Inspiring News Stories
Excerpts of Highly Inspiring News Stories in Major Media
Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news stories from the major media. Links are provided to the original stories on their media websites. If any link fails to function, click here. The inspiring news story summaries most recently posted here are listed first. You can explore the same list with the most inspiring stories listed first. See also a concise list providing headlines and links to a number of highly inspiring stories. May these articles inspire us to find ever more ways to love and support each other and all around us to be the very best we can be.
When Paola Gonzalez received a phone call from RIP Medical Debt, she was certain what she heard was a mistake. A prank, maybe. The caller said a $950 hospital bill had been paid for in full. She wouldn’t have to worry about it again. “They wanted to pay a bill for me,” she said. “I was just speechless.” The 24-year-old student ... has lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. “I can’t always work,” Gonzalez said. “I’ll be fine today and sick tomorrow. It’s really amazing that people would help out like this.” Gonzalez is one of many people who have had a debt paid by RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit founded by two former debt collectors, Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico, that buys debt on the open market and then abolishes it, no strings attached. In [its first] year, the group has abolished just under $400,000. On July 4, it launched a year-long campaign to ... abolish $17.6 million of other people’s debt. It works like this: typical collection agencies will buy debts from private practices, hospitals, and other collection agencies. The buyers often [purchase] a debt for pennies on the dollar while charging the debtor the full amount, plus additional fees. Antico and Ashton are plugged into the same marketplace. They buy the debt for around one percent of the amount it's worth. Then, they forgive it. Ashton worked in the debt collections business for more than 30 years. The industry treated debts as “commodities” and sold them for a profit while the debtor struggled to pay off the full amount. “That I find to be unconscionable,” says Ashton.
Note: Ashton was inspired to rethink debt by Rolling Jubilee, a program that came out of the Occupy Wall Street movement which similarly abolishes student loan debt.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield founded their gourmet ice creamery in 1978 ... to make the world’s best ice cream, to run a financially successful company and to “make the world a better place.” When Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods conglomerate, offered to buy the company in 2000 for a rich 25 percent premium ... they worried that Unilever would abandon the progressive aspects of the business. But as a public corporation, Ben & Jerry’s had a fiduciary duty to its shareholders. It agreed to a deal. Very quickly, some of their worst fears were realized. A production plant and a distribution center were shuttered. Sales representatives at headquarters were fired. But today ... Ben & Jerry’s [remains] as mission-driven as ever. The recipe for this amicable partnership was written into the acquisition agreement. Unilever established an “external board” charged with overseeing Ben & Jerry’s culture and social mission [that] does not report to any authority other than itself, nominates its own members, has the right to sue Unilever and will exist in perpetuity. Even with the external board in place, a question remained: How many of Ben & Jerry’s ambitious initiatives could a multinational like Unilever reasonably be expected to support? The answer, it turned out, was most of them. The company now offers its lowest-paid workers more than twice the national minimum wage. It uses only cage-free eggs. And recently, Ben & Jerry’s became a B Corporation, [to certify its] high social and environmental standards.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Green rooftops will soon be sprouting up across France, thanks to a new law passed in March. New buildings in the country’s commercial zones - think shops, offices, and restaurants - must now have either solar panels or green roofs, meaning a growing medium such as soil and a covering of vegetation. The new rooftop vegetation will provide habitat for birds, absorb airborne pollutants, [retain] rainwater, and reduce the urban heat island effect whereby high concentrations of concrete buildings and asphalt increase air temperature. Green roofs could even improve worker productivity, with a recent study by the University of Melbourne finding that participants who took a 40-second break to look at a green roof were more focused and accurate when they got back to work compared to those who viewed a concrete roof. Similar green-roof bylaws exist in various cities around the world, including Tokyo, Toronto, Copenhagen, and Zurich. In Toronto ... all commercial and large residential buildings built since 2009 have been required to have at least 20 percent green-roof coverage. In Copenhagen and Zurich all new flat roofs, both private and public, must be vegetated. And since 2001, all new buildings in Tokyo larger than about 11,000 square feet are required to have at least 20 percent usable green-roof space. However, France is the first to introduce such legislation country-wide. The new law means that France’s urban and industrial skylines might look more like New York City’s booming rooftop farms and less like a concrete jungle.
