springboard to creative writing about their life. In math, start with finding the conversion rates for money and take off from their. In short, use it as you would any thematic unit.
Plus, updates from the project might not come until after the school year has ended, giving your students an excuse to visit you next year!
Kiva also just announced a "Green Loans" program, so if your kids are interested in environmental projects (and so many are these days), it's just another reason to try it out.
Have you experimented with Kiva in your classroom or with your kids at home? Share your experiences in the comments.