Fourth Annual CommonBond Social Impact Award, Presented with Pencils of Promise, Now Accepting Applications

$10,000 Award Will Go to Country's Top Undergrad Social Entrepreneur; Lil Jon and Other Celebrity Judges to Decide Winner in New York City

NEW YORK – May 15, 2017 – Current college students with a smart business idea will soon get a boost: CommonBond, a financial technology company that helps students and graduates pay for higher education, announces its fourth annual CommonBond Social Impact Award, in partnership this year with Pencils of Promise. The award honors the nation's top undergraduate entrepreneur whose business plan drives social good.

Nominations for the CommonBond Social Impact Award are now open; the deadline for submissions is May 31, 2017. To qualify, current undergraduate students must have a for-profit business or business idea that also produces a positive social impact. Here’s how it works:

  • All applicants who submit their business idea will receive free coaching on how to build a business plan.  
  • CommonBond and Pencils of Promise will select 10 semifinalists on June 7th, who then submit a two-minute video that describes their business model and how their business will help their community.  
  • The general public will vote for their favorite videos, and the three semifinalists with the most votes receive a trip to New York City.
  • During the trip, each finalist will pitch his or her business to a panel of celebrity judges at CommonBond’s office in SoHo.
  • One winner chosen by the judges will receive $10,000 to put towards their business plus a year's worth of advisory services from CommonBond's leadership team.
  • Visit for more details and rules.  

This year’s judges include Adam Braun, CEO and co-founder of MissionU and founder of Pencils of Promise; Hayley Barna, venture partner at First Round Capital and co-founder of Birchbox; David Klein, CEO and co-founder of CommonBond; and Lil Jon, Grammy award-winning artist, producer, and tech enthusiast.

"We started the CommonBond Social Impact Award four years ago to encourage a new generation of socially-minded entrepreneurs," said David Klein, CEO and co-founder of CommonBond. "We've discovered some incredible social entrepreneurs over the years, and been fortunate to help them develop their business models and have lasting impact in their communities. I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Pencils of Promise this year in presenting the CommonBond Social Impact Award to one lucky undergraduate student looking to make the world a better place through business."

"CommonBond has been a meaningful contributor to Pencils of Promise over the years, and we continue to grow our impact together," said Pencils of Promise's CEO, Michael Dougherty. "Through our partnership, we hope to provide an example of how for-profit companies and for-purpose organizations can work in tandem to create sustainable social good. By partnering with CommonBond further in presenting the CommonBond Social Impact Award this year, we're excited to support and educate future entrepreneurs on how they can weave social good into the core of their business model. Together, we imagine a world where every business model puts social good out front."


Past winners of the CommonBond Social Impact Award include Pasture Map, which enables sustainable cattle ranchers in the U.S. to maintain responsible grazing practices; Sanlaap North America, which rescues, shelters, and empowers victims of human trafficking; and Kheyti, which builds low-cost greenhouses for small farms in India. 


About CommonBond

CommonBond is a financial technology company on a mission to give students and graduates more transparent, simple, and affordable ways to pay for higher education. By designing a better student loan experience that combines advanced technology with competitive rates and award-winning customer service, CommonBond has provided more than $1 billion in financing to its tens of thousands of members. The company’s enterprise platform, CommonBond for Business™, enables employees to receive a suite of student loan repayment benefits from their employer. CommonBond is the first and only finance company with a "one-for-one" model: for every loan it funds, CommonBond also funds the education of a child in need through a partnership with Pencils of Promise. For more information, visit

About Pencils of Promise

Pencils of Promise is a for-purpose organization founded in 2008 with the goal of increasing access to quality education for children in the developing world. PoP works with communities across the globe to build schools and create programs that provide educational opportunities for children.  To date, PoP has built over 400 schools and provides access to education to more than 35,000 students throughout Ghana, Guatemala, Laos and Nicaragua, establishing itself as a leader amongst the innovative global nonprofits working toward sustainable social change.