Note: Don't miss the inspiring photos of innovative green roofs at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Leonard Campanello ... posts frequent “Gloucester Police Chief Updates” to the police department’s Facebook page. “Since January of this year, we have responded to dozens of opiate-related overdoses and, unfortunately, the City has seen 4 deaths in this time that are heroin related,” he wrote [on March 6], adding: “4 deaths is 4 too many.” He continued: “If you are a user of opiates or heroin, let us help you. We know you do not want this addiction. We have resources here in the City that can and will make a difference in your life. Do not become a statistic.” The post collected 1,226 “likes” and more page views than there were people in the city. The community, he said, was hungry for different ideas. “The war on drugs is over,” Campanello said in an interview. “And we lost. There is no way we can arrest our way out of this. We’ve been trying that for 50 years. The only thing that has happened is heroin has become cheaper and more people are dying.” He now wanted to turn Gloucester’s police station into an oasis of amnesty in the drug addict’s perilous world. No heroin addict who entered the police seeking help — unless they had outstanding warrants — would face charges or arrest. Even if they toted their drugs and paraphernalia. Instead, they would get help. In another Facebook post in early May, he laid it out. Things then happened fast. The force opened a non-profit called the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative. So far, Campanello said, 109 addicts have sought help at the police station.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday joined an initiative that will require its Florida tomato suppliers to increase farmworker pay and protect workers from forced labor and sexual assault, among other things. The nation's largest retailer became the most influential corporation to join the initiative promoted by ... the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. "Through this collaboration, not only will thousands of hard-working farmworkers see concrete improvements to their lives, but millions of consumers will learn about the Fair Food Program and of a better way to buy fruits and vegetables grown and harvested here in the U.S," said Cruz Salacio, a spokesman for the Coalition. Florida tomato suppliers in the Fair Food Program pass on to their buyers a penny-per-pound of tomatoes pay increase for farmworkers. They also must have zero tolerance for forced labor and sexual assault and put in place a mechanism for resolving labor disputes between growers and farmworkers. The program also requires growers to allow farmworkers to form health and safety committees on each farm. Growers in compliance earn a "Participating Grower" designation, and if they lose the designation through violations, they won't be able to sell their tomatoes to the participating buyers, such as Wal-Mart. "This signifies a tremendous change," Lucas Benitez, a coalition leader, said of Wal-Mart's participation.
Note: Read more on this inspiring initiative.
Alice Herz-Sommer is known for her grace and wisdom. The 109-year-old, who is the oldest living pianist and Holocaust survivor, is undoubtedly one of the most inspirational people in the world. Now, a documentary called "The Lady In Number 6" is telling her incredible story from beginning to end - but just the 11-minute preview in itself is amazing enough. "Every day in life is beautiful," Herz-Sommer says in the video above. The 38-minute-long documentary is directed by Malcolm Clarke and produced by Nicholas Reed and has already been shortlisted for the Academy Awards' documentary short subject category, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Kids all over the world grow up on superheroes," Reed writes on the documentary's website. "What we, their parents, must remind them, is documentaries tell stories about ‘real superheroes.' Superheroes are based on great people, real people, like Alice Herz Sommer.” Despite everything she's been through, Herz-Sommer insists that she's never hated the Nazis and never will. "I have lived through many wars and have lost everything many times - including my husband, my mother and my beloved son," she says on the documentary's website. "Yet, life is beautiful, and I have so much to learn and enjoy. I have no space nor time for pessimism and hate.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
When George Denny hired a 24-year-old nanny to care for his three children in 1996, the successful private equity investor ... wasn’t expecting to gain a future business partner. But Barbara Mattaliano was certain that a wild rice farm Denny owned in California had big commercial potential. We can create a niche brand of wild rice, she told him, and it will sell. Slowly, he came around. In 2009 they started Goose Valley Natural Foods to sell the rice grown on Denny’s 6,700-acre farm in Shasta County. Today, Goose Valley claims to be the world’s largest producer of organic and natural wild rice, harvesting between 5 million and 6 million pounds annually. As founding partner, Mattaliano earns a six-figure salary and owns a piece of the company. Just over a decade ago, she was cobbling together an income of about $17,000 working as a nanny and rotating through several part-time jobs. She [had] cut short her college education after being severely injured. For years, Denny had been content to sell his rice to SunWest Foods, a California company that buys and processes the rice from over 300 farmers. But Mattaliano had a different idea. She saw an opportunity to cash in on the growing popularity of natural and organic foods ... and kept pushing her idea to Denny. “I told him that in all this time at the ranch in the summers I learned the agriculture end of the business,” she said. The turning point came [once Denny admitted], “This is not just Barbara pestering me — this could be a nice business opportunity.”
