Three recent Harvard grads have launched a new website, UniThrive.org, designed to connect needy Harvard students with "charitable" Harvard alums. Much like the direct-to-recipient mirco-lending site, Kiva.org (one of Unithrive's founders is actually the cousin of Kiva's president), the site allows alumni givers to browse profiles of current students asking for no-interest loans of up to $2,000. Although some students ask for funding for not-strictly-academic trips or projects, others are asking for help to cover financial aid gaps (the average debt for graduating students is about $8,000). As of today, the site is limited to Harvard students and alumni, but plans to expand to other schools in the fall. The site has potential--direct, personal lending is getting more and more popular (as evidenced by Kiva's success), and alumni ties at top-tier schools have always been strong--but may face growing pains because of its limited scope (alumni to students only) and students' potentially frivolous requests.
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