One of my great grandfathers helped build the Golden Gate bridge. I recall as a child being told that there was a spot where his initials could still be seen. While I can't be sure if that story is true, to this day it still excites me to imagine him doing such a thing. I've been through San Francisco several times, but have never visited that landmark. When I do, I might just look for those initials. That man knew a thing or two about the importance of working with others, and it's a shame that some fail to understand the value of collaboration.
We are not in this struggle alone, and we should never stake out territory in causes that are based upon the collective. When you are only intent on 'protecting your turf,' you lose sight of why and how it matters to build partnerships.
That is why I am always in search of a hand that is extended. Of course, fists are more than just fine, but I like to see a palm first. The palm is followed by a firm handshake. Then we raise our fists. Together.
A few months ago I exchanged several tweets with someone named Suyeon Khim at EduLender. She applauded the work of AEM, Inc. and my research on the student lending crisis. Shortly after that exchange, EduLender sent AEM a generous donation. (I later learned that Ms. Khim is the founder of EduLender).
Part of AEM's objective is to bridge partnerships with organizations and individuals who share our concerns about student loan debt, the struggles of student loan borrowers, etc. For instance, I am actively involved in spreading the word about SponsorChange.org's work. We have developed a positive relationship, and I work (voluntarily) as their Online Brand Advocate. (Psssssst. If you haven't explored what SponsorChange is all about, do so immediately! Yes. That's a command).
AEM continues to forge new relationships on a weekly basis. In fact, our newest partnership is with The David & Goliath Project. The Founder, Dustin Slaughter, is on AEM's Board of Directors, and I am excited to support his newest endeavor.
Based upon the objectives of EduLender, it was immediately clear that they could be a potential partner. As it turns out, the relationship would become more than that.
On Monday, February 14th, I will be joining EduLender as the Managing Editor of EduTrends.
This will not preclude me from continuing my own work as the founder & executive Director of AEM. The mission stays the same - to come up with viable solutions that will bring immediate relief to current debtors. In addition, EduLender fully supports the mission and work of our organization. In fact, this relationship and new venture is a win-win for all of us.
More work lies ahead, but I've had my sleeves rolled up for quite some time. To build is to change. Demolition is nearly complete.
"Interview with Suyeon Khim, Founder of EduLender," Midventures, Dec. 9, 2010
"Hyde Park Angels Invest In EduLender, Inc.," ForeverGeeks, Dec. 7, 2010
"Economista: Why MicroLenders Will Replace Sallie Mae," Black Enterprise, February 11, 2011
"SponsorChange: Alleviating The Strain Of Student Debt," Atlanta Post, May 25, 2010