It is every kid's worst nightmare and six-year-old Jaden Hayes has lived it - twice. First he lost his dad when he was four and then last month his mom died unexpectedly in her sleep. Jaden is understandably heartbroken. "Anybody can die, just anybody," he said. But there's another side to his grief. A side he first made public a few weeks ago when he told his aunt, and now guardian, Barbara DiCola, that he was sick and tired of seeing everyone sad all the time. And he had a plan to fix it. Jaden asked his aunt Barbara to buy a bunch of little toys and bring him to downtown Savannah, Georgia near where he lives, so he could give them away. "I'm trying to make people smile," said Jaden. [He] targets people who aren't already smiling and then turns their day around. He's gone out on four different occasions now and he is always successful. Even if sometimes he doesn't get exactly the reaction he was hoping for. It is just so overwhelming to some people that a six-year-old orphan would give away a toy - expecting nothing in return - except a smile. Of course he is paid handsomely in hugs -- and his aunt says the reactions have done wonders for Jaden. "It's like sheer joy came out of this child," said Barbara. "And the more people that he made smile, the more this light shone." Jaden says that's mostly true. "But I'm still sad my mom died," he said. This is by no means a fix, but in the smiles he's made so far -- nearly 500 at last count -- Jaden has clearly found a purpose. "I'm counting on it to be 33,000," said Jaden.
Most people ... don't tap into their full empathic potential. The good news is that almost everyone can learn to be more empathic, just like we can learn to ride a bike or drive a car. A good warm up is to do a quick assessment of your empathic abilities. Neuropsychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has devised a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes in which you are shown 36 pairs of eyes and have to choose one of four words that best describes what each person is feeling or thinking. Going a step further, there are three simple but powerful strategies for unleashing the empathic potential that is latent in our neural circuitry: 1. Make a habit of "radical listening" ... to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing at that very moment. Let people have their say, hold back from interrupting and even reflect back what they've told you so they knew you were really listening. 2. Look for the human behind everything ... by developing an awareness of all those individuals hidden behind the surface of our daily lives, on whom we may depend in some way. Who is driving the train? Vacuuming the office floor? Stacking the supermarket shelves? Such mindful awareness ... can spark empathic action on the behalf of others. 3. Become curious about strangers. Having conversations with strangers opens up our empathic minds. We can not only meet fascinating people but also challenge the assumptions and prejudices that we have about others based on their appearance, accents or backgrounds.
Note: Learn about the world's first Empathy Museum, which is launching in the UK in late 2015.
One of the stories that inspired bestselling author Susan Casey’s new book on the intricate world of dolphins, Voices in the Ocean, is almost too beautiful to be believed. A biologist named Maddalena Bearzi was studying a group of dolphins off the coast of Los Angeles when she noticed something strange. The “pod” (group of dolphins) had just landed upon a herd of sardines. They were about to start feeding when one, unexpectedly, darted off. The rest followed, swimming full speed out to sea. When she reached them, three miles offshore, the pod had a formed a circle - in the middle of it, a girl’s floating body. Very near death, the girl had a plastic bag with her identification and a suicide note wrapped around her neck. With the dolphins' help, she was saved. The first dolphins lived on land. It took them 25 million years to adapt to being in the water. Their bodies shrank and their teeth shrank and their brains got big. They did all kinds of shape-shifting evolutionarily. Their brains grew significantly. It’s fascinating because scientists don’t know why. Most scientists’ main guess is that it was due to their changing social behavior. How did the dolphin know the girl was there? That’s the big question. They don’t rely on vision. I suspect it had something to do with frequency and vibration but of course that’s a guess. We don’t know. They tend to treat us the way they would treat other dolphins. By themselves, they’re vulnerable - to sharks, getting lost, all these things. So when you see dolphins together there is constant touching. They know how to help each other.
