Back to Top
We believe business can and should be a positive force for change.
We believe that companies have a responsibility to make the world a better place. That's what we expect from each other as individuals. Why not think about companies in the same way? They have a tremendous amount of influence and capital that can drive a tremendous amount of social good.
Just look at Warby Parker and TOMS Shoes, two of our greatest inspirations. They have built brilliant business models that gear
the for-profit motive toward social good. We believe this is not only the right thing to do, but will become more and more commonplace, as consumers demand it from the companies they choose to interact with, particularly as our generation - the millennial generation - becomes a growing part of our economic fabric.
Back to Top
For every degree fully funded on our platform, we will fund the education of a student in need abroad for a full year. We have partnered with the African School for Excellence (ASE) to make this a reality.
We are proud to be the first company to ever bring the "one-for-one" model to education.
Poverty in America sounds like an oxymoron, but it's not. It's in our backyard and we're trying to use our common bonds to change it. That's why we're committed to funding financial literacy education in under-served neighborhoods in each new city we expand our loan program to. Financial literacy programming has proven to be one of the the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty.
We are working with KIPP Charter Schools in Philadelphia right now to pilot our program at KIPP West Philadelphia.
Back to Top
Why the African School for Excellence?
In 2010, CommonBond CEO, David Klein, noticed a story in the New York Times that reviewed a new book written by one of his college professors, Professor James Kloppenberg. For the first time in over 10 years, David reached out to Professor Kloppenberg with a congratulatory note and a comment - that Kloppenberg's class was one of the most intellectually stimulating of his entire academic experience. Within hours, Professor Kloppenberg responded.
Two weeks later, David visited a friend at INSEAD, the global business school just outside of Paris, France. He joined his friend, Kate, in class one day and noticed something peculiar. He turned to Kate and asked, as he was pointing to one of the students in the classroom, "Hey Kate, does that guy have a dad who is a professor at Harvard?" Kate didn't know. His name placard said "Kloppenberg" and his first name was Jay, short, of course, for James. James Kloppenberg!
David went up to Jay after class, and indeed, Jay was the professor's son. David was floored (and is even to this day).
As Jay and David got to talking, they shared their passion for education. In fact, both had plans to build schools - Jay in Africa, David in the Middle East and the U.S. They continued to talk and talk and talk. They decided to take the conversation to dinner: Jay, David, and Kate. They met later that night at a cafe in town. Jay shared his vision for the African School for Excellence, and David, fascinated, peppered him with questions.
It was an incredible encounter. David does not believe in coincidences, but couldn't understand what it all meant. Not until a year later would he be able to.
In 2011, while enrolled at Wharton Business School, David was developing the business model for CommonBond. Social impact was important to him, and companies like TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker, who pioneered the "one-for-one" model in using the for-profit motive for social good, were inspirations to him. So it was not a stretch for David to think of applying the "one for one" model to education - that for every degree his company funds, he would pay for the education of someone in need abroad. But he needed a partner to fulfill that promise. Where could he find such partner?
Cue light bulb.
David searched through his email to uncover Jay's contact information. David wondered if Jay was still pursuing the African School for Excellence (ASE). Afterall, when they had met a year prior, the ASE was nothing more than a 20-page PowerPoint presentation (albeit a very well-thought out PowerPoint presentation with promise as a model and an organization).
Indeed, Jay was still at it. In fact, he was in Africa completing a pilot program in South Africa. The academic performance results were incredibly positive, and Jay was making a lot of progress with funding.
David told Jay what he was thinking. Jay loved the idea. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Why KIPP Charter Schools?
CommonBond co-founders, David Klein (CEO) and Michael Taormina (CFO), are connected to KIPP in different ways. David sits on the Board of a charter school in the Bronx, New York, so is well aware of the role a charter school can have on community development and economic mobility. He is also aware of the KIPP Charter Schools network across the U.S. and considers it to be one of the best in the country. Mike was the former president of the JDRF Young Leadership Committee in New York City and founded the Philadelphia chapter in 2011, where he met the principal of KIPP West Philadelphia, Shawna Wells.
KIPP is a leading charter school network in the United States that predominantly educates students in low-income communities throughout the country. Their academic performance is nothing short of remarkable. For example, the founding class in 2003 at KIPP's flagship Philadelphia school entered with low math and reading scores - 29% and 21% respectively - and by graduation, the proficiency rate had soared to 91% for both subjects.
While the results to date are impressive, there is far more work to be done. KIPP believes in being a resource to not just the individual student, but to the student's entire family and community. They also know, as do we, that too many children in this country still live in poverty, and financial literacy education has proven to be one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty. So when CommonBond was looking for the right charter school partner with whom to create a financial literacy program, which the company would fund, we could think of no better partner than KIPP and no better a pilot partner than Principal Wells’ KIPP West Philadelphia school.
Ms. Wells invited CommonBond to KIPP West Philadelphia's first day of class in August 2012 to hear the annual KIPP "College Talk" firsthand. “Today marks the first day of your climb up the mountain,” Ms. Wells announced to a packed classroom of new KIPP fifth graders, as she pointed to a drawing of a mountain on the chalkboard. Teachers and guests filled the room’s periphery, each wearing the T-shirt of their college alma mater. Dave and Mike wore theirs too.
Each year, the entry-level fifth graders of KIPP’s West Philadelphia Preparatory School, hear directly from Ms. Wells about the critical importance of education, especially at the college level, for making success in life much more attainable. College is the proverbial peak of the mountain at KIPP – the daily focus every day at school. It’s not an easy climb, but the new KIPP students can always count on the dedicated KIPP staff to help them along the way.
From Day 1 at CommonBond, we have firmly believed that business can and should be a positive force for change. As we develop our partnership with KIPP, we look forward to updating you, and helping KIPP fulfill its mission to support students in their climb up the mountain, one step at a time.