Using the driving question, “How can we model micro financing in our own community?” the 6th grade students at San Francisco’s Town School for Boys enter class as eleven-year old boys with very little grasp of financial literacy or idea of what it would take to create, start and run a successful company.  However, because of an innovative approach using project based learning (PBL) and an online non-profit that facilitates microloans, they leave 6th grade as young and experienced businessmen, empathetic and compassionate global learners and leaders of the future.  All this, made possible because the faculty and staff at Town School empower the students first as ‘borrowers’ with loans of their own.

The students at Town School must think creatively and critically as they devise business plans, convince potential funders that their ideas will be successful, and put math to work in practical terms as they explore the costs and benefits of their businesses.  Their success then allows them to repay their loans and use the profits to become ‘lenders’ themselves, through, where they connect with and loan to the ‘unbankable’ around the world to help alleviate poverty.

Learning mathematics, micro finance, and more through in the 6th grade math classroom has had a profound effect on the entire Town School community.  For Kindergarteners through 8th graders, the 6th graders have become the global educators of our community and they use micro lending as their catalyst.  Using the Buck Institutes Gold Standards for Project Based Learning sets the stage for design and teaching practices.  Technology is integrated in many aspects as the students discover applications and website that help them organize data, information and themselves.  Using social media and Skype, students connect with other like-minded students and classrooms to share their experiences and passion. 

This projects empowers students, provides them with authentic real-world learning and leadership opportunities and allows them to practice life skills for the future.’s new KIVA U education program provides teachers and students with tools, resources, and an online, interactive community space in which they can connect, engage and mobilize to wield micro finance as both a learning and an action tool. 

 The project teaches the following components from our Everyday Math 6th Grade Curriculum:  

  • Collection, Display and Interpretation of Data
  • Operations with Whole Numbers and Decimals
  • Variables, Formulas and Graphs
  • Algebraic Expressions, Number Systems and Algebra Concepts
  • Rates, Ratios and Proportions


Equally important it helps to teach and encourage the following:

  • Collaboration
  • Empathy
  • Oral and Written Presentation
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • Global Citizenship
  • Civic Responsibility
  • Leadership
  • Initiative

The project also teaches the boys appropriate financial literacy skills including:

  • Loans and the business of the bank
  • Capital and Savings
  • Taxes
  • Comparison Shopping 
  • Spending
  • Profit, Net/Gross Income

The following driving questions are used to help the boys stay on task throughout the school year:

  • As employees of Goggin Advertising, how can we create an ad campaign to influence new and existing lenders to choose loans in ____________ geographic area? 
  • How can we create a business plan that clearly defines our mission, philosophy and goals and convinces the faculty and staff of Town School to lend to us?
  • How can we best educate our community about micro finance/kiva in the hopes of encouraging them to be future customers of our businesses and future lenders on
  • How can we create and share our "year in review" in the hope that it encourages future lenders?  

Micro Finance Macro Results

Site functions as a home base for our project.  It is  used to gather funding for businesses, hold business plans and host their company blogs.  

Some GO TO tech tools: 

If It Were My Home

A wonderful site that allows the boys to explore different parts of the world as they compare to the United States.  The boys use this website to help assist in their loan making.   

One Hen Inc. 

One hen provides resources for teaching micro financing to kids of all ages.  Play the games and use the simulations.  Learn about micro financing and earn beads that help people all over the world.