In much of the developing world, the electrical grid is a rickety, unreliable tangle of wires — if it exists at all. So starting quietly last year, SolarCity created a charity that installs solar arrays, complete with battery packs, at rural schools in developing countries. The GivePower Foundation has lit nearly 1,000 schools so far in Africa and Central America, a number expected to top 1,500 by the end of this year. Each solar and battery system is designed to generate and store enough electricity to light the schools for ... extending class hours. Students and community members can also use the systems to recharge their cell phones, increasingly popular in areas that never had widespread landline phone service. Hayes Barnard, GivePower’s president, says, “In certain parts of the world, there are opportunities to use renewable energy from the get-go. You don’t have to fight the status quo that’s been established around dirty energy.” The foundation aims to light one school for every megawatt of solar power SolarCity installs in the United States (a megawatt is roughly equal to the amount of electricity used by 750 American homes in any given instant). Next up: lighting 200 schools in Nepal, as part of the country’s recovery efforts from this spring’s devastating earthquake. Barnard will participate in that installation project himself. SolarCity recruits its own employees to do much of the installation work abroad, offering the work trips as an incentive for outstanding job performance.
Many 16-year-olds might covet a smartphone. Ronald Hennig just wanted a suit so he could attend a relative's funeral. The teenager ... was living in a group home at the time. His caseworker was unable to justify the nonessential expense. But an anonymous benefactor stepped in to help Hennig through a website called One Simple Wish. "I was able to go to the funeral," said Hennig, now 18. "I could pay the same respect as everyone else." One Simple Wish was started by Danielle Gletow to help grant the wishes of children in foster care. Each child's wish is posted online, and anyone can pay to make that wish come true - from tangible items such as a bicycle, a varsity jacket or school supplies to an experience like music lessons or a trip to the theater. Since 2008, the nonprofit has granted more than 6,500 wishes for children living in 42 states. More than 400,000 children were living in the U.S. foster-care system in 2011. "The wishes that don't seem like the basic necessity are (often) the ones that are the most important," Gletow said. "Because those are the wishes that are really just a kid being a kid. We don't want to constantly remind them of how sad or tragic or challenging their circumstances are. Anybody can go on our website, and they can look at hundreds of wishes that are posted on behalf of children in foster care and children in vulnerable family environments," Gletow said. "These small things make an enormous difference in the life of a child who has spent their entire life wondering if anybody cares about them."
In neurosurgical training ... six years passed in a flash. Then, heading into chief residency, I developed a classic constellation of symptoms — weight loss, fevers, night sweats, unremitting back pain, cough — indicating a diagnosis quickly confirmed: metastatic lung cancer. The gears of time ground down. Now unable to work, I was left at home to convalesce. A full day’s activity might be a medical appointment, or a visit from a friend. The rest of the time was rest. Yet there is dynamism in our house. Our daughter was born days after I was released from the hospital. Week to week, she blossoms: a first grasp, a first smile, a first laugh. My daughter, Cady. I hope I’ll live long enough that she has some memory of me. Words have a longevity I do not. I had thought I could leave her a series of letters — but what would they really say? I don’t know what this girl will be like when she is 15; I don’t even know if she’ll take to the nickname we’ve given her. There is perhaps only one thing to say to this infant, who is all future, overlapping briefly with me, whose life, barring the improbable, is all but past. That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.
GiveDirectly has a straightforward approach to helping the world's poorest people: just give them cash, no strings attached. The New York-based nonprofit has distributed about $1,000 — roughly a year's income — to thousands of ultra-poor households in Kenya and Uganda. Recipients don't need to pay back the money, and they can spend it however they wish. This might seem like a radical idea, but it's not. Cash transfers have quietly become one of the most widely researched and consistently effective anti-poverty strategies in the developing world. Now GiveDirectly's work is receiving a major boost from Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, who on Monday announced a $25 million donation through their foundation Good Ventures. The gift is greater than GiveDirectly's entire 2014 budget. "Governments and donors spend tens of billions of dollars a year on reducing poverty," Tuna said in a statement, "but the people who are meant to benefit from that money rarely get a say in how it’s spent. GiveDirectly is changing that." Moskovitz and Tuna, both in their early 30s, are among the youngest billionaires to pledge the bulk of their fortune to charity. Their goal isn't just to do good, but to do the most good possible. That goal led them to support exhaustive research to determine which organizations working in poor countries are most effective and cost-efficient. That research, in turn, led them to GiveDirectly - the only nonprofit focused exclusively on cash transfers.
Before my freshman year of high school started ... my friend's car hit a guardrail with me inside. The railing amputated my leg instantly. Several years ago, more of my leg had to be amputated. Not only did this make it harder to wear a prosthetic, but it became a lot more expensive. In February of 2013, my life was forever changed when I attended the Executive Assistant Organization's Behind Every Leader event. During the conference, a sweet lady by the name of Alisson Frew dared to ask me why I did not wear a prosthetic. My short and simple answer was, "I don't have sixty thousand dollars. Do you?" The next morning I was in tears as I learned that Alisson had talked with Jeff Hoffman, founder of Priceline and mentor to GiveForward.com, along with a dozen other people, in order to help me get a prosthetic. From the first step, it was apparent to me just how much this would mean. A few days after I received the leg, I wrapped my son in my arms and experienced our first of many dances. This seemingly simple moment is forever ingrained into my heart. For the first time in my life, I was not only confident but I was empowered! I yearned to help those around me. In ... 2014, I started modelling. My dream is that one day a little girl will see me on a poster at her favorite clothing store and say, "Wow, she is beautiful, and she only has one leg. I could do that too someday, even though I have a disability." My dream is simple: to inspire every man, woman, and child into knowing and believing that they are beautiful just the way they are.
Note: Watch Marina's inspiring thank-you video to Behind Every Leader.
Comics Bobcat Goldthwait and Barry Crimmins are good friends who each became important in the '80s comedy scene. Both have been through a lot of changes since then. Goldthwait was first famous for ... his role as Zed in the "Police Academy" films. Goldthwait has dropped the persona and become a director of independent films and TV shows like "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "Maron." His new film is a documentary about Barry Crimmins. [In] the early '90s ... Crimmins revealed he was raped several times at the age of 4 or 5 by a man brought into Crimmins's home by his babysitter. After going public, he started exposing pedophiles on Internet chat rooms. Goldthwait's documentary about Crimmins is titled "Call Me Lucky." This documentary is about [Crimmins's] contribution to the comedy scene, but it also is about his childhood when he was abused - and then later, as an adult, [when he] tried to out child pornographers and did a pretty successful job at getting some of them put behind bars. Crimmins [explains]: "A lot of us are drawn to the stage or show business or whatever because, you know, we didn't feel so great about ourselves, and we didn't know how to do anything about that, so we sought external approval. And as people got older and dealt with things and began to approve of themselves, then they started to find what else they could do and what else they were capable of. You can't hate anybody till you hate yourself and you can't love anybody till you love yourself. Once you [understand that], then you're pretty liberated to try a bunch of other things."
Note: The above was summarized from a lengthy radio interview that you can listen to at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Some 1.3 billion people worldwide live without electricity, affecting health, lowering incomes, and making education difficult. An increasing number of advocates ... are promoting the use of solar power to [increase] access to clean energy across the globe. Solar is a low-cost energy source in the long run, but it has high initial costs. Some solar manufacturers and energy distributors are helping people skirt these up-front costs through creative financing models. In programs such as these, customers can finance their own solar systems for less than what they would otherwise be spending on kerosene ($40-$80 per year on average). Barefoot College developed a training program for grandmothers, who ... learn how to install, maintain, and repair the solar systems and, upon graduation, receive a monthly salary for their work. Solar Sister trains rural African women in sales and entrepreneurship, empowering them to become active participants in the economy while acknowledging that “women invest 90 percent of their income into their family’s well being.” Lighting a Billion Lives trains local entrepreneurs to manage their own solar charging station, from which they rent out solar lamps for a modest price to the local population. The organization also offers microloans and subsidies to facilitate such entrepreneurship. Grameen Shakti (Bangladesh), SolarAid (Africa), and Kamworks (Cambodia) operate with similar values. In this way, solar companies are ... empowering families [and] communities.
His body ravaged by chemotherapy treatments, retired radio engineer John Kanzius spent months in his basement in 2003 cobbling together a makeshift tumor-killing machine. Kanzius had no medical background. He had been a ham radio operator and the owner of a television and radio station company. But he had leukemia, and he did not want to die. He did not know it then, but the John Kanzius's Noninvasive Radiowave Cancer Device ... would eventually make the pages of respected medical journals and attract the support of leading cancer researchers. Dr. Steven A. Curley, an oncologist ... launched Kanzius’s research into the national spotlight and devoted his career to the project. Curley had treated many cancer patients, but [grew] particularly close with Kanzius. In 2009, Kanzius died at 64 from pneumonia while undergoing chemotherapy. Many thought the Kanzius machine would die with him. But this May, Curley filed protocols with the Italian Ministry of Health to test the radio wave machine on humans diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the MD Anderson Cancer Center and Rice University tested the technology [on] human cancer cells in petri dishes, as well as into tumors in mice, rats, rabbits and pigs. Using the Kanzius machine, they were able to heat [injected] nanoparticles and, as a result, kill all those cancerous cells [while surrounding healthy areas remained intact]. Results were published in the oncology medical journal Cancer, as well as Nano Research.
Note: Learn more about promising cancer treatments that are emerging and why these are frequently overlooked. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
"The 9 Nanas" ... gather in the darkness of night. At 4am they begin their daily routine - a ritual that no one, not even their husbands, knew about for 30 years. They have one mission and one mission only: to create happiness. And it all begins with baked goods. Over the next three hours, The 9 Nanas (who all consider themselves sisters, despite what some of their birth certificates say) will whip up hundreds of pound cakes, as part of a grand scheme to help those in need. Before anyone gets as much as a glimpse of them, they’ll disappear back into their daily lives. Their master plan ... began 35 years ago. They’d eavesdrop - and when they heard about a widow or a single mom who needed a little help, they’d step in and anonymously pay a utility bill or buy some new clothes for the children. The Nanas would find out where the person lived and send a package with a note that simply said, “Somebody loves you” - and they’d be sure to include one of MaMaw Ruth’s special pound cakes. 30 years into their secret mission ... the sisters came clean. They told the husbands, [who then] offered to help. It wasn’t long before the couples decided it was also time to tell their grown children. And that’s when happiness began to happen in an even bigger way. The children encouraged their mothers to start selling MaMaw Ruth’s pound cakes online, so they could raise money to help even more people. That’s when the 9 Nanas moved their covert baking operation out of their homes. In the last 35 years, the 9 Nanas have contributed nearly $900,000 of happiness to their local community.
Note: To learn more about The 9 Nanas and Happiness Happens or to purchase one of MaMaw Ruth’s special pound cakes, you can visit their website.
Tired of sharing a single bathroom with his teenage son, Sean Rosas hatched a plan. But ... renovating their broken-down bathroom ... would cost more than what Rosas, the director of volunteer services at a nonprofit, had on hand. That’s when Rosas, 43, stumbled on Lending Club, a website that matches borrowers directly with individual lenders. If you need a loan, the site pulls up your credit score, vets your application within minutes and assigns an interest rate. If enough people sign up to lend, you can get the money in days. More than 250 people chose to back Rosas, giving him a three-year, $16,000 loan at 8.9% annual interest. Rosas, who has made every monthly payment so far, is thrilled with his deal. “It was a much more human experience than if I had gone to a faceless bank,” he says. Peer-to-peer has grown partly as a response to the recession; when credit was tight, traditional banks pulled back on lending, and consumers needed alternatives. Compared with a traditional loan application, Lending Club is blissfully easy. To qualify, borrowers need only an active bank account, a minimum FICO credit score of 660 ... and at least three years of credit history. What lenders are really doing is investing: they’re putting their money in notes backed by the prospective repayment of loans. The sizes of the loans range from $1,000 to $35,000. Investors can buy notes in increments as small as $25. Since its founding in 2006, Lending Club has delivered investors an average annual return of 7.79%–appealing at a time when three-year Treasury bonds average 1%.
Note: Curious about emerging alternatives to traditional banking? Learn more about the inspiring microcredit movement.